CIESIN Thematic Guides



Welcome to the CIESIN Thematic Guide on Agriculture and Global Environmental Change. The purpose of this guide is to help you locate key documents and data sets that pertain to human dimensions of global environmental change related to agriculture. Although the aim is to provide the most relevant sources and data, this guide offers only an overview of available information.

Agriculture is as ancient as human civilization itself and is the fundamental activity through which humans survive on earth. Especially in developing countries, agriculture is the primary contributor to the nation's economy. Agricultural practices, however, may contribute to global climate change: Arable farming, burning and clearing of forests, wetland rice cultivation, raising of livestock, and use of nitrogenous fertilizer can lead to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Conversely, global climate change could affect agriculture by reducing the amount of land available for cultivation, decreasing crop yields, and threatening food security, especially in the developing countries.

Therefore, systematically documenting and disseminating information related to the impact of agricultural activities on the global climate--and vice versa--are important tasks. Identifying appropriate technological and policy interventions to mitigate global climate change is crucial at the national, regional, and local levels. Considering indigenous environmental knowledge, including human adaptive strategies, is necessary to strengthen technological and policy initiatives.

This guide provides information on five key issues:

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