CIESIN Thematic Guides

Adaptations to Global Climate Change

A number of studies have demonstrated the importance of farm, state, and national level adaptations as a response to global climate change. Many feasible strategies to reduce sources of greenhouse gases are available at reasonable economic costs. In much of the recent literature, the authors contend that by integrating technological options and management strategies, significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved. Four major areas of technical options and management strategies are discussed below.

Reducing Methane Emissions from Rice Cultivation is possible through rice productivity increases and improved crop residue management. High-yielding rice varieties suited to unflooded conditions would reduce methane emissions per unit of rice produced. Changes in fertilizer application methods, such as direct placement during transplanting, could increase the fertilizer use efficiency without an accompanying increase in methane emissions.

Reducing Methane Emissions from Livestock could be brought about by use of feed additives that increase digestion efficiency, thereby increasing animal productivity. Other strategies include reducing methane from animal wastes and reducing demand for livestock products.

Reducing Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Nitrogenous Fertilizer would result from improved fertilizer use efficiency through management changes such as deep placement in the soil or technological changes such as nitrification inhibitors, reduced-release-rate fertilizers, and fertilizer coatings. These practices increase the fraction of applied fertilizer taken up by the plants and reduce total fertilizer requirements.

Strategies to Reduce Direct Effects of Global Warming, altered precipitation, and evapotranspiration include introducing crop varieties that require either longer or shorter growing seasons. Using sedentary agricultural technologies as a substitute for shifting agriculture would reduce demand for natural forest land and products. This strategy, in turn, would reduce the net emission of CO2. Preparing U.S. Agriculture for Global Climate Change includes a table on management strategies to enhance soil carbon sequestration (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology 1992).

Chapter 7 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report Policy Options for Stabilizing Global Climate provides an overview of global climate change adaptations (Lashof and Tirpak 1990). Jodha (1990) also addresses possible adaptations in "Potential Strategies for Adapting to Greenhouse Warming." Rosenberg (1992) offers a broad view of adaptations in "Adaptation of Agriculture to Climate Change."