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Agriculture Goldilocks Zones

Green Pastures

Goldilocks Zones

While humans gathered grains at least 105,000 years ago, farmers only began planting them 11,500 years ago when the climate entered its most stable period.

 

Agriculture spread from places as varied as Mesopotamia, China, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

These early civilizations gathered in regions with hospitable, stable climates. It's no coincidence that people chose to live and farm in the same stable climate regions of the world - Goldilocks Zones, where climate extremes are infrequent and growing conditions are just right.

Zone Characteristics

Nine Goldilocks Zones on five continents encompass 1.87 billion hectares of the world's crop and rangeland and 90% of fisheries. These Zones produce over 90% of the world's grains, livestock, and fish.

Half of the world's population lives in the Asia-Pacific region - a geographic area called the Valeriepieris Circle centered on the South China Sea with a radius of about 2,500 miles that covers about 6.7% of the Earth's surface. The Valeriepieris Circle includes two Goldilocks Zones encompassing China, India, and Southeast Asia. These zones also produce half of the world's consumable carbohydrates and protein.

China, India, the U.S., and Brazil are the world's top agricultural-producing countries. South Asia and Europe are considered the world's agricultural capitals because of the percentage of cropland in their total geographic area. Cultivated land is a leading land use in these regions, accounting for at least a fifth of the land area. Croplands comprise between 60 and 80 percent of Moldova, San Marino, and Hungary (80%), Denmark, Ukraine, Ireland, and Bangladesh (70%); and 60 to 70 percent of the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Lithuania, Poland, Gaza Strip, Czech Republic, Italy and India. For comparison, the United States and China each have 18 percent croplands.

Nearly 80 percent of all human water use worldwide goes towards producing food. Globally, 80% of cultivated land and 60% of crop production relies on rainwater. Only 12% of crop-producing land is equipped for irrigation - from aquifers. The U.S., Mexico, The Middle East, North Africa, India, Pakistan, and China all rely on aquifers. The Arabian Aquifer System, the Indus Basin Aquifer, and the Murzuk-Djado Basin are some of the world's largest aquifers. These three aquifers are the most overstressed in the world. However, the world's aquifers are stressed, and many face depletion levels that could render them unavailable.

Seven zones have conditions that are favorable for precipitation, including proximity to oceans and inland waters that allow for convection precipitation, frontal system trade winds that bring moisture-dense air inland, mountain ranges that push humid air to higher altitudes where it condenses and rains, and ocean currents that increase sea surface temperatures that result in seasonal monsoons in the tropics and subtropics. While there is considerable year-to-year variability in precipitation, they have been remarkable constant for thousands of years. Southern hemisphere zones receive less precipitation (on average), much of which never reaches land, and fewer inland water and mountain topology that result in precipitation.

GOLDILOCKS ZONES.jpg

Risks

Zone Climate Risks

The interrelated effects of heat, precipitation and soil moisture on global Goldilocks Zones

Extreme Temperatures

University of Minnesota says global crops yields must increases by 40% by 2050 to feed a growing population primarily in developing nations. NASA forecasts corn and rice yields will decrease by 24% and 40% respectively during the same period, while wheat yields will rise by 17% due to shifting production toward further North. The European Environment Agency forecasts that under a high-end emission scenario, yields of non-irrigated crops like wheat, corn and sugar beet are projected to decrease in southern Europe by up to 50 % by 2050.

High temperatures can cause a variety of negative effects on crops, including decreased photosynthesis, leaf senescence, decreased pollen production, seed failure, lower grain number and grain weight, root and shoot growth limitation. Extreme heat can also cause oxidative stress, which releases reactive oxygen species (ROS) that harm plant cells and impair their growth. Increased transpiration rates due to high temperatures can also lower the amount of water available to crops, resulting in water stress.

Higher temperatures and increased concentrations of CO2 in the air can also lead to lower levels of nutrients like iron, zinc, and protein in crops. This issue is especially troubling in poor countries where people rely on one or two staple foods for their nutrition.

Precipitation

Climate models indicate that rising temperatures will intensify the Earth's water cycle, making drier regions dryer and wetter regions wetter. This will result in more frequent and intense storms, but will also increase the intensity and duration of drought.

Warmer temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels can speed up plant growth, leading to increased transpiration. However, if temperatures remain high for long periods of time, plants reduce transpiration to conserve water in the plant. This also has an accelerating effect on reduced soil moisture and crop failure.

Increasing ocean and land temperatures can disrupt or stall jet streams, trade winds and critical ocean currents. The effects can range from minor shifts in precipation patterns to a complete breakdown with catastrophic changes of decades long megadroughts

Extreme Temperatures

University of Minnesota says global crops yields must increases by 40% by 2050 to feed a growing population primarily in developing nations. NASA forecasts corn and rice yields will decrease by 24% and 40% respectively during the same period, while wheat yields will rise by 17% due to shifting production toward further North. The European Environment Agency forecasts that under a high-end emission scenario, yields of non-irrigated crops like wheat, corn and sugar beet are projected to decrease in southern Europe by up to 50 % by 2050.

High temperatures can cause a variety of negative effects on crops, including decreased photosynthesis, leaf senescence, decreased pollen production, seed failure, lower grain number and grain weight, root and shoot growth limitation. Extreme heat can also cause oxidative stress, which releases reactive oxygen species (ROS) that harm plant cells and impair their growth. Increased transpiration rates due to high temperatures can also lower the amount of water available to crops, resulting in water stress.

Higher temperatures and increased concentrations of CO2 in the air can also lead to lower levels of nutrients like iron, zinc, and protein in crops. This issue is especially troubling in poor countries where people rely on one or two staple foods for their nutrition.

Precipitation

Climate models indicate that rising temperatures will intensify the Earth's water cycle, making drier regions dryer and wetter regions wetter. This will result in more frequent and intense storms, but will also increase the intensity and duration of drought.

Warmer temperatures and higher carbon dioxide levels can speed up plant growth, leading to increased transpiration. However, if temperatures remain high for long periods of time, plants reduce transpiration to conserve water in the plant. This also has an accelerating effect on reduced soil moisture and crop failure.

Increasing ocean and land temperatures can disrupt or stall jet streams, trade winds and critical ocean currents. The effects can range from minor shifts in precipation patterns to a complete breakdown with catastrophic changes of decades long megadroughts

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