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Crop Yield Changes Induced by Emissions of Individual Climate-Altering Pollutants

August 2016

Drew T. Shindell


Climate change and pollution has proven to be detrimental to agricultural production. This study focuses on the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane on crop yields. Although increased CO2 has created a greening effect on crops it has reduced crop yields by trapping heat that raises global temperatures. Methane, unlike CO2, does not fertilize crops. Instead it traps heat and makes it more difficult for crops to obtain key nutrients. The study shows that to combat decreases in crop yields it is more advantageous to combat methane pollution over CO2.

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Policy Implications

The findings indicate that certain pollutants pose a greater threat to crop yields than others. As the agricultural industry seeks to offset losses, policies focusing on reducing the output of methane and non-CO2 gases would be more worthwhile in the short term. Combating CO2 remains a long-term goal for combating climate change.

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