Adapting agriculture to a changing climate

This is a guest post by Dr Gavin Kenny1, a New Zealand scientist who has worked on agricultural adaptation to climate change in NZ and world wide. He has a very interesting and informed perspective on the sorts of things NZ agriculture should be doing to address climate change as it happens — exactly the sort of conversation we need to have on this big issue. The article first appeared in the agriculture section at Stuff.co.nz last week.

For more than 20 years I have worked professionally on the “what ifs” of climate change, focused mostly on what it might mean for agriculture. I’ve done this work in New Zealand, Europe, the Pacific Islands and Asia. During that time I have experienced the progression from the hypothetical to real-world responses. Climate change, particularly as experienced through more frequent drought and flood events, is increasingly influencing what farmers are doing in many countries. It is not clear whether this is yet the case in New Zealand, but I suspect so.

With a record summer drought just behind us, and with negative and positive effects that will continue to unfold for farmers, it is relevant to ask: What if we get more frequent and intense droughts in the future? How might farming change and how might those changes affect wider society?

Continue reading “Adapting agriculture to a changing climate”

  1. Gavin has a PhD in agricultural meteorology, managed a European Union climate change project at Oxford University in the early 1990s, followed by eight years with a research group at University of Waikato. He has worked independently since 2001. []

TDB today: Bursting Bill and Steven’s bubble

In this week’s column at The Daily Blog, I argue that the government is living in a bubble of unreality by refusing to take climate change seriously.

…the government — in the shape of deputy PM Bill English and minister of everything and Novapay Steven Joyce — has done its best to avoid acknowledging [the] threat [of increasing drought] to New Zealand agriculture. The reason is simple enough. If you don’t understand the issue — or you don’t want to understand the issue — then you can’t design sensible policy to deal with it. Bill and Steven and their friends are locked into a bubble of unreality, one they’ve been blowing around themselves since they took power.

Read the rest at The Daily Blog.

The Quadruple Squeeze

Required viewing: Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre talking at TEDGlobal 2010 about the “quadruple squeeze” we’re putting on the planet through overpopulation, climate change, ecosystem loss and the problem of surprises — tipping points in the system. Rockström was lead author on last year’s Nature paper on planetary boundaries and is an interesting and compelling presenter. Bottom line? We face a huge challenge, but there are ways we can fix the problem… [Hat-tip to Resilience Science]