Vulnerability of Crops to Climate Change: A Practical Method of Indexing
GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND AGRICULTURE: ASSESSING THE IMPACTS, Frisvold & Kuhn, editors, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp.193-217
27 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2011 Last revised: 17 Nov 2015
Date Written: April 18, 1999
Consideration of how to respond to climate change frequently turns upon the evaluation of the undesirable consequences of some possible effect of that change. For coastal property, for example, sea level rise might inundate homes or cause salt water to intrude on sources of fresh water. In the agricultural sectors, hotter climates might cause crop yields to fall, with or without prudent adaptation. If we think of the consequences of climate change as the result of crossing a physically determined threshold, then it can be instructive to consider the probability of reaching that threshold under various states of the world. Initially ignoring the potential for adaptation can allow the research to focus on crops and growing regions where adaptation might be the most helpful. We begin with the notion that the probability of crossing a threshold can be a workable metric of vulnerability. This chapter will develop a uniformly applicable index to characterize probabilistically, the crossing of one or more thresholds. The vulnerability index accounts for uncertainty in our understanding of how the climate might be changing and uncertainty in our understanding of the consequences of climate change. A complementary index of sustainability is simply one minus the vulnerability index.
Keywords: vulnerability, uncertainty, consequences of climate change, sustainability
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