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Editorial (January 2011)

Floods in Queensland have have affected around 200,000 people (© Australian Red Cross)
Floods in Queensland have have affected around 200,000 people
© Australian Red Cross

Could 2010 be the year when climate change really started to bite? Floods killed thousands in Pakistan and China, Russia suffered extensive forest fires amid a record heat wave, and globally 950 natural disasters were recorded, the majority (90 per cent) being weather related events, such as storms and floods.

Sadly, 2011 seems to be continuing the trend. Record snowfalls have struck New York and floods in Queensland have covered an area the size of France and Germany combined, with most climate experts agreeing that global warming will exacerbate such events.

And yet only weeks after the Cancún climate summit talks, it is evident that governments and politicians are failing to address the impact and economic cost of global warming - estimated at US$130 billion for 2010 alone. Whilst some progress was evidently made at Cancún, much more needs to be done before the next climate summit (COP17) in Durban at the end of 2011.

In this edition, we present Points of view from Cancún on agriculture in a changing climate and Via Campesina representative Alberto Gomez Flores offers his own Perspective on the outcome of the talks. Case studies presented in Developments dramatically highlight the effects of a two degree rise in temperature on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Colombia and Ghana. Bangladesh, particularly vulnerable to flooding and rising sea level, is featured in our Country profile.

In the extreme climate of Bolivia's high altitude Lake Titicaca, only the toughest farmers and crops can thrive. (© Neil Palmer (CIAT))
In the extreme climate of Bolivia's high altitude Lake Titicaca, only the toughest farmers and crops can thrive.
© Neil Palmer (CIAT)

On a brighter note, we Focus on the positive impact of sharing knowledge. From radio and drama to social media and translation techniques, we feature innovations that are being used to communicate agricultural information to a broader audience, particularly to the farmers who really need it. Sharing agricultural lessons is also the focus for the recently published Success in African agriculture: lessons for the future reviewed in our Books section. And for a glimpse of how farmers survive and prosper in the extreme climate of Bolivia's high altitude Lake Titicaca, look no further than In pictures.

With news, books and articles on a wide range of topical issues, we trust that you find something new and informative in this edition and that you will help to spread the word and alert colleagues to items of interest. Future editions will focus on youth in agriculture and agricultural entrepreneurship, so if you have stories to share, please submit your ideas to the editorial team.

Finally, returning to the theme of knowledge sharing, it's essential for us to know the impact of our work. We are therefore very keen to learn your views on New Agriculturist and how it contributes to your agricultural knowledge and work in this vital sector. We would be very grateful if you would copy and paste the following link into your browser, and complete the short survey http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/new_agriculturist.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to let us know how you use the information we provide. We wish you a productive and prosperous 2011.

Date published: January 2011

 

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