Climate change not likely to harm crops, expert explains

HONOLULU — Record yields for staple crops in the U.S. and globally in recent years seem to contradict fears that agriculture will be negatively affected by increasing climate temperatures, according to James Taylor, senior fellow for the Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment and Climate News.

Impact

Taylor spoke recently at an issues conference at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 93rd Annual Meeting. Beyond debating the issue of whether global climate change is actually taking place and whom is to blame, Taylor addressed the issue of any potential impacts on agriculture and what effect any legislation or regulation could have.

“Since 2007 we’ve seen record yields in production per acre in edible beans, cotton, alfalfa, sweet potatoes, canola, corn, hops, rice, wheat and more,” said Taylor. “This is a long-term trend, and it applies globally, too, as global grain harvests have nearly tripled since 1961. Climate is not the only factor, but even if we accept global warming as a problem, it’s clearly not inhibiting crop production.”

Data

According to data presented by Taylor, computer models have incorrectly accounted for certain climate patterns over recent decades, and data has shown fewer and less severe periods of drought and less severe flooding on a global scale.

Taylor conceded that there would certainly be regional exceptions, but on a larger scale, climate patterns could prove to be quite suitable for agriculture.

Rain

Referencing research done by the International Journal of Climatology, Taylor explained that increases in precipitation would occur more frequently during the hotter and drier seasons of the year — rather than during the spring — thus avoiding the time of year more prone to flooding.

While potential increases in temperature were not believed to be detrimental to crops, Taylor suggested that the greater threat to agriculture could come in the form of federal or state regulations regarding livestock production.

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