The physics of rural development: linking climate change to the agricultural sector

According to Newton´s third law of motion “every action on one object is accompanied by a reaction on another, of equal magnitude but opposite direction”.

But I will not speak of physics …

Drawing a parallelism to the environment, ecosystems, production systems and sustainable development of populations it is possible to find the following:

The action

Throughout the centuries, and especially since the era of industrialization, humans have atrociously increased their productive activities rising emission of greenhouse gases, accompanied by a demographic bonus never seen before and incremental pattern of consumerism. This, without neglecting other important factors, has produced today the undeniable existence of climate change.

However from latitude 60th N to latitude 0, from northern border to southern border, from urban to rural populations, from professions to professions, from families with more purchasing power to low-income families, from women to men … climate change is resented differently.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture was one of the first sectors widely recognized to be heavily affected by climate change.

Having seen the action (anthropogenic emssions). What is / will be the expected reaction?

In the environment itself

There are many changes that can be expected. Just to mention a few that are directly related to the agricultural sector:

Overall, they mean the degradation of ecosystems, the increased vulnerability of agricultural land and loss of resilience of the environment.

Higher and more pronounced vulnerability

In relation to the vulnerability of countries compared to the foreseen economic losses in terms of GDP is possible to observe (figure 1) that are precisely the developing countries, many of which depend heavily on agriculture as the main economic engine and means of survival, the most vulnerable and susceptible to economic crises and food security constraints.


Figure 1: Vulnerability measure



The map shows the forecast for 2030, which is even more delicate because not only is predicted that developing countries continue in a similar situation, but it is foreseen that their vulnerability is increased. Also, according to the Climate Vulnerability Monitor on Agriculture from DARA “Climate change is a major risk for food Insecurity, since a number of the world’s food-insecure regions are expected to experience the MOST severe climate shocks” (Lobell et al., 2008).

Welfare disturbance

Estimates of global climate impact

The figures speak for themselves. The irrational increase in capital losses due to the effects felt in the agricultural sector will be a major problem. Yet not monetary terms the more worrisome, but the social effects of it.

To name a few:

It is then that is possible to make the following statements about the agricultural sector:

  1. is one of the most important sectors for human life in terms of providing food security and thus life
  2. is the most affected both intrinsically and extrinsically by climate change and its effects
  3. is the one that will be largely affected in the most vulnerable countries, while increasing simultaneously that same vulnerability
  4. is one of the sectors most dependent on the resilience of ecosystems

Reality is that the effects already being felt. Human behavior and climate change (action) on the environment and specifically the agricultural sector (object) is accompanied by environmental, economic and social nature reactions which will impact in the development of societies.

Equal magnitude but opposite direction?

I think not. The magnitude will be even greater for the losses involved and the direction is also the same, the environment and humans.

It is impossible to change the laws of physics, but in the field of climate change, agriculture and human development not everything is said.

What is needed to break the vicious circle?


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