Curious Cow Detail - © cleantechnica

Climate Change: Ag Practices Overhaul Urgent!

A new European study reveals that the world needs to overhaul it’s current, modern agricultural production practices to even come close to meeting the minimum 1.5 degree overall global temperature increase by the deadline set in the Paris Accords. And it’s much more than just the cow emissions…

Romaine Harvest - © foodsafetyharvesting.comHuge-scale factory farming operations many other current practices
will have to be modified or trashed if we’re to
fend off even the
worst of Global Warming by the year 2050…

The famous 2o15 Paris Climate Accords are still in effect, even though some countries like the U.S. (under President Donald Trump) have pulled out. And it appears that it’s getting harder and harder for the nations still involved in the effort to reach their master goal of preventing global temperatures from warming by a further 1.5 C.

A new study released earlier this week indicates that the implacable march of Global Warming is continuing, even as Wind and Geothermal energy continue to come online and electric vehicles are begin to bloom across the landscape. Much more will be needed, experts warn, to even come close to stalling, let along reversing the global warming trend.

“Even if energy, transportation, and manufacturing go entirely green, emissions of greenhouse gases from the food system would put the world on track to warm by more than 1.5°C,” an overview of the study in the journal Science warns.

Agricultural sources of greenhouse gas

One of the biggest contributors to the ongoing Warming crisis is Agriculture – which is the other major global challenge; securing the food supply and making it sustainable. In spite of the players’ all-out efforts to change the way food is raised and the forms in which it is presented to the public, the fight to establish an adequate, sustainable world food supply is also losing ground.

What they did

A team led by Michael Clark at the University of Oxford first calculated how much climate-warming gas would be released by human activity between now and the year 2100 if no changes were made. “Carbon dioxide comes from many sources,” the Science precis notes, “such as cutting down tropical forests to make way for fields and pastures, running farm machinery, and manufacture of agrochemicals. Fertilizer also emits nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas. And cows (see photo, top of page) release methane, a powerful warming gas, in their burps and manure.”

On the other side of the scale, the researchers assumed progress in science and technology would continue at their present rates, and that the population increase over the period in question would follow the lines suggested by the current United Nations humanitarian agency estimates.

What they found

Given a complete transition to electric vehicles, geothermally heated buildings, renewable power, and so on, but no change in how food is produced, the situation is still “very frightening,” Clark told Science. The his team’s work suggests, “the food system alone would contribute enough climate-harming gases that the planet would probably warm above the 1.5°C target sometime between 2051 and 2063.”

The takeaway

“For the world to have a chance of preventing significant harm from climate change, the study authors say, all parts of food production need rapid and significant reform—everything from reducing deforestation for new fields to eating less meat.” The Science article states starkly.

Peter Smith, a soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) who was not involved in the work, told Science: “In addition to a complete transition away from fossil fuels in the coming decades, we will also need a dramatic food system transformation.”

My take

Currently, there is little action, or even firm, broad-scale planning, taking place toward to changing the way we grow and process food. In a stance something like U.S. President Donald Trump and his reluctance to recognise, let alone declare war on the COVID-19 pandemic, folks in virtually all developed countries with the power to order change are still siting back, waiting to see if the whole mess just magically goes away, by itself. Every day counts, and I hope somebody with sufficient influence and respect in global political circles makes that point as strongly and dramatically as they can, as possible as soon as possible…

~ Maggie J.