Edited by Ariel Dinar and Robert Mendelsohn
Chapter 17: Climate Change and Technological Innovation in Agriculture: Adaptation through Science
Douglas Gollin INTRODUCTION As global climate change proceeds over the decades ahead, its effects on human welfare will depend crucially on the ability of agricultural science and technology to respond to changes in temperature, rainfall patterns and other dimensions of climate change. Is it possible to develop crops, animal breeds and production systems that respond to the challenges of climate change? Or will the complexity of climate-related problems exceed the capacity of the agricultural research system? Can researchers develop technologies that reduce the costs of adaptation? If so, what are the time constraints on developing the necessary technologies? And what levels of investment might be needed? What will happen to those countries with low research capacity at present? Can the agricultural science responses to climate change be centralized in some vast international project? Or will research capacity need to be developed at much more local scales? The goal of this chapter is to explore the above questions, building on what the literature tells us about the organization and impact of past investments in agricultural science and technology. Much of the chapter is speculative, in the sense that it attempts to sketch out the directions in which the frontiers of agricultural technology might plausibly be expected to move over the next hundred years or more. Given the failures of past efforts to forecast technology, this is an undertaking that is daunting, to say the least. The chapter also focuses on poor countries, where agriculture accounts for far larger shares of employment...
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