AMS Climate Studies and its Relationship to Research on Social, Behavioral and Economic Aspects of Adaptive Management: Smallholder Farmers Adaptation to Climate: A Conceptual Logic Model

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Jacob O. Oluwoye, Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL
Manuscript (255.2 kB)


The American Meteorological Society (AMS) reported that our nation faces a serious challenge in attracting young people to science and science-related careers (including teaching). This is particularly true for members of groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and is especially acute in the small number of minority college students majoring in the geosciences.

A formidable obstacle in attracting under-served students to the geosciences has been limited opportunity to enroll in introductory-level geosciences courses as reported by AMS. To help address this problem, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) developed an introductory climate science course, AMS Climate Studies, which can be added as a general education course. and also educate those in the built environment ( e.g. agricultural science, planning majors, etc. are expected to take the course.

The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual AMS climate studies framework and its relationship to research on social, behavioral and economic aspects of adaptive climate change management and a logic model of farm household strategies and adapting agriculture to climate change based on review of the existing literature.

The logic model comprises inputs, outputs (Activities and Participation), and outcomes (Short, Medium, Long). It is envisaged that this theoretical model provides a useful tool for all climate change agencies, practioners and researchers in developing more comprehensive small farm household adaptation strategies.

Several recent studies have found that the impact of climate change on U.S. agriculture is likely to be adverse overall, though a northern tier of states will benefit. This finding is challenged by Deschenes and Greenstone, who link annual fluctuations in weather to reported profits and yields in the same year and conclude that the impact of global warming on U.S. agriculture is likely to be either insignificant or mildly beneficial overall.

Growing losses caused by extreme weather events and predictions of increasing frequency of extreme events in the future have brought adaptation to climate change into the center of both the scientific and political agendas. Climate change poses challenges in terms of availability of financial resources, technology, and knowledge. Along with these needs, adaptation practices also face difficulties connected with the perception of risks and adaptation. Some studies have focused on the perception of climate change risks however, there is little known about perception of climate change adaptation among stakeholders. Climate change is associated with a number of risks, such as flooding, heat stress, storms and vector- and rodent-borne diseases. While in most cases, climate change will amplify (mostly already existing) risks, in some cases, beneficial impacts are envisaged (e.g. reduced winter mortality due to higher temperatures. However, the general impression in the scientific community seems to be that, overall, climate change requires the timely development and implementation of adaptation plans. For example, Hurricane Katrina demonstrates how the economic consequences of not been prepared for changing weather patterns may be huge, in particular in densely populated, economic areas. In addition, exante evaluations have shown that planned adaptation to flood risk yields positive benefit-to-cost ratios.

It is therefore, concluded that there is need to educate farmers about climate change and design adaptation strategies that are cognizant of existing local level knowledge and practices on land and water management. There is also the need to avail agricultural research results relevant to smallholder farmers and train them on how to use the results to make informed on-farm investment decisions. AMS Climate Studies will provide students majoring in agriculture with an introductory-level survey of climate sciences and global change issues, thus informing adaptation strategies in their future careers.

Logic model implementation: The specific programs from the logic model can then implemented to address them so as to enhance the farmers' adaptive capacity to the current and future climate changes. The sustainability of adaptation strategies has to be erotized. The adaptation strategies should therefore, be considered in terms of farmers' location, livelihood systems and ecological setting so as to make them socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. There is need to increase smallholder farmers' productive capacity now so that they can improve their asset base which will place them on a strong footing take advantage of climate change and variability when it becomes more serious.