Seminar Abstract

DATE:  FRIDAY, April 14, 2017
TIME:  2:30 P.M. - Room 223 (Refreshments served at 2:15 pm)
PLACE: Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences Bldg.
14 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Joshua W. Elliott
Research Associate Professor, University of Chicago and Argonne National Lab Computation Institute
Adjunct Research Scientist, Columbia University Center for Climate Systems Research and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Global Change and Food Security, One Crisis at a Time

It is crucially important that we better understand and build system-wide resilience to global change and its effects on food productivity around the world. Most of the atmospheric warming expected by mid-century is likely already "baked in" to the earth system, due to inertia in physical and socio-political systems. But global change is much more than just warming. Its population growth, wealth and wealth distribution, changing diets and rapidly increasing meat demand in wealthy households. Global change means increasingly erratic weather and extremes, with devastating droughts and floods threatening farmers and their livelihoods every year. Its also rapidly depleting surface and groundwater resources in some regions, as well as completely unacceptable rates of deforestation and species extinction. However, global change also means rapid technological growth that can increase productivity and provide access to data for improved decision-making in farm and environmental management. And it means unlocking the capacity of farmers around the world to adapt to climate change, and even to take advantage of new opportunities. And just like climate, these factors are also changing rapidly and in many cases exponentially into regimes way outside any historical experience or context. Evaluating the future of agricultural production and food security requires integrated approaches that take account of this multi-dimensional risk and opportunity space. I will present a variety of recent and ongoing examples of these types of analysis, along with some speculations for future physical and information technology to increase productivity and improve resilience to extreme climatic events.

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