When you think of global warming, you might envision dramatic scenes like hurricanes and melting glaciers. The truth is that something as commonplace as agriculture is already showing signs of the effects of global warming.
Some studies show that the news of global warming is not all bad for farming, at least not in the short run. While humans have changed many environmental factors by their activities, the short-term effects of these changes often lead to better crops.
Because of global warming, temperatures obviously increase. This has some temporary benefits. For a while, it will simply mean more time for crops to mature because of a longer growing season. This is especially true of regions where the spring and fall were once quite cool.
On the other hand, these higher temperatures can bring problems in other areas. In regions that are already warm, global warming will cause the plants to languish in the heat. Soil evaporation rates will be very high, leaving very dry earth. Add to that, droughts will make both the soil and the air dry and might even lead to the burning of some crops.
Global warming is sure to bring about changes in precipitation. This will lead to changes in the soil moisture. Especially with the severe weather predicted with global warming, the rain will come down hard when it does come. This will lead to more than usual soil erosion. These factors greatly affect agriculture.
Strangely enough, all the extra carbon dioxide in the air that brings about global warming also has a fertilizing effect on crops. This type of fertilization is most helpful for crops such as wheat, soybeans, and rice. CO2 fertilization is a beneficial by-product of global warming.
However, this benefit may all be in vain. When global warming pushes ground-level ozone to higher stages, the carbon dioxide fertilization is voided out by tropospheric ozone. These ozone levels are influenced by both emissions and temperature. The result is that when the climate changes, the ground ozone levels will rise as well.
There have always been many obstacles to farming. Global warming just makes them more intense. Now, it is even more likely that a farmer will face droughts, floods, heatwaves, and hurricanes, to name a few. They will be harder to overcome than ever before, and they will certainly be less rare.
The overall predictions for the US are neither all bad nor all good. Crops are expected to benefit from the effects of global warming in many regions for a while. In some areas, though, crops will suffer because of regional variations.
The Great Plains are now more susceptible to drought, thanks to global warming. However, Canada will probably benefit from the added heat as farming will take a Northward shift.
Right now, and in the near future, global warming does not seem to be a very dangerous situation for North American farmers. There might even be some positive effects. However, in the long run, nothing will be able to mitigate the damage that will be caused by global warming if it is not stopped.