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Past Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture


  • Mendelsohn, Robert


This paper examines the likely impact on agriculture of the climate change which has already taken place between 1960 and 2000. Accumulating greenhouse gases have caused global temperatures to rise approximately 0.25[thin space][degree sign]C during this period and for precipitation patterns to shift. Using cross-sectional and crop simulation evidence, temperature, precipitation, and carbon dioxide response functions are used to calculate the impacts on agriculture. Temperature and precipitation changes together have caused estimated global impacts ranging from a loss of 0.05% to a gain of 0.9% of agricultural GDP. Including carbon fertilization effects, historic climate change is estimated to have caused a 2-4% increase in global production. Given the rapid increase in agricultural production over the last 40 years, the contribution of climate change to the overall growth of agriculture has been small, contributing between 2.6% and 5.4% of overall growth. This effect has been larger in mid to high latitude countries where climate change is estimated to have caused 4-7% of historic agricultural growth and smaller in low latitude countries where the climate change has contributed between 0.6% and 3% of the growth. Future climate changes which are expected to be much larger, may well have very different effects than past climate changes. Future changes may continue to be slightly beneficial to global agriculture up to about 2.5[thin space][degree sign]C, but they will eventually become harmful and cause reductions in global production.

Suggested Citation

  • Mendelsohn, Robert, 2007. "Past Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:hagchp:5-60

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    Cited by:

    1. Basurto, Saul, 2016. "A Mexican Ricardian analysis: land rental prices or net revenues?," 90th Annual Conference, April 4-6, 2016, Warwick University, Coventry, UK 236362, Agricultural Economics Society.
    2. Sarah, Alobo, 2009. "Value and Premium for Titled Agricultural Land in Uganda," Research Theses 243467, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    3. Seo, Sungno Niggol & Mendelsohn, Robert, 2007. "The impact of climate change on livestock management in Africa : a structural Ricardian analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4279, The World Bank.
    4. Mora-Rivera, José Jorge, 2013. "efectos del cambio climático sobre la renta de la tierra de guatemala: un enfoque ricardiano," eseconomía, Escuela Superior de Economía, Instituto Politécnico Nacional, vol. 0(38), pages 7-38, segundo t.

    More about this item


    Farmers; Farm Production and Farm Markets;

    JEL classification:

    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture


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