Agriculture refers to the practice of cultivating crops and rearing animals as well as various forms of life for food and fulfillment of other human needs. There are several systems used in food production including industrial agriculture, organic agriculture, and permaculture. These systems have similar objectives but apply different principles and methods. The two major forms of agricultural systems include crop cultivation and livestock production.
Climate change and agriculture are interrelated in significant ways. Climate change affects agricultures in ways that include changes in rainfall amounts and distribution, rise in temperatures, and shifts in weather patterns (Johansen 54). In addition, it affects the distribution and prevalence of diseases and pests, changes in carbon dioxide quantities in the atmosphere, and shifts in ground-level ozone concentrations.
Agriculture and global warming
Industrial farming results in the emission of huge amounts of greenhouse gases that pollute the environment. Industrial agriculture is the main system practiced by developed countries that have adequate resources. According to statistics, this system contributes approximately 20% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Johansen 56). On the other hand, using land for agricultural activities accounts for 12% of all greenhouse emissions in the world.
Industrial farming encourages the use of fertilizers and pesticides that are major sources of pollutants (Mendelsohn and Dinar 35). Additionally, the manufacture and use of farm inputs such as tractors and heavy machinery contribute significantly to the rising carbon footprint. Changes in global warming trends affect natural balance and the environment in ways that alter agricultural productivity.
High amounts of heat affect agriculture because plants cannot adjust quickly to rapid changes in global temperatures and greenhouse concentrations in the atmosphere (Mendelsohn and Dinar 36). The high carbon footprint interferes with natural processes such as the ecological and environmental recycle processes that are important in agriculture.
The high carbon footprint from industrial agriculture causes elevation of carbon dioxide concentrations in the environment that consequently increase the rates of photosynthesis (Mendelsohn and Dinar 37). However, this phenomenon has negative effects too. High amounts of carbon dioxide result in slow development of stomata that result in low usage of water by plants thus affecting their growth and productivity.
Research has shown that high amounts of carbon dioxide lead to decreased concentrations of nutrients in plants thus lowering the quality of foliage produced (Johansen 67). In addition, it affects the uptake of nitrogen from the environment. Animals are affected by this phenomenon because plants with low concentration of nutrients affect their productivity and growth. Global warming has an effect on soil fertility because it washes away the vital nutrients from the soil and also causes leaching.
Global warming is characterized by high temperatures that result in a highly vigorous hydrological cycle that causes soil erosion (Lobell and Burke 45). Changes in land use have also contributed to the high carbon footprint. Industrial agriculture promotes activities such as deforestation that raise soil temperatures.
On the other hand, the use of pesticides, fertilizers, heavy farm machinery, and other chemicals pollute water bodies, air, and soil (Lobell and Burke 50). Industrial agriculture promotes farming practices that emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the environment.
Possible effects on the industry
The high carbon footprint from industrial farming is likely to affect agriculture in various ways. It will lower agricultural production and affect the industry’s potential to supply the growing global population with food and other necessities (Mendelsohn and Dinar 40). The effects of the high carbon footprint on agriculture are likely to be negative because adequate measures are not being taken to address the challenge.
High rates of environmental pollution, increases in emission of greenhouse gases from industrial agriculture, and ozone depletion will intensify the problem. Food insecurity is likely to rise because food supply will reduce if global warming persists (Lobell and Burke 51). On the other hand, it is likely to result in a shift in agricultural zones towards the poles and changes in production patterns. The poor and the landless will be more vulnerable and there will be shifts in precipitation patterns.
This means that the industry will move to new geographic regions that will not be heavily hit by the global warming scourge. The problem of high carbon footprint and its effect on agriculture can be mitigated by embracing new technology and innovation. Poor people and small scale farmers will be the most financially hit. In addition, businesses that sell agricultural products will suffer financially because of the high costs of farm products.
Companies that focus on developing new technologies will benefit the most because there will be need for new technologies to address the high carbon footprint from industrial agriculture. In past years, technological advances have helped humans increase production in agriculture and thus counter the problem of food insecurity (Lobell and Burke 57). In future, there will be need for advanced technologies to counter the effects of global warming.
Global warming has severe implications on agriculture. It lowers productivity, increases carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, leads to ozone depletion, and changes precipitation patters.
The high carbon footprint from industrial agriculture increases temperatures and solar radiation, and causes uneven precipitation that lower production and affect the hydrological cycle. In future, there will be need for technological advancements, embracement of new strategies, and shifts of agricultural zones to new regions in order to counter the detrimental effects of global warming.
Johansen, Bruce. The Global Warming Desk Reference. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002. Print.
Lobell, David, and Burke Marshall. Climate Change and Food Security: Adapting Agriculture to a Warmer World. New York: Springer Science & Business Media, 2009. Print.
Mendelsohn, Robert, and Dinar Ariel. Climate Change and Agriculture: An Economic Analysis of Global Impacts, Adaptation and Distribution Effects. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009. Print.