The Impacts of Temperature Change and Fluctuation on the Sustainability of Canadian Grain Farming

By Tony Ward.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A sustainable food supply is critical, but climate change is having a dramatic effect on agriculture in most parts of the world. In this paper I develop a statistical framework for modeling climate changes, and I produce a characterization that separates changes in annual average temperatures from changing variability within each year, to facilitate the analysis of the effects of these different factors. The data I use are records from weather stations on the Canadian Prairies since the 1870s. Many of the serious impacts on agriculture are due to within-year variation, and it is important to separate these from annual shifts. To the farmer, a gradual increase in the annual average temperature of one degree per century has a fairly small effect, particularly given that most of the increase, as is shown by this approach for Canada, has occurred in the winter. However there has been a substantial simultaneous decrease in within-year variability, the impacts of which have much more immediate effect. When combined with changes in precipitation, these effects have an enormous impact on all aspects of agriculture.

Keywords: Climate, Change, Canada, Agriculture, History

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.29-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1012.245KB).

Dr. Tony Ward

Chair and Professor, Economics, and Tourism and Environment, Brock University, St.Catharines, Ontario, Canada

PhD from UBC Canada, in Canadian economic history. I work and publish in both economic history and environmental economics, and I chair a new Department of Tourism and Environment. My main area of research is late Nineteenth Century history of the Canadian Prairie, and I am currently examining the well being of the aboriginal peoples.

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