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Presentation

2nd Revision

Introduction

 
FAQ
Will China's agriculture suffer from climate change?
This is a very difficult question to answer, because key parameters of the problem are still unknown or can be predicted only with high uncertainty. However, three elements of the problem have to be considered:
If climate scenarios of current General Circulation Models (GCMs) are used to determine those areas in China, which are potentially suitable for rain-fed crop cultivation (wheat, maize, etc), one can find that these areas will expand to the North. Increased temperature and precipitation in the temperate and cool higher latitudes (due to global warming) would improve growing conditions in the currently water-constrained Northern plain of China. This could especially boost production of wheat and maize. Higher precipitation and temperature in Inner Mongolia should also increase the productivity of the huge grassland areas - and thus provide better conditions for ruminant livestock production.
On the other hand there is a number of climate researchers who have predicted a higher frequency and greater strength of "extreme" weather conditions, such as taifunes, hurricanes or droughts. Especially the monsoon system could become more volatile. This could seriously affect China's paddy rice areas in the South and South-East. Harvest losses due to flooding or thunderstorms could increase.
The global warming impact on China's agriculture is, however, not only the net-effect of the above mentioned positive and negative natural effects. There are important institutional, technical and economic factors. For instance, if China does not significantly improve dams and flood management systems, it will become even more vulnerable to flooding disasters triggered by global warming (flooding is already the major cause of arable land-loss). In other words:China's investment decisions into infrastructure will affect, how serious climate change impacts will become in the future.
On balance, it can be concluded that China will probably have a slight advantage of global warming. Several authors have come to this conclusion (see for instance: Mendelsohn / Morrison, 1998; Ye Dusheng / Lin Hai, et al, 1995).
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Revision 2.0 (First revision published in 1999)  - Copyright 2011 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. (First revision: Copyright 1999 by IIASA.)