National Climate Assessment Carries Warnings for Agriculture

The U.S. Global Change Research Program has released The Fourth National Climate Assessment, an examination of the effects of climate change on the United States, reported to Congress and the President. A team of more than 300 federal and non-federal experts volunteered their time to produce the assessment. Chapter 10 of the Assessment is on “Agriculture and Rural Communities.” This chapter contains four key messages. The first is that there will be reduced agricultural productivity due to increasing drought and shifting precipitation patterns. Second, the Assessment indicates that degradation of critical soil and water resources will expand as extreme precipitation events increase across our agricultural landscape. Third, the Assessment notes that challenges to human and livestock health are growing due to the increased frequency and intensity of high temperature extremes. Finally, the Assessment concludes that residents in rural communities often have limited capacity to respond to climate change impacts, due to poverty and limitations in community resources. This makes rural residents especially vulnerable to climate change impacts. “Achieving social resilience to these challenges would require increases in local capacity to make adaptive improvements in shared community resources,” says the Assessment. The complete text of the document is available online.