Earth Day 2022 is focused on accelerating solutions to address one of the most pressing issues facing the planet--climate change. A changing climate causes problems for all life on Earth. Although natural fluctuations in climate have always existed.
Rapid and dramatic shifts in climate caused by human emission of greenhouse gas have severe consequences such as:
- Droughts, floods, and unpredictable rain patterns
- Increased temperatures and more frequent heat waves
- Higher sea levels and increased water temperatures
These impacts threaten agriculture, forestry and rangeland systems. Decreased rainfall, increased pest and disease, and increased temperatures reduce the productivity of farms, rangeland, and forests, which affect food supply and raise prices. Temperature extremes and drought are recorded nearly every year, which stress crop and livestock systems and make them more susceptible to pest and diseases.
Devastating wildfires are occurring more frequently and with greater intensity. Communities are challenged to maintain adequate and safe food systems while climate change threatens existing supply chains.
To address these climate change challenges, individuals, families, and communities need the best available science to plan for and implement climate-smart and resilient practices. Adoption of adaptive practices and mitigation of agricultural greenhouse gases are both critical to facing climate change.
At USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), NIFA-funded adaptation science aims to reduce the impact of climate variability on agriculture and forest ecosystems. Climate adaptation science provides producers and managers the best available science to support decision-making to maintain economic viability and sustainability.
NIFA-funded mitigation science is directed at reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, rangeland, and forestry systems. Mitigation practices can include sequestering carbon as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By optimizing greenhouse gas sequestration on the nation’s working lands, producers may benefit from improved soil health, water quality, and revenue from burgeoning ecosystem service markets.
NIFA’s long-term goals include:
- Developing new varieties of plants and animals that can adapt to climate change.
- Removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by natural processes.
- Identifying new management strategies for agriculture, rangeland, and forestry to adapt to climate change.
- Increasing the sustainable use of natural resources.
- Improving energy and natural resource conservation.