, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 181-201
Date: 28 Jul 2014

Adaptation in Canadian Agriculture to Climatic Variability and Change

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The effects of climatic variability and change on Canadian agriculture have become an important research field since the early 1980s. In this paper, we seek to synthesize this research, focusing on agricultural adaptation, a purposeful proactive or reactive response to changes associated with climate, and influenced by many factors. A distinctive feature of methods used in research on adaptation in Canadian agriculture is the focus on the important role of human agency. Many individual farmers perceive they are well adapted to climate, because of their extensive 'technological' tool-kit, giving them confidence in dealing with climatic change. In many regions, little concern is expressed over climatic change, except where there are particular types of climatic vulnerability. Farmers respond to biophysical factors, including climate, as they interact with a complex of human factors. Several of these, notably institutional and political ones, have tended to diminish the farm-level risks stemming from climatic variability and change, but may well increase the long term vulnerability of Canadian agriculture. Notwithstanding the technological and management adaptation measures available to producers, Canadian agriculture remains vulnerable to climatic variability and to climate change.