Drought and extreme weather can destroy crops, putting food supplies in jeopardy. So as climate change makes farming riskier, we may need to change what, where, and how we farm.

Laura Lengnick and Ken Dawson
Lengnick and North Carolina farmer Ken Dawson examine a planting of muscadine grapes.

Lengnick: “Our current food system is fairly geographically specialized. For example, the Pacific states in our country, together produce about seventy to eighty percent of all domestically produced fresh fruits and vegetables in our food supplies. So if the Pacific states experienced some catastrophic climate effect, then that creates a lot of risk for our food system as a whole.”

That’s researcher Laura Lengnick who owns a climate risk management consulting firm. She recommends growing diverse types of food across the country. Then if crops in one region fail, we may get the same products from another area.

And varying what’s grown within a region or farm can also help. Pests, moisture, and temperature changes can affect different crops in different ways. So a bad year for corn could be a good year for something else.

”Adjusting Click To Tweet

So diversification may be key to keeping the world’s food supply stable as the climate changes.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Courtesy of Climate Listening Project.

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...