The world’s food system and the agricultural industry that supports it could cause global warming as much as all human activity since the Industrial Revolution has caused, new research reveals. .
Earth is already about 1.1 degrees Celsius since before the industrial revolution. It may not seem like much, but it is the main driver of extreme weather and the cascade of other dangerous effects of climate change. As things stand now, greenhouse gas emissions from our food system alone can further warm the planet. This is enough to blow away the global climate targets set under the Paris Agreement, significantly intensify climate disaster.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent that disastrous scenario. Research presentation in my diary today nature climate changeBut we need to rethink how we handle farming, dining and food waste.
We need to rethink how we handle farming, eating and food waste
“Everybody eats,” says Catherine Ivanovich, lead author of the new study and a PhD candidate at Columbia University. Considering the environmental impact of our food is “important in looking to the future in terms of supporting the world’s population while maintaining a secure climate future,” she says.
Ivanovich and her colleagues assessed how much pollution different foods produce and modeled how much each would contribute to global warming by 2100. Temperatures could rise another 0.9 degrees.
Some food groups in particular are responsible for a whopping 75% of that global warming. They are foods that are high sources of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first decades after it is released.
Beef and other ruminant meats, a category that includes four-compartment ungulate mammals such as goats and sheep, top the list as contributing to climate change. Rice and dairy are next, with his remaining two food groups responsible for massive methane emissions.
This is why cows became notorious for gas. When they burp, they release methane. Their fertilizer also releases methane and nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas. But people still make mistakes.World meat consumption is 500 percent Between 1992 and 2016, with population, income growth, and adoption of more Western diets around the world.
Rice is the second food that contributes to global warming after the meat of ruminant animals. Flooded paddy fields are breeding grounds for methane-producing microorganisms. Rice is also a staple food for most people in the world, which is why its environmental impact is so great. However, on a calorie basis, rice and other plant foods have far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than animal foods.
The authors of a new study highlight three big steps we can take to limit greenhouse gas pollution from food — strategies that can cut our global warming potential by more than half.
The most difficult of these tactics is adapting to the climate risks humans face by changing their diets. In this case, the researchers aren’t asking for extremes, or even forcing people to eat vegetarian. Based on those who have found and follow a healthy diet. Endorsed by Harvard Medical SchoolThese recommendations include a protein-rich diet that reduces saturated fat and cholesterol. People who suffer from schizophrenia may eat more meat. And Ivanovich is quick to say that dietary changes should respect cultural traditions.
“There is no silver bullet”
Changing the systems of how food is produced and how waste is handled is equally important. About a third of the world’s food production is lost or wasted, emitting methane in landfills. Reducing food waste is critical in tackling climate change. This can be achieved through relatively simple modifications such as retailers offering products in smaller packages.
There are genetic engineering of rice and more complex efforts to produce cattle feed that reduces methane emissions. These technologies can play a role in limiting climate change, but they must be balanced against other strategies that keep us out of the ‘business as usual’ that put us in climate chaos in the first place.
Brent Kim, Research Program Manager, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, said: I am not participating in any new research. “Technology has an absolute role, but I think it needs to be considered holistically. Climate change is a very serious and urgent problem, and there is no silver bullet.”