Two countries — Canada and Russia — account for more than half of new global agricultural frontiers, according to a study published by the Public Library of Science, a non-profit publisher.
“Agriculture has been limited by climate but we’ll see a huge expansion over the next century,” says Lee Hannah, lead author of the paper and a senior researcher at the environmental NGO Conservation International. “Agriculture is going to be shifting across the face of the world . . . The big change is expansion in Russia and Canada.”
Growing crops in these areas will increase global food production, important given that some experts calculate that the world will need 70 per cent more by 2050 to feed a population expected to increase by 2bn over the next 30 years. But, Hannah warns, it could also unleash a “climate bomb” with the release of additional greenhouse gases from the previously untouched peaty soil. The impact on water and biodiversity will also be devastating, he adds.
Hannah, who has been researching the climate change impact on crops such as coffee and wine as well as bees, which are crucial to agriculture, says the emissions impact will come down to Russia and Canada. “You only have to get policies right in two places. Stop seeing these northern areas as wastelands that need to be subsidised to be developed,” he says.
50-year predictions are guesses at best. However, the trend of farmers migrating in Russia to newly improved growing climates and the fact that champagne grapes grow well in the south of England point to significant changes that will necessitate significant investment in new agricultural transportation infrastructure.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top