Graduation year: 2022
Semester/year area of interest proposed: Spring 2020
Major status: ENVS minor
Other major (if applicable): SOAN major
Minor(s) (if applicable):
Plants and the climate they live in have a particular dynamic and we are trying to understand all the elements that go into the relationship that keeps the equilibrium to allow the biomes to thrive. Currently, with the rise in global temperatures, there are increased concerns about how vegetation and agriculture will adapt to the shifts in climate of varying regions. According to Thomas Lewis (2016), there is a lot of uncertainty in all the predictions that are currently being made on plants and climate change adaptation. At this point in climate change research it is hard to determine exactly which plants will be able to adapt; which ones will end up thriving in their newly warmer homes and which ones will not be able to handle the shift. We are certain that in many regions there will be short term benefits for vegetation before temperatures increase to levels that will start having negative implications on the plants. Since year to year temperatures can vary so much plants are well equipped to adapt and navigate extreme variations in temperature and precipitation levels. Eventually, though, temperature increases will reach levels that will have impacts on the livelihood of ecosystems. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “[T]he short-term, a longer growing season and higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide may be beneficial to crops. In the longer-term, reduced water availability for irrigation, higher temperatures, and changes in pests, diseases, and weeds may harm crop yields” (US EPA, 2017). With current Earth System Models (ESMs) and research, it is found that regions such as those in the tropics will have acclimation responses that will result in the increases of the optimum temperature for photosynthesis and growth (Artaxo, 2019). Allowing plants in certain areas to flourish in the short future of climate change before temperatures reach more detrimental levels. While we have these predictions there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the full extent of the extremity of when or how these events will pan out. The research that is happening right now and the predictions we are able to make with current technology cannot accurately predict future precipitation patterns which will play a large role in determining what biomes will be able to flourish in different regions.
Areas such as South Asia and Southern Africa will be in danger of food security when temperatures rise a little more. South Asian and Southern Africa are in more danger than other parts of the world because of how current agricultural investments are being directed towards certain crops and agriculture adaptation such as those in the western world with corn and wheat production. Investments are not focusing on foods that are prevalent in these parts of the world and this uneven distribution of money and time is leading to larger disparities between western and easter countries (Lobell, 2008). Different parts of the world are more prepared for current predictions but at the same time, there is still so much uncertainty that there are no clear ways on how to be prepared.
In situating ourselves in this evolving relationship between climate change and vegetation those involved in agriculture have differing perspectives. There are contradicting opinions on how to prepare for the unknown changes and alterations that may end up happening to the current food systems we have in place. According to Arbuckle et. al (2015), many commercial farmers are unable to place enough trust in current climate predictions to alter their practices in the field to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and make significant alterations to their work that could possibly not be beneficial to them personally. At the same time, there are farms such as those Mrill (2007) touches on in her article that are interested in completely altering farming practices and going back to traditional farming ways. With so many different approaches to farming practices, such as those like permaculture and traditional farming compared to commercial farming and big ag it is hard to make blanket observations on the agriculture community and how it will react to rises in temperature. As well we have to take into consideration the role that different farming techniques play in affecting the projected climate change outcomes, any extreme changes in farming practices may have implications on the outcome of the extremity of temperature changes.
When looking at climate change it is important to consider the impact of agriculture and human manipulation of vegetation on climate change. According to the IPCC “[a]ny changes to the land and how it is used can affect exchanges of water, energy, GHGs [greenhouse gases] (e.g., CO2, CH4, N2O), non-GHGs (e.g., BVOCs [Biogenic volatile organic compounds]) and aerosols (mineral, e.g., dust, or carbonaceous, e.g., BC) between the land and the atmosphere. Land and land use change therefore alter the state (e.g., chemical composition and air quality, temperature and humidity) and the dynamics (e.g., strength of horizontal and vertical winds) of the atmosphere, which, in turn, can dampen or amplify local climate change” (IPCC, 205). When looking at the future of vegetation it is important to remember that any shift has a ripple effect and will impact so much more than we can anticipate.
- What are the biggest factors in the commercial agriculture industry that are speeding up and impacting climate change?
- How might increased frequency and duration of drought impact the distribution of water between industrial, residential, and energy use?
- Will there be a shift in the interaction between conventional farmers and their surroundings if there are changes in precipitation distribution, or will there be no changes and only a continuation of crop and water supply manipulation?
- Are we unrealistically stressing about this shift in weather patterns given the approach of food security, since historically plants have been able to adapt to variations in precipitation and temperatures?
- Is there a way for people to know that we are investing in the right technologies and techniques in the agriculture industry, specifically commercial food production, to support whatever changes might happen in the near future related to changes in temperature?
- What are some of the biggest adaptations areas that are not directly manipulated by humans going to have to make when there are new variations in temperature levels?
- Is there a way for people to evenly support the regions of the world that are going to be more heavily impacted by higher temperature levels?
GEOL 170 Climate Science (Fall 2021) – To get a solid foundation and understanding of climate past, present, and future around the world.
HIST 388 What’s for Dinner (Spring 2021) – To look at the history of food and what is consumed around the world as well as the role food play in people’s lives. This gives information and food and agriculture and how it can contribute to our climate.
SOAN 306 Social Permaculture (Spring 2021) – Looking at the interaction of humans and ecological systems. Taking account of farming systems and the role ut plays in manipulating our surroundings.
ECON 260 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics (Spring 2022) – Analysing environmental and resource problems to connect the impact of pollution and consumption. It also allows looking at cost/benefits that are involved in what we are doing to our world.
Here are the required breadth courses I will include in my ENVS major/minor: GEOL 150, SOAN 305, RELS 102. These are in addition to my ENVS core courses, and the area of interest courses I propose above.
Revisions to date
- Artaxo Netto, Paulo Eduardo et al. August 2019. “Chapter 2 : Land-Climate Interactions — Special Report on Climate Change and Land.” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/chapter/chapter-2/.
- Arbuckle, J. Gordon, Lois Wright Morton, and Jon Hobbs. 2015. “Understanding Farmer Perspectives on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation: The Roles of Trust in Sources of Climate Information, Climate Change Beliefs, and Perceived Risk.” Environment and Behavior 47 (2): 205–34. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013916513503832.
- Mrill, Ingram. 2007. “Biology and Beyond: The Science of ‘Back to Nature’ Farming in the United States.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 97 (2): 298–312. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8306.2007.00537.x.
- Lobell, David B., Marshall B. Burke, Claudia Tebaldi, Michael D. Mastrandrea, Walter P. Falcon, and Rosamond L. Naylor. 2008. “Prioritizing Climate Change Adaptation Needs for Food Security in 2030.” Science 319 (5863): 607–10. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1152339.
- Lewis, Thomas. 2016. “Predicting the Unpredictable: Potential Climate Change Impacts on Vegetation in the Pacific Northwest.” Science Findings, Pacific Northwest Research Station. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service 184.
- US EPA, OA. “Climate Impacts in the Northwest.” Overviews and Factsheets. January 2017. Accessed February 3, 2020. https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-northwest_.html.