ESSAY ON THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE IN COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
PRESENTED BY; MWAURA PHILIP W
DATE; 25TH MARCH 2013
Climate change is now recognised as one of the most serious challenges facing the world – its people, the environment and its economies. There is now clear scientific evidence that the high concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere is causing global warming. While the world has experienced climatic changes before, the issue we now face involves human influence. It is a challenge that must and can be dealt with because its impacts will have very dire consequences on us and the generations to come. Greenhouse emmissions results from various sources in our societies. We have emmissions from industries and other human activities such as agricultural practises.It is believed that most global warming we can now observe is attributable to emissions of GHGs that result from human activities, in particular land use changes such as deforestation, and the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas). All these activities are human influenced and thus something needs to be done at the local, regional and globals levels. This essay highlights the role of agriculture in tackling climate change and some of the mitigation and adaptation measures. CLIMATE CHANGE AND AGRICULTURE
The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) define climate change as the term generally used to describe human influences on the climate. The most significant threat is the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which contribute to the ‘greenhouse effect’. The greenhouse effect is a natural mechanism essential to life on Earth, but human activity has altered the balance in the mechanism. Radiant energy emitted by the sun comes through the Earth’s atmosphere and warms its surface. This heat then radiates back into the atmosphere, but some of the sun‘s heat is absorbed in the atmosphere by gases. With increasing concentration of GHGs, this effect is amplified, thus increasing the Earth‘s temperature. There is now little doubt that climate change is happening. “Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. The observed widespread warming of the atmosphere and ocean, together with ice mass loss, support the conclusion that it is very likely that it is not due to known natural causes alone”. These are some of the conclusions of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007). Countries and individuals acknowledge the extent of the climate change problem and have agreed that it exists and needs to be addressed. Agriculture can be defined as the spatial distribution of of crops and animals for commercial and subsistence purposes all over the earth’s surfaces.The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, 2008) reports that agriculture and land-use change, such as deforestation, account for about 13 and 17 per cent, respectively of total GHG emissions from human activities. Changes in land use such as deforestation and soil degradation are two devastating effects of unsustainable farming practices that emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Agriculture is a major contributor to emmissions of methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O) and Carbon( iv)oxide (C02). On a global scale, agricultural land use in the 1990s has been responsible for approximately 15% of all the GHGs emmissions. One third of all carbon(iv)oxide comes from land-use changes such as shifting cultivation and intensification of agriculture whereas about two thirds of methane and most nitrous oxide emmisions originate from agriculture ( FAO, 2008).In addition to the direct agriculture emissions mentioned above, the production of agrochemicals is another important source of greenhouse gas emissions....