environment

How food and agriculture contribute to climate change

5 Comments
By Leah Douglas

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© Thomson Reuters 2023.

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The denial of the climate crisis is stupid and suicidal. Our knowledge of physics and system theory tells us that in the wake of the inputs inserted by humans the climate system has become nonlinear and unstable. This system is full of malignant positive feedback loops that push it away from equilibrium. There are no stabilizing mechanisms whatsoever that can keep the climate system in equilibrium. But there is no need to be an expert: The rapid rise in temperature and humidity is visible to the naked eye. The catastrophic loss of our planet and the ultimate extermination of humanity are very near. There may still be a remedy: Getting out from energizing ourselves from carbon, and moving on to a new era of energizing ourselves from the sun's radiation and from heavy nuclei. That is easy to do, and should have been done a long time ago. However, there are powerful social forces that fight vehemently against this simple and obvious cure and against the attempt to salvage the planet and the human race. These enemies of the planet claim that moving to modern transportation based on electricity will ruin our society. These devils do not explain how can the usage of efficient, high performance and enjoyable electric cars ruin our society? And what society will remain when the temperature rises to hundreds of degrees Celsius and all the oceans boil and become steam?

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So what shall they have us eat instead of meat, then? Hint: starts with the letter, "B".

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YGhome3, if climate change is an existential crisis, surely it is worth more than copying and pasting the same comment in every environmental article.

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Activities to support agriculture like deforestation or degrading of peatlands generate 3.5 billion tons CO2 equivalent annually, according to FAO.

I see that the COP28 delegates made a decision, over including land-use within agriculture. And they are going to go with intentional human modifications to the natural landscape for agricultural purposes. But this article, at least, doesn’t explain very well what this is about. Shall we try to shed a little bit more light?

As we have followed along in the discussions over this, we already know that forest and peatland, and forested peatland, are significant Carbon stores, especially the hundred-years-old types. Or reservoirs or pools, if you prefer. But also play a role in Carbon sequestration. So when it is disturbed, either naturally, such as in unintentional wildfires, or intentionally by human removal, it loses Carbon into the atmosphere, plus the ability to store Carbon above or below ground, unless intentional steps are taken to remove atmospheric kind and remediate it by storing it underground at the site.

But back to the why question. It is known that pristine boreal lands that are forested peatlands are subject to wildfire. What happens afterwards can be key, as we know that around 10% of naturally burned lands are subsequently taken by humans for permanent use, be it agriculture or urban expansion.

The discussion you read about represent all loses for cropland as being permanent losses. And much of it will be, although it is capable of restoration (cropland abandonment) to boreal lands, but it will take substantial time to be able to return it to a peatland state, if at all, depending on prevailing conditions.

The discussion also does not largely take into account the ability to use the particular acreage that cropland is abandoned, to use in Carbon capture and storage, both below-ground (mineral sequestration ) and biologic above-ground. The latter can see the introduction of plants and shrubs that are highly effective in capture and storage of Carbon.

The problem these delegates reportedly are having with reclaimed lands for Carbon reservoirs is uncertainty. Which is the uncertainty of modern day life, in that nothing is considered permanent when it comes to prime real estate. So it may again be lost, again, and the stored Carbon will be re-released once again.

The approach being advanced by many, so far, would see almost NO new croplands (or heavily restricted new land approval). AND existing croplands will start to be reclaimed, either as restored boreal lands, or as a human constructed Carbon reclamation sites. And such will be turned into mandatory metrics for the Nations to adopt and comply with, AND they will be required to make such changes in perpetuity, so there will be no back-sliding.

So, cropland that is allowed to exist and continue will have to become MUCH more efficient, towards feeding the hungry masses. OR, the hungry masses will have to make due with something else, yet to be firmly determined and effectively marketed to the public, toward widespread public acceptance.

December 10th is COP28 Food, Agriculture and Water Day, and December 12th is Food and Agrifood Systems Day. If you have opinions, or a viewpoint over a livelihood dependant on these issues, now may be a good time to make them be known.

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