Implications of a changing climate on the future of agriculture

MEXICO — Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County (CCE Oswego) will host a free online workshop through Zoom from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 20 on the implications of a changing climate on the future of agriculture.

This workshop will introduce climate science and why it matters from a global perspective. It will also highlight practical solutions that the agricultural community can adopt to become more resilient in the face of a shifting climate.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) stated that 2020 tied with 2016 for the hottest year on record. Also, the 10 hottest years ever recorded have all occurred since 2005. Climate projections show that under a high emission scenario, Oswego County could likely see an average of 18 days above 90°F by 2050 and 58 days above 90°F by the year 2100. From a historical perspective, from 1958 to 2013 there was only one year, 1988, when Oswego County averaged 10 days above 90°F. Not only this, but the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) states that from 1958 to 2016, the northeast region of the United States also experienced a 55% increase in heavy precipitation events. What many people may not realize is increases in temperature create heat stress on plant and livestock production, often resulting in lower yields. Increases in heavy precipitation events also have the potential of eroding topsoil and making it difficult for farmers during the planting season.

Agriculture is the foundation of any complex society because it helps provide for basic food security. This, in turn, allows for most individuals within a given society to do something else beyond a direct involvement in the daily production of food. Having a stable climate is essential for the agricultural sector. However, as the climate begins to shift over the coming decades, this could represent a major challenge for the agricultural community, including right here in upstate NY.

In essence, there are two dynamics that will be converging this century. First, the findings of climate science suggest that the agricultural community will need to learn how to adapt to a warming planet. While in some cases, increases in temperature will bring benefits to upstate, NY it will also come with significant challenges as we begin to experience more extreme weather events. Second, the agricultural community will also be expected to feed a growing population of 9-10 billion people by 2050 and over 11 billion by 2100. It is for this reason that Ben Houlton, the new Dean of Cornell CALS recently stated, “The climate challenge is the biggest threat we have ever faced as a global society.”

Guest speakers will be Allison Chatrchyan, Director of the Cornell Climate Smart Solutions Program, and Kitty O’Neil, a Climate Smart Farming Extension Associate. To register for this online workshop go to: https://cornell.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwpfumrrj0oE9yJjIALmxLASGBzV4j9vAdn

For more information or help with registering, contact Joshua Vrooman, Agricultural Community Educator for CCE of Oswego County at jwv33@cornell.edu or 315-963-7286 ext. 200.

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