1 july 2017

Farmers from Missouri to West Bengal, India adapt to the global challenge of climate change

By Renee Hickman and Tanushree Sen
Special to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 1, 2017


In the agricultural heartlands of India and the United States, extreme weather events have caused damage to millions of acres of crops. Not only does this jeopardize the incomes of farmers, it puts food supplies in the United States, India and the world at risk.

Farmers are divided on the root causes of climate change. But experts who work to help them adapt say farmers are increasingly united in the recognition that their environment is changing. In places as far-flung as West Bengal and Missouri, farmers have very little choice but to seek out practical solutions to preserve their livelihoods.

According to data from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were each the warmest years on record. Climate change experts say the warming climate is driving up the numbers of droughts, floods, storms, heat waves and other weather events that can devastate crops.

Water woes

For farmers in both India and the United States, wild changes in precipitation can cause some of the most immediate problems connected to climate change.

As the Earth’s surface warms, water from oceans, lakes, rivers and streams evaporates and rises, gathering in the clouds and resulting in rain, storms and snowfall. At other times and in other places, the warming climate increases and intensifies droughts.

All farmers depend on some level of predictability in the weather to manage their businesses. Large fluctuations in precipitation patterns can result in issues such as changes to planting and growing seasons and lower crop yields.

Extreme rainfall has devastated many farms in India. In March 2015, heavy rains fell throughout India. In states such as Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, it was the wettest spring in decades, if not on record, according to the Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi.


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