Climate change and agriculture

Climate change and agriculture

Photo illustration credits: Iberdrola

This is a continuation of our treatise on climate change, a long-term shift in global or regional climate patterns, and often refers specifically to the rise in global temperatures from the mid-20th century to the present.

Climate change, which is affecting the Philippines with many hardly paying attention to it, refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns.

“Climate change” also refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over a long period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns

These shifts may be natural, but since the 1800s, storm chasers say human activities have been the main driver of climate change, primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels, like coal, oil, and gas, which produce heat-trapping gases.

Experts see climate change as the long-term increase in the earth’s average surface temperature and the large-scale changes in global, regional, and local weather patterns that result from that increase, caused by a significant increase in the levels of greenhouse gases that are produced by the use of fossil fuels.

Climate change today is called “global warming” which refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

At least seven causes of climate change are:

Heat-trapping greenhouse gases and the Earth’s climate.

Greenhouse gases.

Reflectivity or absorption of the Sun’s energy.

Changes in the Earth’s orbit and rotation.

Variations in solar activity.

Changes in the Earth’s reflectivity.

Volcanic Activity.

There are at least eight effects of climate change:

Hotter temperatures. As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature.

More severe storms.

Increased drought.

Warming, rising ocean.

Loss of species.

Not enough food.

More health risks.

Poverty and displacement.

According to experts, more frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and warming oceans can directly harm animals, destroy the places they live, and wreak havoc on people’s livelihoods and communities.

As climate change worsens, dangerous weather events are becoming more frequent or severe.

In the Philippine oceans, temperature spikes of 4-5 degrees Celsius above normal have been recorded, according to forecasters.

Warmer waters damage coral reefs, which can lead to a drop in fish populations, jeopardizing food security. Research shows that a healthy, undamaged coral reef can sustain a yearly harvest of 15-20 tonnes of reef fish, whereas degraded reefs can only sustain 4-5 tons.

Increased rainfall also has a negative impact on agriculture. For instance, rainfall in Tacloban City increased by 257 percent between 1998 and 2011. More rain will result in more flooding, which could lead to landslides in upland areas.

The failure of fruit trees and the postponement of fruit festivals in Mindanao may be explained by these emerging irregular climate patterns, according to experts.

There has also been a rise in pests and diseases in rice, scale insects in fruit trees, and invasive weeds brought from the uplands to the lowlands by various flood occurrences.

Between 2006 and 2013, the Philippines was hit by 75 disasters – most of which were typhoons, tropical storms, and floods, causing $3.8 billion in damage and losses to the agriculture sector.

Climate impacts on agriculture were expected to cause an annual GDP loss of up to 2.2 percent by 2100. (ai/mtvn)

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