Warmer Planet, Fewer Crops?

February 26, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to David Epstein for this article from the Washington Post.

This column has focused on the effects of food production on climate change. But what about the effects of climate change on food production? After all, few things are as sensitive to changes in weather as agriculture. Farmers wait for warmer seasons to grow some crops and colder seasons to plant others. They pray for rain and, at times, hope the rain eases up. The relationship between a good yield and the weather that produces it is rather delicate.

Climate change, however, is going to be rudely indelicate. The basic story is simple: Greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere. More heat causes more evaporation. That water has to come down somewhere. Where it comes down depends on atmospheric conditions, weather patterns and much else. It is, frankly, quite complicated.

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