Climate change impacts on US agriculture and forestry: benefits of global climate stabilization
Beach, R., Cai, Y., Thomson, A., Zhang, X. S., Jones, R., McCarl, B. A., ... Boehlert, B. (2015). Climate change impacts on US agriculture and forestry: benefits of global climate stabilization. Environmental Research Letters, 10(9), 095004_1-095004_17. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/10/9/095004
Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, higher temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and other climate change impacts have already begun to affect US agriculture and forestry, with impacts expected to become more substantial in the future. There have been numerous studies of climate change impacts on agriculture or forestry, but relatively little research examining the long-term net impacts of a stabilization scenario relative to a case with unabated climate change. We provide an analysis of the potential benefits of global climate change mitigation for US agriculture and forestry through 2100, accounting for landowner decisions regarding land use, crop mix, and management practices. The analytic approach involves a combination of climate models, a crop process model (EPIC), a dynamic vegetation model used for forests (MC1), and an economic model of the US forestry and agricultural sector (FASOM-GHG). We find substantial impacts on productivity, commodity markets, and consumer and producer welfare for the stabilization scenario relative to unabated climate change, though the magnitude and direction of impacts vary across regions and commodities. Although there is variability in welfare impacts across climate simulations, we find positive net benefits from stabilization in all cases, with cumulative impacts ranging from $32.7 billion to $54.5 billion over the period 2015-2100. Our estimates contribute to the literature on potential benefits of GHG mitigation and can help inform policy decisions weighing alternative mitigation and adaptation actions.