For Some Of The World, Climate Change Can't Come Soon Enough

While the long-term effects will be devastating for everyone, for many countries in the developing world struggling with drought, the changing environment could mean they can finally feed themselves.

With more than half the U.S. facing moderate or severe drought conditions, and other countries facing unusually warm weather, it’s easy to forget that climate change is not likely to be a uniform phenomenon, globally speaking.

While climate models predict higher temperatures in some places, the same models forecast cooler and wetter weather in others. (Indeed, it’s well past time we stopped using "global warming" as a synonym for climate change, implying as it does a uniform effect).

Climate change could create winners as well as losers, according to researchers who have extrapolated the data. For example, nations that have traditionally struggled with drought conditions could find themselves better able to feed themselves. And vice versa.

A new paper from researchers at Stanford, the World Bank, and Purdue shows how a country like Tanzania, in East Africa, could benefit. East Africa is one of the regions that scientists think could see more temperate conditions. The paper finds that in years where importing countries are experiencing drier conditions, Tanzania could sell more maize—its chief export product—both in Africa and further afield. Tanzania’s export partners, including the U.S. and China, are likely to have "severe dry conditions" in most of the years Tanzania is seeing "non-dry years."

"Tanzania has the potential to substantially increase its maize exports to other countries, and not only when its production is above trend," the authors say. "If global maize production is lower than usual owing to supply shocks in major exporters, Tanzania can export more maize at higher prices, even if it also experiences below-trend production."

However, the country can benefit only if it liberalizes its trade policies, says Noah Diffenbaugh an assistant professor at Stanford’s School of Earth Sciences. Restrictions on imports and exports would reduce its ability to take advantage of surpluses in good years, and its ability to manage shortages in dry ones.

"An export ban reduces the poverty-reducing effect of a high production year," he says. "There are potential opportunities that can be beneficial in the current and future climate, but they do require choice on behalf of policy-makers." Tanzania raised trade barriers in response to the 2008 food shocks, which it has only just lifted. Diffenbaugh says the country should keep borders open going forward, despite the uncertainty likely to result from climate change.

He says the same rule could apply to other countries as well. "We’ll have to see how generalizable the details are, but as a general principle we could hope that [liberalization] would help buffer against shocks and provide opportunities when there are surpluses."

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  • Pronghorn

    The reason "Global Warming" has been replaced by "Climate Change" is that warming is relatively easily measured. That's a bad thing for the alarmists if temperatures fall. "Climate Change" is nice and vague. Any change in the weather...hotter, colder, wetter, drier, can be cited as 'evidence' of climate change.

  • bravo22c

    'While the long-term effects will be devastating for everyone,...'
    Evidence?  None.

    Meanwhile, look at the rant immediately below - full of signs and portents, unsubstantiated assertions - 'we are heading to an average global temperature increase of 4 degrees celsius by mid century.'  Nope.  'Extreme weather.'  Data show no increase in either frequency or intensity of extreme weather event.

    'Hell on earth,' - millenarian cultist ranting.

  • Caliban

    Dear bravo22c,

    Didn't realise you might be unfamiliar with the well established science in this area. It's not very hard to find. The implications of our escalating CO2 emissions are hardly an issue in mainstream climate science. We have already experienced 1.5 degree Celsius increase in the last 200 years according to Richard Muller's recent BEST study (a former climate sceptic who has simply confirmed what climate scientists already knew 10 years ago!). The UK Hadley Centre's estimates are that at BAU we will well exceed 4 degrees Celsius by 2050. Nice graphic outlining different scenarios here: 

    Re the implications:
    New, M., Liverman, D., Schroder, H. and Anderson, K. (2011) 'Four Degrees and Beyond: The Potential for a Global Temperature Increase of Four Degrees and Its Implications', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369(1934): 6-19. http://rsta.royalsocietypublis...

    Richardson, K., Steffen, W., Schellnhuber, H.J., Alcamo, J., Barker, T., Kammen, D.M., Leemans, R., Liverman, D., Munasinghe, M., Osman-Elasha, B., Stern, N. and Wæver, O. (2009) Synthesis Report: Climate Change -- Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions.  Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen. http://climatecongress.ku.dk/p...
    A useful link to the usual climate change denial myths and the relevant peer-reviewed science can be found here: 

    James Hansen and Bill McKibben highlight the climate crisis in recent popular articles:


    So this has nothing to do with 'millenarian cultist ranting' this is mainstream science - you know the stuff we used to rely on? Good luck with your education!

  • Caliban

    'Winners and losers' from climate change - you must be kidding! There is no credible scientific debate on this - we are heading to an average global temperature increase of above 4 degrees Celsius by mid century. What we are seeing now in the US is just a foretaste of what is to come. The scientific projections of extreme weather, ocean acidification and sea level rise are enough to highlight there will be no human 'winners' from the hell on earth we are creating. Do people have any idea of the manifold chaos that awaits us just a few decades down the track? Do you think our puny civilisation can withstand the multiple natural forces we have unleashed? For the business people here think about the implications on your fragile supply chains of multiple extreme weather events (think Katrina, 2010 Russian wildfires, Pakistan floods) across the globe on a regular basis. Think about the geopolitical risk factors of hyper-inflated fuel prices and dwindling water supplies in China, India and Pakistan. Think about a marine food chain that collapses as we continue to mess with basic ocean chemistry, But that's OK - all we need to do is liberalize our trade - wake up people there is no way our economy or civilisation can survive in such a hostile environment.

  • Marco64

    Whoa, take it easy Caliban. The locusts are not swarming the earth just yet. What "hell on earth" have we already created? You're reading (and trusting) way too much alarmist propaganda. There is overwhelming evidence that climate cycles through periods of warming and cooling. Global temperatures have been flat for the past 12 years, and in fact, declining for the past 3. I know this is difficult for you to believe, but the recent warm winter in the eastern U.S. is not indicative of the global temperature trend (
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/la.... Extreme weather events are actually down as well. Hurricane strength and frequency is lower for the second half of the 20th century than the first. F5 tornado activity has also declined. There hasn't been an F5 tornado in the U.S. since May 1999 according the Nat'l Weather Service. Though CO2 has been increasing, temperatures have not kept pace. In addition, a study released last week shows the earth has been absorbing more CO2 than previously thought  (http://www.climatecentral.org/.... The factors affecting the climate are far more varied and complex than we currently understand. Sunspots, orbitational sun wobbles, the AMO and PDO, volcanization, and urbanization seem to play important roles. CO2 is simply one very minor component in the entire equation. The world is not coming to a fiery end. In fact, indications are pointing to a period of cooling 
    (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci..., which even NASA seems to agree with, but they disagree with the reasons (http://tucsoncitizen.com/wryhe.... The point is, there is no consensus on the CO2 theory and the earth appears to be cooling. And if it does, we'll have many more problems with a cooling world than a warming one. 

  • mememine

    Safe to say there isn’t any crisis and the theory was 100%

    Look for yourself; not one single IPCC report mentions any
    “crisis” without a “possible” or “likely”. The end is near............maybe?
    Help my house is on fire.........maybe after 26 years and millions of studies.
    Can you say consultant’s wet dream.

    I need proof before I condemn my own children to the
    greenhouse gas ovens of climate change crisis hell. REAL planet lovers are glad
    any crisis was exaggerated.

    Do you WANT Romney in power? The just keep cursing the voter’s
    kids with CO2 threats of death.