October 9, 2018: The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned about the consequences of allowing mean temperature to rise above 1.5ºC. In 1990, I had pointed out that even a 1ºC rise in mean temperature could cause a reduction of about 400 kilograms of grains per hectare in wheat in North India. The reason is the reduction in duration caused by higher mean temperature. In contrast, an increase in mean temperature will confer benefits to the farmers of northern latitudes because this will lead to an increase in the length of the duration of the crop. South Asia and sub Saharan Africa will be the area’s most adversely affected. Therefore we have to take proactive steps to prepare ourselves to manage temperature rise.
An immediate step should be breeding of crop varieties characterised by higher per day productivity rather than per crop productivity has being done now. Climate smart nutri-cereals (millets) will have to be promoted. Climate management is both a science and an art. We will have to marry traditional wisdom with modern science if we are to insulate our crops from the adverse impact of higher mean temperature. There should also be increased effort in developing cropping systems which are climate smart and nutrition rich. Climate risk management centers will have to be established in every panchayat. If these steps are not taken, food and nutrition security will be impacted adversely.
I am happy that the importance of economics of climate change has been highlighted through this years’ award of Nobel Prize for Economics to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer.