Climate change has become a topic of debate among developed and developing countries on international forums. It may be a mere news or academic subject matter for people earning their livelihood out of everyday struggles. But the fact is that this problem, which has adverse effects on air, water, agriculture, food, health, livelihood and housing etc, affects the lives of all of us.
Rising average temperatures, extremities of weather, and other climate related conditions are not limited to any particular communities or regions. If people from coastal or island areas are affected by the rise in sea level, farmers are suffering from unusual monsoon or water crisis; residents of the coast are bearing the brunt of catastrophic storms; people of many regions are suffering from drought and flood conditions, unusual weather-related odd diseases and those who lost their home and everything else in destructive floods are forced to migrate to other areas.
Indeed, the whole world is facing the challenge of climate change. It has already adversely affecting agricultural productivity. As a matter of fact, most food crops grow best within a certain temperature range. For example, wheat at about 15 degree Celsius, maize at 20 degree Celsius, and rice at 25 degree Celsius. So, any alternation in temperature due to climate change poses threat to the quantity as well as quality of crops.
Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture
Impact of Climate Change on Crops
The potential impact of climate change is visible in the agriculture sector. Climate change will not only affect the production of crops but also have a negative effect on their quality. Lack of nutrients and protein will be found in the grains, due to which the health of humans will be affected even after taking balanced foods and such deficiency will have to be compensated by other artificial options. Due to temperature rise in coastal areas, the production of most crops will decrease.
Climate change will mainly have two types of effects – one area-based and the second crop-based. So, it will have different effects on different crops in different areas.
Wheat and paddy are the main food crops of our country; their production will suffer due to climate change, which is as follows:
Studies have found that if temperature rises by around 2°C, then in most places wheat production will be reduced. There will be less impact where wheat productivity is high (say in northern India), however, there will be more impact of climate change in areas where there is less productivity.
If the temperature increases by 1 centigrade, wheat production will decrease 4-5 million tonnes. However, if the farmer fixes wheat sowing time, the fall of production can be reduced by 1-2 tonnes.
Paddy cultivation comprises 42.5 percent of our country’s total crop production. Paddy production will start falling along with temperature rise. It is estimated that the production of paddy will be reduced by 0.75 tonnes per hectare with temperature rise by 2 centigrade.
The eastern part of the country will be more affected by paddy production as the quantity of grains will decrease. Paddy is a rainfall-based crop, so with the climate change, the production of this crop will be much more affected than the wheat if the conditions of floods and droughts are increased.
Impact of Climate Change on Livestock
The impact of climate change is also seen on animals, along with crops and trees. The possible effects can be:
The increase in temperature affects the growth, health and production of animals. It increases heat stress in them leading to their decreased production and increased vulnerability to diseases. It is estimated that due to temperature rise, milk output can fall by 1.6 million tonnes by 2020 and more than 15 million tonnes by 2050. Conception rate can go very low due to changes in the quantity, intensity and distribution patterns of rainfall over the years; higher average temperatures and heat waves, adversely affecting animals in sensitive stages of their life cycle.
The worst decline will be in hybrid cows (0.63 percent), in buffaloes (0.50 percent) and in domestic breeds (0.40 percent). The species of hybrid breeds are less tolerant towards heat, hence their breeding capacity and milk production will be affected the most. While the effect of climate change on the indigenous breeds will be less visible.
The heat stress has a negative effect on the quality of ova and the increased temperature of the heat-affected animal reduces the development of the foetus, resulting in poor embryonic implantation and increase in foetal death rate.
Changes in the warming and distribution of rainfall can lead to changes in the spatial or theoretical distribution of diseases such as anthrax, black quarter, hemorrhagic septicaemia and vector-borne diseases, which flourish in the presence of moisture.
Changes in temperature, rainfall, drought, storm and flood can drastically affect fish aquaculture. Some commercially significant species cannot afford these extreme conditions.
Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources
About 71 percent of the Earth is covered in water, 97 percent of which is saline water found in the oceans. Only a total of 136 thousand cubic meters of water is left for human consumption. Water is found in three forms- Liquid which is found in oceans, rivers, ponds and underground water, Solid – which is found in the form of ice, and Gas – which is present in the atmosphere by gas-evaporation. Water consumption in the world doubles every 20 years, whereas the amount of water available on the Earth is limited. In urban areas, too much water is wasted in agriculture and in industries. It is estimated that if properly arranged, water can be saved from 40 to 50 percent.
Due to climate change, there will be severe problem of water supply to the farmers and the frequency of floods and droughts will increase. Long dry weather in the semi-arid areas and the failure of crop production will increase. Not only this, the risk of water availability for irrigation can also be felt due to the increase in water drift on the mouth of large rivers, salinity, floods and urban and industrial pollution.
The importance of ground water is highest in our lives. Besides drinking, this water is used for agriculture as well as industries. Traditional sources of water are getting almost exhausted in the villages. The village ponds, ponds, were useful in maintaining the water level of the well. Farmers used to accumulate more rainfall in their fields so that the humidity and fertility of the land remained. But now by running tube wells and availability of electricity at low prices, farmers have stopped to conserve water in their fields.
With population increasing, it is natural that demand for water has increased, but due to rising water pollution and lack of proper water management, water has started becoming a problem today. Climate change will further increase the lack of potable water in the whole world.
Impact of Climate Change on the Soil
Like other components of agriculture, soil is also being affected by climate change. Due to the use of chemical fertilizers, the soil was already getting polluted. Now, due to the increase in temperature, soil moisture and efficiency will be affected. Salinity in the soil will increase and biodiversity will decrease. The decreasing level of ground water will also affect soil fertility. Due to the disasters like floods, soil erosion will be high, but due to drought, it will increase the barrenness. Fertile soil degradation will help in making the fields barren due to the decline in tree plantation and lack of bio-diversity.
Impact of Climate Change on Diseases
Climate change has tremendous impact on the growth of pests and diseases. Due to temperature, moisture and atmospheric gases, there will be an increase in the reproduction of plants, fungus and other pathogens and changes in the inter-relationships of insects and their natural enemies. The warm climate is helpful in increasing the fertility of insects. In the spring, summer and autumn season, the reproduction of many pests completes its life cycle. By hiding somewhere in the winter, they keep the larvae alive. The change in the direction of air increases bacteria, fungus as well as air pests. In order to control them, more and more quantities of pesticides are used which lead to other diseases. Similarly, diseases in animals grow.
Impact of Climate Change at a Glance
- By 2100, the productivity of crops will decrease by 10-40 percent.
- Rabi crops will be more damaged. If the temperature increases by one centigrade, there will be a reduction of 4-5 million tonnes in grain production.
- Due to the increase in drought and flooding, there will be uncertainty in the production of crops.
- The field of crop sowing will also change; crops will be produced at some new places.
- In the food trade, there will be imbalances across the world.
- For human beings, water, animal and energy related needs will increase, especially for milk production.
- Due to the increase in temperature of the sea and rivers water, fertility and availability of fishes and aquatic animals will be reduced.
- There will be impact on micro-organisms and insects. If the number of insects increases, the microbes will be destroyed.
- The crops of rain-fed areas will suffer more because the availability of water for irrigation will also be reduced.
Many crops that used to be grown with less water and without chemical fertilizers have been exhausted and replaced by new crops, which require large amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, modified seeds and irrigation. With this, the cost of farming has increased and the method of farming has changed. Its direct impact can be seen on the level of life and lifestyle of the rural farming community. Farmers have been forced to move towards other businesses due to farming becoming a loss-incurring deal. The yield in the farm increased but the cost became many times more, resulting in a crisis of surplus. With some reshuffle in summer, winter and rainy season, the cycle of crops, irrigation and harvesting season changed, and due the pressure of early farming, there has been more dependence on motorized motor vehicles than animals.
There is a need to study the immediate and far-reaching effects of climate change on agriculture. We must do two things in this area immediately. One, to know what impact is climate change bringing about on the agricultural cycle; second, whether we can compensate for this change by growing some alternative crops. At the same time, we should develop varieties of crops that are capable of dealing with the dangers of climate change, such as the development of crops that are able to tolerate extremities of weather such as more heat, and more/less rainfall. The ill-effects of climate change can be reduced by adopting appropriate agricultural methods. For this, the governments, agriculture departments and the farmers across the world will have to work together.