Agriculture and climate: Connecting the science: USDA, NCAR team up to identify where nation is vulnerable, how we might adapt
With U.S. agriculture taking a massive hit from the widespread drought of 2012, farmers and other stakeholders are hungry for guidance on how crops may fare as the nation’s climate evolves over the coming decades. This year’s National Climate Assessment (NCA) includes new findings on agriculture and climate change—key science that draws from a longstanding collaboration between NCAR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pulling together the latest studies, researchers from the USDA, the university community, and nongovernmental organizations produced Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation. This newly released technical document explores the current effects of changing climate as well as projections of change that may occur over the next 100 years. Scientists from the USDA and collaborating organizations used the information from this report to write the NCA chapter on the effects of climate change on U.S. agriculture.
Hoisting signs that read “Forward on Climate” and “No on Keystone XL,” a massive group of protesters gathered on the National Mall Sunday to urge President Obama to take action on climate policy. Organizers of the major rally, including the Sierra Club and environmental activist group 350.org, estimated that there were 40,000 protesters from 30 states in what the groups are billing as the largest climate rally in history. Of particular concern to those attending the rally was one of the first climate-related decisions the president will face in his second term — whether to approve the construction of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline. Environmental groups organized two rallies in Washington last year to protest the pipeline, which would carry dense fossil fuel from Alberta, Canada, to oil refineries along the Gulf Coast. Those high-profile actions, where hundreds of activists were arrested, likely factored into the administration’s move to push the controversial Keystone decision back until after the election.
The U.S. government is at high risk of financial exposure from climate change, the Government Accountability Office said on Thursday, two days after President Barack Obama vowed to tackle the issue with or without Congress’ help. For the first time, the non-partisan congressional watchdog added fiscal exposure from climate change to its “High Risk List” of measures the federal government needs to fix. There are now 30 programs and operations the GAO considers at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement, or that need broad-based transformation, from the management of federal oil and gas resources to enforcement of tax laws.
As the State Department nears a decision on whether or not to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, the media is exaggerating its economic benefits and downplaying environmental risks to advocate for the project. Media Matters takes on five of the prevailing media myths about Keystone XL.
- Would Keystone XL contribute to climate change?
- Does the new pipeline route resolve local environmental concerns?
- How would the pipeline impact U.S. energy security?
- How many jobs would building the pipeline create?
- Would Keystone XL affect gasoline prices?
Delta Farm Press
The USDA has released two comprehensive reports on expected effects of climate change on agriculture and forestry. The reports —Climate Change and Agriculture: Effects and Adaptation and The Effects of Climate Variabilityand Change on Forest Ecosystems: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis for the U.S. Forest Sector — will be part of the upcoming National Climate Assessment.
The reports’ predictions are not comforting with claims that increases in temperatures, atmospheric carbon dioxide, altered precipitation patterns and increasing extreme weather events will definitely influence agriculture. And while some crops may actually benefit and expand into areas once impossible to grow in, the overall picture is not rosy. Management of weeds, insect pests, and diseases will gain even more importance in coming years.
A study released by the National Wildlife Federation on Jan. 30 blames Idaho’s costly 2012 fire season on climate change and states that things will only get worse as global warming intensifies.
The study, titled “Wildlife in a Warming World,” features sections on all parts of the nation, including the Mississippi River basin, the Southwest and the East Coast. From forests encroaching on the Alaskan tundra to polar bears struggling to adjust to rapidly dwindling sea ice, the study strives to be a comprehensive overview of how climate change has an impact on all North American wildlife.