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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #353810

Research Project: Development and Application of Mechanistic Process-Driven Crop Models for Assessing Effects and Adapting Agriculture to Climate Changes

Location: Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory

Title: Climate change and agriculture: A historical analysis

item UPRETY, DINESH - Indian Agricultural Research Institute
item Reddy, Vangimalla
item MURA, JYOSTNA - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)

Submitted to: Climate Change and Agriculture: A Historical Analysis
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/27/2018
Publication Date: 7/31/2018
Citation: Uprety, D.C., Reddy, V., Mura, J.D. 2018. Climate change and agriculture: A historical analysis. Climate Change and Agriculture: A Historical Analysis.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Climate and agriculture are interrelated processes with climate change significantly affecting agricultural development and production. The book "Climate Change and Agriculture: A Historical Analysis" provides a historical understanding of climate change and its impact on agricultural development and production. The book illustrates the role of climate in the origin of agriculture and societal development in the ancient world, and drastic changes in climate within the shorter period in the present times. The influence of climate on agriculture was associated with emergence and decline of early societies, either facilitating the development of cities and technological progress, or in the case of insufficient yield, leading to the collapse of civilization. Climate change occurring due to natural causes as well as anthropogenic activities has been influencing human civilization since its inception. The resumption of a warming trend during a stable Holocene period after an unstable climate of glacial-interglacial cycles created suitable conditions to pursue agriculture. Farming and availability of food made people settle down, evolve and develop agrarian societies. Later, fluctuations in the climate brought about the rise and downfall of colossal ancient civilizations like Harappan, Mayans, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egyptian, etc. In most cultures, the peak of civilization was marked by stable temperatures and monsoons and fall by weak monsoons and droughts with probable impact on agricultural yields. Scientific evidence indicates abnormal variations in the climate and the effects of these variations on crop production. Revisiting the past and present climates help the researchers to understand a wide range of climate processes while projecting 21st-century climate change. They can also assist in assessing the existing climatic conditions in regions with a high risk of crop failures. Comprehensive data of the Earth’s surface temperature from Glacial to the present indicates that each of the past four decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any of the previous decades. The impacts of climate change on human societies include the increase in temperature, rise in sea level, and changes in precipitation patterns that affect agriculture. While many factors continue to influence climate, scientists believe that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, aerosols, and changes in land use are contributing to the change. Warmer temperatures associated with climate change, can extend the growing season, but affect plant growth and development along with crop yield. Climate scientists and Archaeologists are finding plenty of evidence supporting that climate changes are partly to blame for the collapse of ancient civilizations. They rarely find any evidence that the ancestral societies made any attempts to change in the face of a drying climate, warming atmosphere and other changes. History of the past societies offers the opportunity to protect the future of our society by learning from the experiences of our ancestors. With technology development and knowledge in the present era, several mitigations and adaptation options like changing planting dates, using tolerant varieties, alternative crops, resource management, intercropping, livestock management and agroforestry etc. are available that the agriculture sector can undertake to cope with existing and future climate change. The impact of past changes on climate in the agricultural and social activities has been stepwise described in this book. This information will be highly informative, beneficial and useful to the students, scientists, farmers, and policymakers for planning their future programs.