Chapter 8: Impacts of Climate Change on Agricultural Productivity: A Comparison of Africa and the Rest of the World
8. ______________________________________________________ 8.1 INTRODUCTION Climate change is one of the greatest threats confronting the future of humankind. After years of research on this issue, a number of robust conclusions have now been reached. Firstly, it has b e e n firmly established that the Earth is undergoing rapid changes due to significant increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs). For example, global GHG emissions have roughly doubled since the early 1970s and on current policies could rise by over 70% during 2008–50. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by nearly 100 ppm (parts per million) compared to pre-industrial levels, reaching 379 ppm in 2005, and the Earth has warmed by 0.7°C since 1900 (Brohan et al., 2006; IPCC, 2007). Secondly, human activities, particularly burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, have been identified as prime causes of the changes observed in the 20th century and are likely to contribute to further changes in the 21st century (IPCC, 2001). Thirdly, these atmospheric changes are highly likely to alter temperatures, rainfall patterns, sea level, extreme events and other aspects of climate. Climate change became an international issue in the late 1980s with the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed by 155 countries at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Rio Earth Summit) in 1992. More than 50 nations ratified...
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