Monday, June 26, 2017

Organic Farming May Not Cut Climate Risk

An organic market in Paris: The planet needs even more far-reaching changes than this. (Image Credit: Sam Nabi, via Wikimedia Commons) Click to Enlarge.
US scientists who have examined the planetary food production menu recommend that, to save the planet, organic farming needs to be backed up by resolute action to persuade humans to skip the hamburgers and try the vegetarian option.

They also recommend that people who opt for the fish diet should choose the line-caught or seine-netted dishes.  That is because the energy demand of dragging a trawl across the seabed imposes higher fuel costs and results in 2.8 times the release of greenhouse gases, compared with other fishery technologies.

And, they say, more “organic” methods of farming do not necessarily reduce the hazards of climate change.  They checked the emissions from grain-fed versus grass-fed beef and came to an unexpected conclusion:  grazing animals delivered more greenhouse emissions. 

And they found that, while organic farming systems used less energy, they offered no real advantage in lower greenhouse gas emissions.  That is because extensive rather than intensive farming demands more soil, with higher levels of taint and pollution in the rivers and lakes, per unit of food produced.

No revelation
None of this should be any great surprise.  Agriculture must feed 7bn people, and to do this already emits somewhere between 25% and 33% of all greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, to drive global warming and put future food supplies at hazard.  Agriculture exploits 40% of the land, and accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawal.

By 2050 farmers will have to feed an estimated 9.7bn on the croplands and pastures available now, because to clear forests for more farms can only accelerate more dangerous climate change.

Researchers have repeatedly argued that a change in attitudes, a change in appetites and a change in farming approaches can save the world and keep the human race decently nourished.  But it will require a new global strategy, and a big shift away from the meat diet.

Read more at Organic Farming May Not Cut Climate Risk

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