The potential impacts of global climate change on U.S. agriculture
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My dissertation estimates the economic effects of anthropogenic-induced climate change on U.S. agriculture. The dissertation postulates from the outset that farmers optimally adapt to varying environmental conditions. Thus, land prices can be used to measure the highest value use of the land. Using this assumption, this paper attempts to extend previous research on this subject in three ways. The first goal is to estimate the distributional effects of climate change on U.S. agriculture. Even though many researchers agree that the U.S. agricultural sector is likely to experience a shift of regional comparative advantage in response to changing climate, few studies actually quantify the distributional effects of global warming on U.S. agriculture. The main focus of my dissertation, therefore, is not only to estimate the aggregate impacts of climate change on U.S. agriculture, but also to examine how each region of the United Stated may be affected by changing climate. Second, most researchers believe that the pattern of climate change will be uneven across the North American continent, inducing diverse effects across different regions. Instead of assuming uniform changes in climate variables (e.g., temperature and precipitation), therefore, this research takes into account the possibility of variations in climate change across the 48 contiguous United States. Third, the dissertation accounts for the temporal aspects of anthropogenic-induced climate change. Most impact studies in the past were based on arbitrary climate change scenarios or the equilibrium-doubled CO2 General Circulation Model (GCM) scenarios in projecting the effects of global warming on US agriculture. In order to capture the time-dependent responses of the climate system and their impacts on US agriculture, however, this project uses transient climate change scenarios that allow an examination of the time-path of climate change in each U.S. county. Applying the Ricardian approach proposed by Mendelsohn et al. (1994) in estimating the potential impacts of global warming on U.S. agriculture, my dissertation finds that the U.S. agricultural sector is resilient enough to cope with greenhouse gases-induced climate change. Some regional impacts may be disruptive, however, especially if future climate changes as projected by the Canadian model (CGCM1-TR), in which the Southern Plains (Texas, Okalahoma) is the most vulnerable region.