It’s a hot, dry summer for most of Canada, which is great for trips to the cottage and dog days by the beach. After two years of unusually cool, wet summers, it seems like a welcome change. But hot, dry weather is for farmers just another iteration of abnormal weather conditions. Farmers rely on normal weather, and it’s nowhere to be found in Canada again this year.
Droughts have been declared in coastal British Columbia and conservation authorities in regions of southern Ontario and Quebec have issued water advisories. Agricultural land in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is parched, just as in the interior of British Columbia. In Toronto, Ontario there have been more than a dozen days of temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius, where the average is four such days. Where 71.5 mm of rain is expected there, they have received 26.4. Canadians say they are suffering from “weather whiplash”, seeing opposite scenarios of unseasonal and unexpected weather back-to-back each year.
It is a perilous time to be a farmer. Across the world, 2015 broke records for unseasonal, unprecedented, and unexpected weather. The combination of El Niño and climate change produced conditions with devastating effects for the agriculture sector around the globe. This article examines the impacts of unseasonal weather on farmers around the world, in losses to yield quality and quantity but also in economic, physical and psychological effects for farmers coping with the “new normal” in weather. It considers regional differences in farmers’ susceptibility to unseasonal weather, and presents the implications of the lack of resiliency of the major crop producers for the future of food security, and by extension, political stability. Finally, it looks at how the international community is addressing this situation, concluding with practical and achievable means for farmers and cooperatives to start to build resiliency to climate change today.
Farmers around the world experience significant losses from extreme weather
It is the prize that the world did not want to see given. Nonetheless, 2015 proved to have no limit to its unseasonal and unprecedented weather. Based largely on a combination of a strong El Nino and human-induced global warming, global average surface temperatures exceeded all previous on record to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1°C above the pre-industrial era.
DOI: 10.15200/winn.145311.15172 provided by The Winnower, a DIY scholarly publishing platform
In the last week, record-breaking cold temperatures hit the eastern half of the US and Canada, powerful cyclones slammed Australia, and a devastating drought rages on in Brazil. At the same time, there is no scientific body of national or international standing now disputing the human contribution to climate change.
So why is hardly anyone compelled to do hardly anything about it? Could it be possible that the answer to the climate change crisis is not in our will to keep the planet and ourselves alive … but to keep our bank balances in the black?
DOI: 10.15200/winn.142960.04578 provided by The Winnower, a DIY scholarly publishing platform