An Excuse for GE | The Jackal

17 Jun 2011

An Excuse for GE

We should all know by now that climate change will affect crops that we humans rely on for sustenance. Changing seasons and fluctuating weather patterns could be devastating for food production, which is essential to maintain current population levels.

The side effects of unchecked industrialisation could grow further in scope with diseases, viruses and bacteria all finding more favourable conditions under a warmer and unstable climate. So what is the answer to this threat?

Horticulturalists have been developing new crops and cultivars through plant breeding for a long time now. How effective this relatively slow process will be at negating the unprecedented adverse effect from climate change on plant crops is debatable. However it's assuredly one of the best methods to use to advance agricultural security.

Can plants be changed to such a degree in this way as to contend with climate change at all? One can only hope so. What is required is a large undertaking of horticultural research to find specific plant crops that will suit the projected conditions. Migrating suitable crops around the globe as conditions change could help maintain production to ensure mass starvation is mitigated.

Moves to undertake such things as crop diversification are very slow to get organised to a degree that will have much effect. Unfortunately a good deal of the focus has been on genetic engineering, which has been touted as a saviour but has delivered very little in terms of increased production or resistance to pests and diseases, which are likely to increase dramatically under climate change conditions.

Research and development into suitable crops with an intelligent variety redistribution system, proper water management and decentralizing production areas is in my opinion the best methods to use. Canada made a start on just such an endeavour stating:
The applicability and success of different adaptation options will vary greatly between regions and farm types. To determine whether an adaptation option is appropriate for a given situation, its effectiveness, economic feasibility, flexibility, and institutional compatibility should be assessed. In addition, the characteristics of the producer and the farm operation should be considered, as should the nature of the climate change stimuli. Possible economic and political constraints are also important considerations.

Most importantly, however, the adaptation option should be assessed in the context of a broader decision-making process. Researchers agree that agriculture will adapt to climate change through ongoing management decisions, and that the interactions between climatic and non-climatic drivers, rather than climate change alone, will direct adaptation.
The question for New Zealand politicians is whether they're happy for the agriculture sector to be reactive to the effects of climate change, or will they undertake a plan to protect the hugely profitable sector by researching and developing pre-emptive adaptation measures to ensure the effects of climate change are minimized? With John key being a climate change denier, such a worthwhile endeavor is unlikely to gain Governmental support at all.