Modern agriculture, food production and distribution are major contributors of greenhouse gases: Agriculture is directly responsible for 14 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions, and broader rural land use decisions have an even larger impact. Deforestation currently accounts for an additional 18 per cent of emissions.
The way we produce food, just like the way we manage forests, has a big impact on the capacity of the land to not only adapt, but to mitigate climate change. While industrial agriculture spews greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere, at the rate of 3,700 pounds of CO2 per year per acre, organic agriculture, through natural photosynthesis, actually can sequester carbon matter into the soil. So an acre of land, farmed using organic methods that include composting and cover crops, can naturally sequester up to 7,000 pounds of CO2 back into the earth per year, according to research carried out by the Rodale Institute and others.
Factory farming is inherently inefficient. It requires enormous amounts of pesticides and fossil fuel-based fertilizers to grow grain, most of it genetically engineered corn and soy, to feed just cattle alone. More than 80 percent of the grain grown in the U.S. goes to feed animals crammed in factory farms. What do we get in return? For every 100 food calories of edible crops fed to livestock, we get back just 30 calories in the form of meat and dairy – a 70 percent loss.
Carbon ranching, or simply grazing animals on perennial pastures, also increases the organic content of soil. If the world’s 8.3 billion acres of pasture and rangelands were transitioned to carbon ranches, they would be able to sequester anywhere from 1,000-7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per acre per year.
Regenerative agriculture is a sub-sector practice of organic farming designed to build soil health or to regenerate unhealthy soils. The practices associated with regenerative agriculture are those identified with other approaches to organic farming, including maintaining a high percentage of organic matter in soils, minimum tillage, biodiversity, composting, mulching, crop rotation, cover crops, and green manures. Bibligraphy.
Foremost among best practices in regenerative farming are zero-tolerance for synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and other inputs that disrupt soil life. On the other hand, conservation tillage, while not yet widely used in organic systems, is viewed as a regenerative organic practice integral to soil-carbon sequestration.[
Reducing Meat Consumption
The technology we need to cut greenhouse gases 50 percent or more is right at the end of our forks. Climate scientist Dr. James Hansen told an interviewer that one of the best climate-friendly actions an individual can take is to stop eating meat. Climate activist Bill McKibben writes in his article, The Only Way to Have a Cow, “We should simply stop eating factory-farmed meat, and the effects on climate change would be but one of the many benefits.”
Meat production is one of the main drivers of environmental degradation globally, and the crisis is rapidly growing worse. That’s why the Center for Biological Diversity launched its Earth-friendly Diet campaign.
OCA on Factory Farms. nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed
into factory farms. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions.
Indirectly, factory farms contribute to climate disruption by their impact on deforestation and draining of wetlands, and because of the nitrous oxide emissions from huge amounts of pesticides used to grow the genetically engineered corn and soy fed to animals raised in CAFOs. Nitrous oxide pollution is even worse than methane—200 times more damaging per ton than CO2.
For some NY info, Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Climate
PRINCIPLES FOR FOOD SECURITY IN TIMES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
This manifesto is an agro-ecological response to challenge posed by climate change for ensuring the future of food security by mitigation, adaptation and equity, based on the following principles:
- Industrial Globalised Agriculture Contributes to and is Vulnerable to Climate Change.
Industrial agriculture, based on chemicals, fossil fuels, and globalized food systems enabled by energy intensive and long distant transport, has a negative impact on climate. Industrial agriculture presently contributes at least one- quarter of current greenhouse gas emissions. This dominant system, as promoted by the current economic paradigm, has accelerated climate instability and increased food insecurity. It also increases vulnerability because it is based on uniformity and monocultures, on centralized distribution systems, and dependance on intensive energy and water inputs.
- Ecological and Organic Farming Contributes to Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change.
Agriculture is the only human activity based on photosyntesis and has a potential to be fully renewable. Ecological and organic farming mitigates climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration in plants and soil. Multifunctional, biodiverse farming systems and localised diversified food systems are essential for ensuring food security in an era of climate change. A rapid global transition to such systems is an imperative both for mitigating climate change and for ensuring food security.
- Transition to Local, Sustainable Food Systems Benefit the Environment and public Health.
Economic globalization has led to a nutritional transition away from local, diverse, seasonal diets to industrially processed synthetic foods, which are leading to new food-related diseases and ill health. Economic globalization policies increase the burden on the environment through resource and energy intensive consumption patterns. Localization, diversification, and seasonality are important for improving human well being, health, and nutrition.
A transition to local systems throughout the world will reduce food miles by shortening transport chains and reduce the “energy backpack” of food in terms of packaging, refrigeration, storage, and processing.
- Biodiversity Reduces Vulnerability and Increases Resilience.
Biodiversity is the basis of food security. Biodiversity is also the basis for ecological and organic farming because it provides alternatives to fossil fuel and chemical inputs. It also increases resilience to climate change by returning more carbon to the soil, improving the soil’s ability to withstand drought, floods, and erosion. Biodiversity is the only natural insurance for society’s future adaptation and evolution. Increasing genetic and cultural diversity in food systems, and maintaining this biodiversity in the commons are vital adaptation strategies responding to challenges of climate change.
- Genetically Modified Seeds and Breeds: a False Solution and Dangerous Diversion
Genetically modified crops are a false solution and a dangerous diversion from our task of mitigating climate change, running counter to providing sustainable food and energy and to conserving resources. GM food, fibre, and fuels aggravate all the shortcomings of industrial monoculture crops: more genetic uniformity and hence less resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses; and more demand for water and pesticides. They have been created on the basis of a discredited and obsolete genetic determinist paradigm and thus carry extra risks to health and the environment. They also lead to patent monopolies which not only undermine farmers’ rights but also impede the dedication of research on biodiversity for adaptation to climate change.
- Industrial Agrofuels: A False Solution and New Threat to Food Security
Food is the most basic of human needs and sustainable agriculture must be based on food first policies. Industrial agrofuels are non-sustainable and spread genetically modified organisms by stealth. Agrofuel plantations are aggravating the problem of climate change by destroying and replacing rain forests with soy, palm oil, and sugar cane plantations. This has led to an unparalleled land grab of indigenous and rural communities.
Industrial agrofuels are responsible for perverse subsidies to non-sustainable agriculture which threaten the food rights of billions of people. To make matters worse, food prices are increasing due to the rapid conversion from growing food crops to growing agrofuels.
Sustainable energy policies require decentralization combined with a general decrease in energy consumption, while maintaining food security as an overarching objective of food and agriculture systems.
- Water Conservation is Central to Sustainable Agriculture
Industrial agriculture has led to intensive water use and increased water pollution, reducing availability of fresh water. Drought and water scarcity in large parts of the world will increase due to changes in climate. Reducing intensive water use in agriculture is a vital adaptation strategy. Ecological and organic farming reduces demands for intensive irrigation while enhancing soil capacity for retention of water while improving water quality.
- Knowledge Transition for Climate Adaptation
Climate change is the ultimate test for our collective intelligence as humanity. Industrial agriculture has destroyed vital aspects of knowledge of local ecosystems and agricultural technologies which are necessary for making a transition to a post-industrial, fossil fuel-free food system. The diversity of cultures and of knowledge systems required for adapting to climate change need recognition and enhancing through public policy and investment. A new partnership between science and traditional knowledge will strengthen both knowledge systems and enhance our capacity to respond.
- Economic Transition Toward a Sustainable and Equitable Food Future
Current economic and trade regimes have played a major role in creating perverse incentives that increase carbon emissions, accelerating climate change. The growth paradigm based on limitless consumption and false economic indicators such as gross national product (GNP) are pushing countries and communities toward increasing vulnerability and instability. Trade rules and economic systems should support the principle of subsidiarity – that is favouring local economies and local food systems which reduce our carbon footprint while increasing democratic participation and the quality of life.