The farming industry is heavily reliant upon climate conditions; sunlight, temperature and rainfall are the main drivers of crop growth. The crops we grow for food need the right temperature and right amount of water to thrive. However, a complex modern-day phenomenon is throwing the planet’s climate conditions off balance: global warming.

Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have been changing the global climate by burning fossil fuels, which release high amounts of greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. Ironically, modern agriculture itself is also a major contributor of climate change, with livestock production alone accountable for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. This buildup of GHGs causes the earth to trap extra heat, making the planet warmer. In southern areas where temperatures are already hot, excessive heat and reduced rainfall damages crop growth. Some areas also become more susceptible to stronger storms and more flooding, which is also the cause for crop losses.

For the Quechua farmers of the Andean Altiplano, climate change has drastic effects on their crops and livestock. Excessive hot and cold temperatures can destroy everything, while the longer dry season makes water hard to come by. In the Andean-dwelling communities’ battle for survival, farmers like Zenón have learned that traditional knowledge proves crucial when adapting to climate change.
Feb 8, 2016
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