|Daily Yonder map; click on the image to enlarge it.|
"For portions of rural America with an economy based on agriculture, climate scientists are most worried about shifting geographic suitability of particular crops and abnormal timing for planting and harvest. These changes may result in additional use of herbicides and pesticides, which could create additional health risks from chemical applications," Bryce Oates writes for The Daily Yonder. "Crop and pasture yields and profitability could also be affected by changes in rainfall, temperature and extreme weather events. Increased flooding could increase soil erosion and water pollution from agricultural runoff, according to the report."
The report's authors predict that likely changes in climate patterns will make agricultural commodity markets more volatile, "shift plant and animal ranges, increase the number and intensity of droughts and floods, and increase the number and size of wildfires throughout the rural landscape," Oates reports. Coastal erosion and rising sea levels could flood low-lying areas and disrupt wildlife-centered activities like hunting and fishing. Decreasing snowpack would hurt areas that rely on winter sports like skiing. Increasing forest pests and diseases could decrease timber harvests. And wildfires are predicted to become more frequent, intense and expensive.
The report predicts that adapting to these changes will be more difficult for rural populations, which tend to be older, poorer, and less educated, Oates reports.