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Forget Climate Change, Worry About Climate Volatility

The United States Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently reported that May 2012 will end as the second warmest spring on record in the United States. If this is the result of global warming, then why does are places like Eastern Washington experiencing record lows? By focusing our attention on global warming and climate change, scientists are missing a far greater threat to the biosphere: climate volatility. Thus, while the biosphere is very good at adapting to directional environmental shifts, it is not well adapted to extreme environmental swings.

For example, an unseasonably cold spring might kill off those plants of a crop which were not genetically adapted to colder weather. If this is followed by an unseasonably hot summer, it may kill off much of the rest of the plants which were adapted to cold weather. Because of genetic tradeoffs, biological organisms are not likely to have simultaneous adaptations to environmental extremes and to produce high yields. Thus and increase in climate volatility, coupled with genetic tradeoffs and shrinking gene pools could put a significant strain on the world's food supply, leading to ever increasing commodity prices, global famine, and war.

Rob Leclerc is a venture capitalist at SeedRock Capital.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Additional disclosure: SeedRock has an agriculture operation in West Africa.