Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Climate change models find staple crops face ruin

Seed Daily: A new study by researchers from the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the United Kingdom's Waen Associates has found that by 2050, hotter conditions, coupled with shifting rainfall patterns, could make anywhere from 500,000 to one million square kilometers of marginal African farmland no longer able to support even a subsistence level of food crops. However, the land, on which some 20 to 35 million people currently live, may still support livestock.

Boosting livestock production could be an attractive alternative for millions of poor farmers across Africa who, in the coming decades, could find that climate change has rendered their lands unsuitable for crop cultivation yet still viable for raising animals, according to the study that appears this week in a special edition of the journal Environmental Science and Policy.

"Livestock, particularly animals that are known to be tolerant of heat and drought, can survive in conditions that are far more severe than what crops can tolerate," said Philip Thornton, an ILRI scientist and one of the paper's co-authors…

Kenya's Lake Turkana in 1979, shot by Robin Alasdair Frederick Hutton from Perth, Western Australia, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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