Future of Food Production Emissions

2016-10-08, 00:01 | Environment
In these days traditional diets are more and more replaced by diets higher in refined sugars, refined fats, oils and meats. Examples of things driving these dietary transitions are rising incomes and urbanization.

If unchecked, these dietary trends would be a major contributor to an estimated 80 percent increase in global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from food production and to global land clearing by the year 2050.

With the facts from my previous blog post in mind (that the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent) this big increase would be devastating.

In contrast, if by 2050 the global diet had become the avarage of the Mediterranean, pescetarian and vegetarian diets, then there would be no net increase in food production emissions.

A conclusion is that a change is needed. More plants, less meet!

References
  • Global diets link environmental sustainability and human health.
    D. Tilman, M. Clark. Nature, Vol 515, 27 November 2014

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Livestock and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

2016-10-05, 23:31 | Environment
It is easy to say that climate change is the most serious challenge that is facing the human race. Just look at the melting glaciers and rising sea levels, rising temperatures, shifting ocean currents and weather patterns, etc. These are all exampels of how the earth is changing towards a more broken world. A major reason for this is emissions of greenhouse gases.

Many people say that the transport sector (road, air, marine, rail etc.) is responsible for the most emissions, and hence we need to use greener fuels to save the earth. This is actually not the case.

The livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is actually a higher share than the whole transportation section together. Big shares of this derives from land-use changes (especially deforestation) caused by expansion of pastures and arable land for feed crops.

Livestock are responsible for much larger shares of some gases with far higher potential to warm the atmosphere, some examples are following. The sector emits 37 percent of anthropogenic methane, which has 23 times the global warming potential than CO2. It also emits 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide that has 296 times the global warming potential than CO2. And it is responsible for 64 percent of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.

The conclusion is that to save the earth, it will not be enough by making the whole transportation sector to use fossil-free vehicles (which also would be extremely expensive and probably take decades). We do also need to stop eating meat (which is totaly free and can be done in a second).

References
  • Livestock's long shadow, environmental issues and options.
    Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations, 2006.

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