Climate Change, Agriculture and ICT: An Exploratory Analysis
ICT FOR AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT UNDER CHANGING CLIMATE, pp. 17-28, Krishna M. Singh, M.S. Meena, eds., Narendra Publishing House, New Delhi, 2012
12 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2012
Date Written: March 23, 2012
Climate change is a long term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distributions of events around that averages (i.e. more and fewer extreme weather events. It may be limited to a specific region or may occur across the whole world. Climate change reflects a change in the energy balance of the climate system i.e. changes the relative balance between incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation from Earth.
In the context of climate variation, anthropogenic factors are human activities which affect climate. The scientific consensus on climate change is that climate is changing and these changes are in large part caused by human activities and it is largely irreversible. Consequently, the debate is shifting to reduce further human impact and to find ways to adapt to change that has already occurred and is anticipated to occur in the future.
The unimpeded growth of greenhouse gas emissions is raising the earth’s temperature. The consequences include melting glaciers, more precipitation, erratic weather events, and shifting seasons. The accelerating pace of climate change, combined with global population and income growth, threatens food security everywhere. Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change.
Population in the developing world, which are already vulnerable and food insecure, are likely to be the most seriously affected. Despite the fact that much remains to be explored in terms of the role and potential of ICTs within the climate change field, the analysis conducted here sheds light on key conceptual foundations that help better understand the complex linkages that exist within vulnerable livelihood systems, and that ultimately determine the role of digital technologies in achieving development outcomes amidst an uncertain climatic future. It may be suggested that, in the event of climate change related shocks or trends within a particular context, the capacity of the system (at the household, community or national level) to respond through adaptation can be understood either as a set of components or as a set of (sub) properties, which interact to create the adaptive capacity of the system.
Resilience, thus, emerges as an important property to consider in the analysis of livelihood systems that are subject to climate related changes and uncertainty; a property that interacts with assets and other components to shape the trajectory of functioning and adaptation after any acute or chronic disturbance. The value of this approach resides in its contribution to better understand the complex set of relations between livelihood system components, properties and processes, which in turn are characterized by the presence of multiple development stressors. It can serve as a tool to explore the potential and challenges of ICTs’ role within processes of adaptation, while facilitating the identification of strategies that could contribute to the enhancement of adaptive capacities, and ultimately to the achievement of development outcomes in the face of long term climatic uncertainty.
Ultimately, the challenge for developing countries resides not only in their capacity to withstand and recover from climatic events, but mostly in their capacity to adjust, change and transform amidst slow changing trends and unpredictable variability; while facing a future where the only certainty is uncertainty itself, and within which, development outcomes will be determined, to a large extent, by their ability to foster ‘development epiphanies’ and innovate with the support of tools such as ICTs.
Keywords: climate change, agriculture, information and communication technology
JEL Classification: O14, Q16, Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation