I hear it is snowing in 49 out of 50 states today. And this, just after the big snow in Washington. Is climate change to blame?
According to climate scientists, we cannot extrapolate based on the events of 1 week.
Still, even if we choose to discount the dramatic weather of this week, it is increasingly clear that the climate is changing and that we must rethink agriculture.
Population experts anticipate the addition of another roughly 3 billion people to the planet’s population by mid-21st century. However, the amount of arable land has not changed appreciably in more than half a century. And it isn’t likely to increase much in the future because we’re losing it to urbanization, salinization, and desertification as fast or faster than we’re adding it . As well, the world is becoming increasingly aware of the devastating contribution to global warming caused by the destruction of tropical forests for the further expansion of agriculture and the detrimental environmental and human health impacts of fertilizers and pesticides.
What will it take to keep agricultural supply apace with growing demand in a changing climate?
Recent reports on food security emphasize the gains that can be made in the short run by bringing existing agronomic and food science technology and know-how to people who do not yet have it, as well as by exploring the genetic variability in our existing food crops and developing more ecologically sound farming practices.
This is the conclusion of a perspective published today Science today led by Nina Federoff, scientific advisor to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
Full disclosure: I am a coauthor of this article.
For more commentary, please see this interview with Sir David King, director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and former government chief scientific adviser.