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The Great Greening Of The Global North

The fall crop is in, harvested. But the map of what we grow, where, is changing, with climate change. We’ll look at the new map of North American food production.

In this Aug. 19, 2008 file photo, a combine cuts durum wheat near an oil well in Tioga, N.D. The federal Agriculture Department has revised its estimates of North Dakota wheat production, though the changes are small. The Agriculture Department in late October 2013 re-contacted farmers who still had crop in the field when surveys were done for the annual late-September small grains summary. North Dakota leads the nation in the production of both spring wheat and durum wheat.  (AP)

In this Aug. 19, 2008 file photo, a combine cuts durum wheat near an oil well in Tioga, N.D. The federal Agriculture Department has revised its estimates of North Dakota wheat production, though the changes are small. The Agriculture Department in late October 2013 re-contacted farmers who still had crop in the field when surveys were done for the annual late-September small grains summary. North Dakota leads the nation in the production of both spring wheat and durum wheat. (AP)

Look at a crop map of North America over the years and you’ll see there is a great migration going on in food production.  Crops heading north.  Corn and beans – soybeans – marching north toward the Canadian border and spilling over it into brand new territory.  It’s about plant genetics and farming technique.  It’s also about climate change.  A southern tier turning too hot and dry.  A northern planting season getting longer, more welcoming.  Crop production moving.  How far can it, will it go?  Up next On Point: the new map of North American food production, pushing north with climate change.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Lobell, professor in environmental Earth system science at Stanford University. Director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment. (@DavidBLobell)

Wolfam Schlenker, professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Donn Teske, farmer, president of the Kansas Farmers Union.

Woody Barth, farmer, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: Some crops migrate north with warmer temperatures — “North Dakota is at the leading edge of a shift in North American weather patterns, with more variable weather and rainfall; longer, hotter summers; and warmer winters. USA TODAY visited the state as the seventh stop in its look at how climate change is impacting the way Americans work, live and play. In the town of Rugby, N.D., 50 miles south of the Canadian border, climate change is written in the fields. Where once wheat was king, field after field is now full of feed corn. At the beginning of September, farmers are hustling to get combines out to cut the golden wheat but green fields of corn are everywhere — and still a month from harvest.”

New York Times: A Jolt to Complacency on Food Supply — “This may be the greatest single fear about global warming: that climate change could so destabilize the world’s food system as to lead to rising hunger or even mass starvation. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of a report by the United Nations climate committee, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the group’s concerns have grown, and that the report, scheduled for release in March in Yokohama, Japan, is likely to contain a sharp warning about risks to the food supply.”

Mother Jones: Climate Change Is Already Shrinking Crop Yields — “Of course, we can’t tie any individual heat wave to long-term climate trends—there’s plenty of random weather variation even in times of climate stability. But we do know that hot, dry weather can stunt plant growth and reduce yields—and we also know that we can expect more hot, dry weather in key growing regions as the climate warms up.”

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