Global Climate Change Inequity: Who’s Carrying Whom?

by Coco Coyle

Because the Earth’s atmosphere intermixes globally, all areas of the globe are equally exposed to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). However, some countries are more vulnerable to the effects of these emissions, while some countries release more GHGs into the atmosphere than others. Althor et al. (2016) compare each country’s vulnerability to climate change to its creation of GHGs for the years 2010 and 2030. They found that the countries least vulnerable to climate change were higher GHG emitters, and the most vulnerable countries were least responsible for GHG emissions. By 2030 the inequity will have worsened. The authors call for climate change policies that place more responsibility for mitigating climate change on the high-emitters. Continue reading

Combining the Effects of Climate Change and Agriculture on Mammal Populations

by Coco Coyle

In concert with the effects of climate change, some agricultural practices are having an unanticipated combined effect on ecosystems and biodiversity. Brodie (2016) showed that agricultural expansion coupled with climate change will have a more intense effect on the mammals in the extremely biodiverse region of Southeast Asia than either cause alone. Rising temperatures allow farmers to expand the growing region for cold-sensitive crops like the non-native oil-palm trees. While rising temperatures themselves do not disrupt the region’s mammalian species, the destruction of native forests in place of new agricultural areas would reduce mammal ranges by 47-67% by 2070. This is 3-4 times the reduction predicted considering direct effects from conversion of natural forest to plantations alone. In this study Brodie calls for a greater investigation of the combined effects of climate change and agriculture on biodiversity. Continue reading

Comparing the Environmental and Economic Advantages of Organic and Conventional Farming

by Coco Coyle

In the Niayes region in Senegal, a country on Africa’s western coast, over three quarters of the population rely on local agriculture for their livelihood as well as for food. Furthermore, agriculture causes approximately one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, so investigation of more sustainable farming practices may assist in reducing agriculture’s contribution to global warming. Binta and Barbier (2015) found that in the Niayes region, for farms of the same size, conventional practices are more economically profitable than organic practices. Thus while organic farming results in lesser greenhouse gas emissions and better health for farmers and consumers, conventional practices utilizing inorganic fertilizers and pesticides are more common. Ways to encourage more organic farming would be to develop local markets for organic produce, and to invest in research to improve organic management. Continue reading

Influence of Extreme Weather Disasters on Global Cereal Production

by Coco Coyle

Increases in numbers and intensity of extreme weather disasters are linked to climate change and rising global temperatures. Agriculture is both a cause and a victim of climate change, and is susceptible to natural disasters and extreme weather disasters (EWDs). Lesk et al (2015) estimate global cereal production losses resulting from four major types of EWDs—extreme heat, droughts, extreme cold, and floods—in the period 1964–2007, analyze the underlying processes resulting in those losses, and identify several areas with potential for further study. They found that extreme heat disasters and droughts on average reduced national cereal production by 9–10%, while there was no significant drop in production from extreme cold and floods. Continue reading