Agrarian based Socioeconomic Impacts
of Climate Change and Variability

The impacts of climate change and variability on the agrarian based socioeconomic structure of the Northern Great Plains is especially disconcerting due to suggestions that climate change and variability will have a greater affect on agriculture regions of the world. Extremes in weather have created a agrarian society that is generally aware of and adaptive to these extremes but climate change and variability is not the same as weather extremes. If current climate change models are remotely correct in predicting pole ward movement of agricultural zones, increased temperatures, and decreases in available crop moisture we can expect extensive reworking of the agrarian based socioeconomic structure of our region. What role climate change and variability will have on the Northern Great Plains socioeconomic structure is extremely difficult to model given the lack of consensus on the degree that climate change and variability will have on the general land use of this region.

The underlying principle is uncertainty to the degree and distribution of climate change and variability thus the degree and change to agrarian socioeconomic structure. One thing is certain we will experience short term climate change and variability and this will continue to affect, in subtle ways, the traditional agrarian socioeconomic system we are use to. The need to adapt to natural climatic change and variability is a reality, the ability to adapt to accelerated climatic change and variability due to anthropogenic causes is disconcerting when you consider the lack of precise scientific information . Development of predictive models based on sound scientific data provides the first step in dealing with climatic change and variability, irrespective of its source, natural or man made.

The Northern Great Plains is an area that experiences continental climatic conditions. The very nature of continental climatic conditions suggests patterns of constant and sometimes extreme changes in weather. Long considered the "bread basket" of world due to the predominance of agricultural industry, it is intuitive that changes in climate and greater than normal extremes in variability would affect the socioeconomic structure of this region.

University of North Dakota / School of Aerospace Sciences / Atmospheric Science Department

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