In 2011, we wrote a column, “Global warming is happening: How should farmers respond?” (http://agpolicy.org/weekcol/549.html). In that column we began by saying, “There was a time when one could legitimately argue that there was a lack of scientific agreement over the issue of the role of humans in global warming and even whether we were in a cooling or warming period. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the scientific evidence.”
Well, we were wrong, not about the global warming part, but rather the “increasingly difficult to ignore the scientific evidence” part. Shortly after that column appeared in print, we were contacted by an attorney for a state’s department of agriculture who demanded to know what evidence we used to support our contention that the climate change that is occurring is human induced.
We also received emails from several readers. One wrote, “It was with some degree of astonishment that I read, and have heard discussed, this latest piece about human-caused global warming. I was under the impression that the theories about mankind’s addition to the global warming trend had been thoroughly debunked.”
Well the issue of the role of humans in climate change has not gone away. In fact, with the release of the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the urgency of addressing the issue has become greater than ever.
Both the National Geographic’s article, “A Five Step Plan to Feed the World,” which we examined in our previous column, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ publication, “Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate” (www.tinyurl.com/mb4pj5s)—the focus of this week’ column, takes the impact of agriculture on climate change and the impact of climate change on agriculture seriously.
While the National Geographic article acknowledges both impacts, it focuses its comments on feeding a larger population in 2050 and an increasing middle class in developing countries, the publication by the Chicago Council gives more background on the issue of climate change.
The Chicago Council report, with Gerald C Nelson serving as the principal author of the report and Douglas Bereuter and Dan Glickman serving as Cochairs of the advisory group responsible for the publication, provides a definition for “weather and climate.”