Climate change adaptation in crop production: Beware of illusions
This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security Journal, discusses three main causes of “adaptation illusions”, common ways in which studies misinterpret the adaptation benefits of various changes. Many potential changes in agricultural management and technology, including shifts in crop phenology and improved drought and heat tolerance, would help to improve crop productivity but do not necessarily represent true adaptations. The author argues for the importance of retaining a strict definition of adaptation as an action that reduces negative or enhances positive impacts of climate change. These “adaptation illusions” arise from a combination of faulty logic, model errors, and management assumptions that ignore the tendency for farmers to maximize profits for a given technology. More consistent treatment of adaptation is needed to better inform synthetic assessments of climate change impacts, and to more easily identify innovations in agriculture that are truly more effective in future climates than in current or past ones.