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The Immense Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture by City Tech Blogger Johnny Lu

 

Climate change affects agriculture on a fundamental level. As global temperatures continue to rise year over year, agriculture suffers as a result. The elevation in temperature brings risks of droughts and or increased levels of heat that fertile soil cannot take. As a result, the once fertile soil on farms have either degraded in quality or are eroded to the point where growing crops is no longer possible. In addition to the loss of fertile soil, farmlands are also at risk of fire. Data from Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity program, suggests that the number of wildfires has gradually increased since 1985 relative to climate change and as of 2015, a minimum of 100 wildfires occurred on average per given year (ucsusa, 2022.1). The culmination of these issues result in a decreased output of crops given the decreased supply of fertile soil.

The decrease in the food supply also directly impacts the food Industry. Lower supply, while still having to meet the same or slowly growing demand, results in higher asks from farmers to businesses which are inevitable and then passed to the consumer thus raising the costs of food. In the U.S, consumer demand already outpaces the rate of output and there is a heavy reliance on imports. If the already struggling output continues to face issues, we may eventually reach a point where we solely rely on imports but at heavily inflated prices.

Another industry negatively impacted is tourism. In the U.S alone, tourism generates $1.9 trillion in economic output and helps to support 9.5 million American jobs (ITA, 2019.2). As the cost of living increases, it becomes far less attractive for tourists to travel and they may choose to delay traveling or not at all. The loss of appeal due to costs results in losses in the industry while affecting millions of that rely on tourism.

The decrease in supply and increase in pricing are eventually felt by the consumers and farmers. As climate change continues, farmers are left with unsustainable farms with agricultural output depleting to levels where they are unable make ends meet. In an article on in Time, one family of famers in Wisconsin claims a 40% loss in year over year revenue and have taken on debt to survive as they cannot sustain themselves with agriculture alone (time, 2019.3). As the negative trend continues, farmers will quit and seek other occupations in which to sustain themselves which contributes to the decrease of agriculture. The next to be affected are the consumers. Prices have increased by 11.4% between 2021-2022 with no signals of cooling. The increase in needs while wages remain flat results in a higher cost of living for most people. City dwellers may deem it unstable for them to remain where they are and move to areas with a lower cost of living and the poor may lower their food quality intake or skip meals to make ends meet.

Overall, the affect of climate change on agriculture is an immense issue that negatively impacts a spectrum of factors including a high cost of living for both consumers and producers, tourism slumps and  hunger, which will continue to plague society.

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