2. The greenhouse effect and primary productivity in european agro-ecosystems.
PUDOC, Wageningen, The Netherlands, ISBN 90-220-1026-0, 1990, Dfl. 40, USD 23
This slim volume of 96 pages contains the proceedings of an international workshop on primary productivity of European agriculture and the greenhouse effect, held at Wageningen in April 1990. The synopses or abstracts of the 24 papers presented cover the results of recent work carried out since the Villach conference held in 1985.
Several contributors discuss the effects of climatic change expected in the future on the basis of increased concentrations of atmospheric CO2 and other gases giving rise to the 'greenhouse effect' with increasing temperatures, greater UV-radiation intensity and associated phenomena.
Geographic distribution of crops is expected to change, making wheat and even maize production possible in hitherto marginal northern areas.
Plant productivity is likely to increase through greater photosynthesis, but other aspects are less reassuring, notably accelerated development of winter cereals and possibly reduced growth periods, enhanced survival of weeds which would help pest and disease organisms to overwinter, increased weed growth due to better seed production and more life cycles, and inadequate mineral supply for increased plant growth. Crop and climate modellers have looked at possible trends, but there is a paucity of primary data and, up till now, inadequate dialogue between different groups of workers.
Several contributors discuss historical aspects and economic consequences of the greenhouse effect. There has been climatic change in the past, as shown for example by the cultivation of wheat in Iceland and of grapes in England and Belgium during the High Middle Ages, and thus a temperature rise limited to 1.5 to 2.0 C by 2050 is not considered disastrous. What is likely to be more important in Western Europe, quite apart from the cost of increased sea defences, is the likely prospect of even greater overproduction of agricultural produce which, in the face of a shrinking and ageing population, will lead to still greater surpluses of food. Future politicians will thus have to determine, how much longer local farmers can be protected and whether marginal land can be retained for agriculture or needs to revert to forest.
Many of these and other aspects were raised at the workshop, and it is valuable to have them recorded.
Abstract by R.H.M. Langer, shortened.
1153 92 - 6/32
Review, book, vegetation, atmosphere, principles, case studies, ecology, weather, soil, ecosystems, microclimate
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