Author

Hannah Ferus

Date of Award

2017

First Advisor

Christopher Coggins

Second Advisor

Tom Coote

Third Advisor

Peter Tiso

Abstract

Through exploring the physical geography and major climate patterns of Kern County California (USA), a mediterranean climate, and Fujian Province (China), in the humid sub-tropics, this thesis examines why and in what manner agriculture developed in these two regions, and how crop cultivars, ergo agriculture, will be affected by climate change from 2017-2100. These locations allow for a comparative discussion as the environmental history, human influences over time, and cultural perceptions of the land and food production are quite different. Chapters one through five cover the following topics: 1) physical geography of both regions, focusing on the weather systems that drive the region's’ precipitation and temperature regimes; 2) agriculture and climate: how plants are influenced at different growth stages by their environment; 3) history of agriculture in Fujian in the context of migrations to the region overtime and the peoples perspectives, or government control, of land and resources; 4) the history of agriculture in Kern County, including the beliefs and practices of the indigenous Southern Valley Yokuts, followed by the land use change, perspectives, and intensive agriculture brought into the region by European-Americans in the 19th century; 5) expected regional changes in precipitation and temperature throughout a year for three time periods (2016-35, 2046-65, and 2081-2100), as well as some broader changes that include related weather systems (referring back to discussions in Ch.1) as discussed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The final chapter assesses how urban and rural agriculture strategies can be developed to be environmentally benign, increase food security for growing populations, and even mitigate climate change. A central argument of the thesis is that a greater understanding of food production systems around the world requires analysis of biophysical, cultural, and historical variables. Reconstructing the history of agriculture is critical to our understanding of the ecological and social dimensions of present-day agro-ecosystems. Furthermore, the way that we construct these histories can act as the language that allows conversation, ideas, policy, and action to take place across age, income, and cultural differences to increase our ability to live with the potential consequences of regionally varied future climate extremes. There is no definitive answer to questions such as ‘which region will be better off,’ but chapters five and six show that future climate scenarios in Kern and Fujian differ in terms of the type and degree of action needed to help ensure sustainable food production. There are many possible solutions to the climate and food production situations we face. My hope is that through this thesis others can understand that there are solutions to the problems we are already beginning to face, strategies that are sustainable on a large scale, which support human populations, and work to promote and protect biodiversity globally.

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