Tomorrow is the United Nation’s “World Food Day” and the focus is on the pressing need for the world to adapt to climate change. But even before “climate change” became a political concern, the poor have been unable to deal effectively with drought, storms and flooding.
Now government programmes in the name of climate change have already had terrible results – more than US$ 11 billion worth of subsidies were used to turn food crops into biofuels last year. This contributed substantially to the rise in food prices that helped push 75 million more people below the hunger threshold.
There is a case for government to provide flood defences and other collective goods, but most adaptation will occur at a much more local scale and as such is best left to individuals.
In a new report, world-renowned agricultural economists Professors Douglas Southgate and Brent Songhen point out that farmers will likely adapt to global warming by switching crops, and adopting new technologies and farming methods – just as they have done for centuries.
The launch of the report, Weathering Global Warming in Agriculture and Forestry by Douglas Southgate and Brent Sohngen (November 2008, International Policy Network), coincides with World Food Day and can now be downloaded here.
A calf drinking from a nearly full farm dam: Photograph taken just south of Oberon, Central Tablelands, New South Wales (Australia) by Jennifer Marohasy, October 14, 2008.