National Geographic : 2015 Nov
ART: ROMUALDO FAURA. SOURCES: MICHAEL SIVAK; CGIAR; MAX MORITZ, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY; U.S . NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT; MATTHEOS SANTAMOURIS, UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS; USDA TAMING THE FLAMES “Fire-adapted communities” could dot at-risk landscapes. Ringed by fuel breaks where flammable vegetation has been removed, these protected enclaves—populated by citizens educated in fire safety—help safeguard home and health. Wildfires are pre- dicted to rise more than 60 percent in some medium and higher latitudes. HEAT HUSBANDRY Although adjustments will vary by region, more farmers will switch to raising heat-tolerant livestock. That means more sheep, pigs, and goats replacing beef cattle and chickens. Yields of crops like soybeans could increase as carbon dioxide levels rise, but many crops will be at risk from drought and extreme weather. Californians will endure an average of 40 to 53 extreme heat days by 2050, and 40 to 99 days by 2099. The historical average is four a year. India’s potential demand for cooling is 14 times as great as the U.S. demand. Year-round benefit: Evergreens planted on the north side of buildings block winds, lower heating bills. Jersey cows have smaller declines in milk production when exposed to heat stress than Holsteins. Shade, fans, and sprinklers also help production. Heat- and drought-tolerant seeds may help plants reproduce and survive despite extreme weather. Researchers are exploring ways to breed livestock like chickens, turkeys, and pigs to better withstand heat. Diversifying livestock and crops increases farmers’ income opportunities while lowering their risk.