Spotlight on Agriculture and Climate Change: Blog Action Day 2009

Climate change and agriculture are vitally linked, as each has profound implications for the other. This year’s Blog Action Day, with its focus on climate change, is the perfect opportunity to remind everyone in the development and environmental fields about this relationship, to help ensure that poor people are not adversely affected by climate change. A majority of the working population in developing countries relies on agriculture for income, but agriculture is the sector most vulnerable to climate change due to its sensitivity to shifts in temperature and precipitation. Small farmers, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet, require assistance adapting to climate change in order to protect their livelihoods as well as ensure sustainable crop production to feed a world of 9 billion by 2050. Furthermore, because agriculture is a large contributor of greenhouse gases, farmers need to develop mitigation strategies, hand-in-hand with adaptation, which can help limit the release of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. These actions will of course require dedicated funding from the developed world, as well as developing country governments, and this financing must be part of the international climate change negotiations that will conclude in December in Copenhagen.

Read more about IFPRI’s work on agriculture and climate change:
Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation
Agriculture and Climate Change: An Agenda for Negotiation in Copenhagen (set of 13 briefs)
Climate Change home

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how to stop 51% of ghg emissions

In the run up to the Copenhagen climate change conference, it is vital the following information be disseminated to the public as well as to our political leaders.

A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to livestock….however recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change” in the latest issue of World Watch magazine found that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions!

The main sources of GHGs from animal agriculture are: (1) Deforestation of the rainforests to grow feed for livestock. (2) Methane from manure waste. – Methane is 72 times more potent as a global warming gas than CO2 (3) Refrigeration and transport of meat around the world. (4) Raising, processing and slaughtering of the animal.

Meat production also uses a massive amount of water and other resources which would be better used to feed the world’s hungry and provide water to those in need.

Based on their research, Goodland and Anhang conclude that replacing livestock products with soy-based and other alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. They say “This approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations-and thus on the rate the climate is warming-than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

The fact is that we are being informed of the dangerous path we are on by depending greatly on animal flesh for human consumption. We still have the opportunity to make the most effective steps in saving ourselves and this planet. By simply choosing a plant based diet we can reduce our carbon foot print by a huge amount.

We are gambling with our lives and with those of our future generations to come. It’s madness to know we are fully aware of the possible consequences but yet are failing to act.

Promoting a plant based diet to the public is would be the most effective way to curb deforestation, we hope this will be adopted as a significant measure to save the rainforests and protect the delicate ecology.

Thank you for your consideration.