US Feels effects of Climate Change
In something of a turnabout, the U.S. launches the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, designed to find ways to preserve the environment while creating a more sustainable path to food security.
It’s the same country that refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty that sets binding obligations on industrialized countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
But with record droughts from Kansas to the American southwest, deadly wildfires in California and earlier, more frequent and more destructive storms and tornadoes in the heartland, the U.S. now concedes it is feeling the effects of climate change.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the combined average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces for August was a record high for the month, at 0.75° above the 20th century average of 60.1°F.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says farmers, ranchers and other producers in the U.S. and around the world are feeling the impact of climate change now.
“They are experiencing production challenges from extended droughts, more severe flooding, stronger storms, and new pests and diseases,” he says. “Long term global food security depends on us acting together now.”
But it’s not itself the U.S. says it is worrying about,
These same conditions have a dire impact across the developing world, especially for poor, rural smallholder farmers whose very lives are threatened every time the rains arrive late, the floods rush in, or the temperature soars.
With the world’s population expected to reach nine billion people by 2050, feeding them will require at least a 60% increase in agricultural production.
“There is no greater challenge to meeting this need than climate change,” Secretary of State John Kerry and Vilsack say in a statement.
“It poses a range of unprecedented threats to the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people and to the very planet that sustains us. In order to ensure that hundreds of millions of people are not born into a debilitating cycle of under-nutrition and hunger, we must address the urgent threat that climate change poses.”
The new alliance’s solutions will encompass every type of climate and agricultural system, including better crop, livestock, and aquaculture varieties that can tolerate extreme heat, drought, and floods.
“We are also testing and deploying innovative tools for farmers, like weather-indexed crop and livestock insurance to help communities build resilience to severe weather,” Kerry and Vilsack say.
“The alliance will advance a more inclusive, innovative, and evidence-based approach to food security. It will provide platforms for partners to collaborate on agricultural practices, make key investments, develop policies that empower producers to mitigate the impact of climate change and, through sustainable agriculture practices, contribute to a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”
The alliance will work in concert with the U.S. Global Climate Change Initiative, drawing on its expertise and experience grappling with climate change challenges in more than 50 developing countries.
“This climate-specific knowledge and practice being pioneered today will be critical to protect lives and livelihoods, and promote low-carbon growth and development around the world,” the two officials say.
“Addressing climate change will not be an easy fix, and it won’t be simple. Long term global food security depends on us acting together now. By joining together, we can design new technologies and create new alliances to effectively protect and manage the environment that supports us—and the thriving ecosystems that will sustain our world for generations to come.”