The Future of Food and Agriculture in the Face of Climate Change

California is the top agriculture-producing state in the country, and that big business presents big challenges. California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross addressed many of the key issues during a speech presented by UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.

Secretary Ross talks at length about the impact climate change has already had on the state’s resources and the effects we can expect to see in the future. She says prolonged droughts, like the one California just escaped, will become more common. But, we can also expect more severe flooding. Ross says the state needs to take a big-picture approach to water and land management in order to mitigate future disasters. But, she says there is hope. Agriculture accounts for just eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California, compared to 30 percent worldwide. Ross says her department and private farmers are working on ways to bring down greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in California, and she hopes their progress can serve as a model for sustainable farming worldwide.

Following her speech, Secretary Ross covers everything from immigration reform to the future of agricultural careers in a fascinating Q&A moderated by her former colleague, Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Institute, Ann Thrupp.

Watch California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross

Beyond the Brink?

Are we beyond the brink? With months of oppressive heat and unrelenting fires – the fingerprint – or perhaps the firm boot print – of climate change is planted on California as global warming marches on to change everything about the future.

“Adequate water for food for the nation is a water security issue, and it’s also a national security issue,” says UC Merced CITRIS researcher Roger Bales.

Drought, climate change, an aging infrastructure and growing population threaten the water California’s San Joaquin Valley uses to supply most of the nation’s produce and a large proportion of its livestock and dairy. This excerpt from a new documentary previews an examination of water problems and solutions across the United States and globally.

Watch Water Supply and National Security: Beyond the Brink

Adapting to Climate Change

As humankind faces massive changes in weather patterns, sea level, ocean acidity, and oxygen levels, Scripps Oceanography has launched a new center focused on understanding and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Mark Merrifield, director of the new center explains how the members of this dynamic network will develop strategies for climate change adaptation.

Watch Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations

Creating a World Resilient to Climate Change

Climate change is creating increasingly uncertain futures for people all over the globe. From melting ice caps, to rising sea levels, to wildfires and drought, every community is feeling the impact. We can react to disasters by providing aid and rebuilding, but how can we get out in front of them? Jacqueline McGlade has spent years studying climate change, worked with the United Nations Environment Programme, and is currently a Professor of Resilience and Sustainable Development at the University College London. She discusses how new technology and a growing understanding of the world’s ecosystems can help us adapt. She shares lessons she learned while studying the Inuit of Greenland and living with the Maasai in East Africa and explains how cultures focused on community can thrive in regions most-susceptible to climate change. McGlade argues there are at least seven principles, which if followed, can help build a resilient world.

Watch (Re)active Resilience: How to Thrive in a Changing Climate.

Pathbreaking Environmental Initiatives

Over the past 30 years, arguably the most significant innovation in environmental policy has been the introduction of policy instruments that rely upon market forces to control pollution. You may know it as “cap-and-trade.” This policy debuted in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and has since spread from a focus on acid rain in the US to the development of carbon markets around the world. China is the most recent large emitter to announce a national carbon market.

This talk by Dan Dudek at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara reviews the major innovations of this policy tool, its migration around the world, and prospects for the future.

Dudek joined the Environmental Defense Fund in 1986. He has participated the development of several environmental initiatives including the Montreal Protocol, the US acid rain program, the Kyoto Protocol, and California’s AB-32. He has been an adviser and consultant to numerous governments and organizations. He has served on the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board; US EPA advisory committees; and on two councils that personally advise China’s Premier on environmental issues. He launched EDF’s China Program in 1995 to develop programs for the control of both conventional and greenhouse gas emissions. His work now focuses on India’s air quality problems.

Watch From the Adirondacks to Beijing: One Economist’s Journey.