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What Does Climate Change Mean for Agriculture in Developing Countries? A Comment on Mendelsohn and Dinar

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  • Reilly, John

Mendelsohn and Dinar review much of the important work on the implications of climate change for agriculture, focusing particularly on developing countries. Their message is that efficient economic adaptation significantly reduces the estimated effects of climate change. Few dispute that some amount of adaptation is likely and that its potential contribution to reducing the negative impacts of global warming is large. One such study (Darwin and others 1995), which analyzed the global impacts using an ecozone (land class) methodology, found that without adaptation, average cereal production yields fell roughly 20 to 30 percent in four different climate scenarios. Through various channels of adaptation (modifying crops and techniques on existing farmland, shifting crops to new land, and responding to changing market prices), these losses were reversed, resulting in small increases in production worldwide (0 to 1 percent) even before considering the positive effects of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) fertilization (table 1). Striking, however, are both the initial shock in cereal production in the study reported in table 1 and the range of impacts on yields (without adaptation) estimated by a variety of studies for different sites around the world (shown in table 2).

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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 14 (1999)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 295-305

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:14:y:1999:i:2:p:295-305
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  1. Darwin, Roy & Tsigas, Marinos E. & Lewandrowski, Jan & Raneses, Anton, 1995. "World Agriculture and Climate Change: Economic Adaptations," Agricultural Economics Reports 33933, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. John Reilly, 1995. "Climate Change and Global Agriculture: Recent Findings and Issues," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 77(3), pages 727-733.
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