Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Woods Institute for the Environment Center on Food Security and the Environment Stanford University


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Climate trend and global crop production since 1980

Policy Brief

David Lobell - Stanford University
Wolfram Schlenker - Columbia University
Justin Costa-Roberts - Stanford University

May 2011

One way of understanding how climate change is likely to affect global food production and food security is to better understand the recent past. That is, how have changes al-ready influenced agricultural activities and production? For example, considerable debate has taken place on whether future impacts in agriculture will be driven mainly by rising temperatures, or if instead precipitation changes are the main concern. The answer to this would influence strategies to adapt, such as investing in heat tolerance versus waiting for better rainfall projections. To inform questions such as these, we analyzed historical weather and crop data throughout the world over the past 30 years. From this anal-ysis, we draw several conclusions that are relevant to policy makers.