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Farming Now Worse For Climate Than Deforestation | Climate Central

Farming Now Worse For Climate Than Deforestation | Climate Central | Sustain Our Earth |
Farming is now the leading source of land-based greenhouse gas pollution as deforestation has slowed.


Efforts such as these to slow deforestation have delivered some of humanity’s few gains in its otherwise lackadaisical battle so far against global warming. A gradual slowdown in chainsawing and bulldozing, particularly in Brazil, helped reduce deforestation’s annual toll on the climate by nearly a quarter between the 1990s and 2010. This new study describes how this trend has seen agriculture overtake deforestation as the leading source of land-based greenhouse gas pollution during the past decade. While United Nations climate negotiations focus heavily on forest protections, the researchers note that delegates to the talks ignore similar opportunities to reform farming. “The decline in deforestation over the past decade or two is a success story,” Rob Jackson, a professor at Stanford University’s earth sciences school, said. He was not involved with the new study. The deforestation slowdown has, “in large part,” he said, been driven by new forestry rules in Brazil, by the U.N.’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program, which funds forest conservation, and similar policies elsewhere.

Via PIRatE Lab
PIRatE Lab's curator insight, February 9, 5:14 AM

The new study, led by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and published in Global Change Biology, quantifies the reductions in climate pollution from the degradation and clearcutting of forests. Clearcutting most often clears space for agriculture, suggesting agriculture’s indirect climate impacts surpass the impacts of deforestation for timber and other commodities. The researchers aim to tally those indirect impacts later this year. This paper was an early step in a larger effort to better understand and report on the climate repercussions of how land is used. “Every year, we’ll have updates,” lead author Francesco Tubiello said.

The study is also a reminder that the burning of fossil fuels remains the main cause of global warming. Burning fuel produces about four times more climate pollution every year than forestry and agriculture combined — a figure that is growing. The research shows that the recent climate-protecting gains in forests are being nearly canceled out by efforts to satisfy the world’s growing appetite — particularly its appetite for meat. Greenhouse gases released by farming, such as methane from livestock and rice paddies, and nitrous oxides from fertilizers and other soil treatments rose 13 percent after 1990, the study concluded. Agricultural climate pollution is mostly caused by livestock. Cows and buffalo are the worst offenders — their ruminating guts and decomposing waste produce a lot of methane. They produce so much methane, and eat so much fertilized feed, that livestock are blamed for two-thirds of agriculture’s climate pollution every year. “We’re seeing an expansion of agricultural lands in some areas because of the growing global population,” Jackson, who is a co-chair of the Global Carbon Project, which studies the global carbon cycle, said. “We’re also seeing intensification of agriculture.”

Although annual climate pollution from deforestation is declining, experts warn that recent gains could quickly be reversed.Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest spiked recently following nearly a decade of declines, for example, as farmers and loggers rushed to exploit loopholes in forest protection laws. Some parts of Central Africa are seeing deforestation in areas where it was not previously a problem. And cutting down trees can reduce moisture levels in a rainforest, which could cause parts of the Amazon to start dying off — even if everybody’s chainsaws simultaneously jammed. The researchers drew on three global datasets to try to hone in on land’s changing contribution to global warming. Such impacts are harder to quantify accurately than are the pollution impacts of burning fuel. Governments invest fewer resources tracking and reporting complex climate indicators for deforestation and agricultural activity than is the case for the energy sector. The paper noted a gulf between global efforts to reduce the climate impacts of deforestation, and the dearth of a global response to the climate impacts of food production. REDD is a major focus of U.N. climate negotiations, but agriculture is barely discussed during the talks….

...Doug Boucher, the director of climate research at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says agriculture’s climate impacts could be reduced without taking food off tables. Reducing the overuse of fertilizers, protecting the organic content of soils by changing farming practices, and keeping rice paddies flooded for fewer weeks every season could all contribute to a climate solution, he said.The biggest opportunities for reforming agriculture’s climate impacts can sometimes be found miles from where any food is grown. Reducing waste where food is sold, prepared, eaten and, in many cases, partly tossed in the trash as uneaten leftovers or unsellable produce, reduces the amount of land, fertilizer and equipment needed to feed everybody. “Shifting consumption toward less beef and more chicken, and reducing waste of meat in particular, are what seem to have the biggest potential,” Boucher said.

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They razed paradise and put up a soybean lot

They razed paradise and put up a soybean lot | Sustain Our Earth |
Brazil's agro powers are excited to be edging closer to soy giant the United States. But environmentalists say there's another reason to be very afraid for the rain forest.

Via PIRatE Lab
PIRatE Lab's curator insight, April 7, 2014 1:10 PM

What a disappointing joke: the wholesale conversion of tropical forest to agriculture is continuing unabated.  The recent declines in deforestation rate are occurring as so much has already been lost.  To allow the relatively successful moratorium to wane will only foster greater destruction with all the familiar victims and impacts.

Colin Jonaon's curator insight, April 7, 2014 3:29 PM

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Vandana Shiva on the Problem with Genetically Modified Seeds

Vandana Shiva on the Problem with Genetically Modified Seeds | Sustain Our Earth |

Bill talks to scientist and philosopher Vandana Shiva, who’s become a rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds. These seeds — considered “intellectual property” by the big companies who own the patents — are globally marketed to monopolize food production and profits. Opponents challenge the safety of genetically modified seeds, claiming they also harm the environment, are more costly, and leave local farmers deep in debt as well as dependent on suppliers. Shiva, who founded a movement in India to promote native seeds, links genetic tinkering to problems in our ecology, economy, and humanity, and sees this as the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth.


Vandana Shiva describes the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth.

Via PIRatE Lab
PIRatE Lab's curator insight, February 13, 2014 1:40 PM

Vandana Shiva describes the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth.

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Data Farming: Demonstrating the Benefits of Urban Agriculture [INFOGRAPHIC]

Data Farming: Demonstrating the Benefits of Urban Agriculture [INFOGRAPHIC] | Sustain Our Earth |

Design Trust put together a metrics framework that measured the associated activities of urban agriculture with the known benefits derived from various studies to convince city officials of urban farming's positive impact.


Transforming underutilized land into productive urban farms was one of the many topics which were presented at the recent Kansas City Design Week.  Jerome Chou, past Director of Programs at the Design Trust for Public Space, presented his unique experience with the implementation of the Five Boroughs Farm in New York City and the impact that urban agriculture can have on low-income areas of a city.

Chou pointed out that having the land available for an urban farm is only half of the battle. The other half involves changing local zoning laws, influencing political opinion, garnering economic support, and proving the project will have a net benefit to a community...

Via Lauren Moss, landscape architecture &sustainability
Marcus Taylor's curator insight, August 4, 2013 3:40 AM

Urban Agriculture faces a myriad of challenges to enter the mainstream of urban development in the pursuit of "SmartCities" Worth a browse.

Daniel Moura's curator insight, January 23, 4:22 AM
Many cities (like NYC) are leaving old prejudices behind and are converting green areas and unused land to urban agriculture. Improving food security and resilience, reduce city's ecological footprint, supporting pollinators, increasing biodiversity and building sense of community are just a few examples of the benefits it provides
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The Future of Food at CGI 2012

The sustainability of the global food system - an issue of global, multisectoral proportions that engages individual responsibility - was discussed yesterday by a diverse panel of policy makers, business and NGO leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative...

"Rethinking agriculture with sustainability in mind

One of the important questions about the sustainability of the food system is linked to the emergence of a global middle classes. There are inherent tensions between the growing demand for protein and energy and the degradation of ecosystems. Clay spoke about the need to invest in crops that have a low impact on the soil and the environment. According to him, one of the central questions of agricultural sustainability is “which crops produce more calories by acre of land, by liter of water?”Adesina spoke about how sees seafood as a key alternative to traditional protein sources, because it has less environmental implications than other forms of protein. “Our view”, he explained, “is that it’s going to take protected wild fisheries and agriculture to deal with this. We are very aware of the need to partner with organizations to make sure we protect fisheries, and to make sure we take full advantage of agriculture and its potential.” He further noted that governments must also sett standards, monitor closely, and have the ability to sanction.

Via Arno Neumann
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The world is closer to a food crisis than most people realise

The world is closer to a food crisis than most people realise | Sustain Our Earth |
Lester R.Brown: Unless we move quickly to adopt new population, energy, and water policies, the goal of eradicating hunger will remain just that...


Another warning but no one is listening until it is too late and then we will get the "free" rock concerts again.

Via Willy De Backer
Eli Levine's curator insight, March 11, 2014 1:29 PM

This should be truly terrifying to thsoe who hold political and social power at our present juncture.


Yet what are they doing to mitigate the problems of these impending crises, other than to prepare civilization for marshal law?  How are they actually helping others (and themselves) through the constant resorting to the jack-boot?


Not very enlightened.


Not every inspired.

Not very original.


Think abouti it.

Rescooped by SustainOurEarth from Energy Science!

Pyrolysis Biofuel Production Process Simplified

Pyrolysis Biofuel Production Process Simplified | Sustain Our Earth |

Innovations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are bringing researchers one step closer to developing “green” biofuel production systems farmers can use to meet on-farm energy needs, or to produce renewable fuels for commercial markets.

Via The Daily Fusion
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77% of Americans Say Sustainability Factors Into Food-Purchasing Decisions

77% of Americans Say Sustainability Factors Into Food-Purchasing Decisions | Sustain Our Earth |
New research released Thursday reveals Americans are willing to sacrifice variety and dollars in order to eat more consciously. Although family satisfaction reigns supreme (97 percent), health and nutrition (93 percent) and sustainability (77 percent) are now also important factors when deciding which foods to buy, according to the 2014 Cone Communications Food Issues Trend Tracker.

Via Acquisti & Sostenibilità not-for-profit, PIRatE Lab
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Rethinking Agriculture

"Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities."

Via Jocelyn Stoller
Steven Flis's curator insight, December 17, 2013 5:56 AM

with the increasing numbers of urban citizens in years to come the key to success in the city will be its ability to adapted to its growing enviroment. It would be nearly impossible for cities to exsit in the future with the current ways of agriculuture, there needs to be a change in the way things are done. Thats why this next gen way of agriculuture is going to take off in urban areas. with the ability to have full farms on rooftops the city will be able to self sustain itself more properly than it does in current times.

Jacqueline Landry's curator insight, December 17, 2013 6:40 PM

For the past three years I have had the luxury of having a garden in my backyard, it is a lot of work but there is nothing better than knowing where my food is coming from. I enjoy going in my backyard and being able to grab vegetables whenever I need them. I also go to farmers markets for vegetables that I don't grow in my own garden.  I would defeniately support local people to get good quality food. 

Lauren Shigemasa's curator insight, January 23, 2014 1:28 AM

a powerful way to increase access to healthy foods! this organization called Growing Power is using urban gardening not only to create a sustainable food source for its neighbors, but also provides a system so we can donate and send a week's worth of fresh fruit/vegetables to any surrounding community in need. so amazing!

Rescooped by SustainOurEarth from Cultural Geography!

Monsanto threatens to sue the entire state of Vermont

Monsanto threatens to sue the entire state of Vermont | Sustain Our Earth |
Lawmakers in Vermont are looking to regulate food labels so customers can know which products are made from genetically modified crops, but agricultural giants Monsanto say they will sue if the state follows through.

Via Seth Dixon
Ana Cristina Gil's curator insight, November 6, 2013 6:40 PM

I don’t think that there is a specific reason on why  Vermont is the first state to make some headway in producing this type of legislation, Vermont used to pride themselves on being one of the states with a large numbers of organic farms. And with a company like Monsanto whom use GMO on their product, it doesn’t go well with Vermont image. I do think that other states will follow suit because using Genetically Modified Organisms(GMO) and Genetically Engineered (GE) affect our help and Vermont cannot fight this big corporation by themselves. I feel that even though requiring labels on products that contain GMO is a good thing for us the consumers to know Exactly  what we are giving to ur family. I do think that is going to be a bad impact. because this big corporations like Monsanto is a good source of employment for the states. If they feel that the can make their product, they are going to take their business else where.

Blake Welborn's curator insight, February 27, 2014 11:30 AM

If monsanto can win a course a battle saying they don't have to represent their GMO's on products, then they will be able to win in other places which will further murk up the waters of GMO presentation.

Obed Hernandez's curator insight, February 18, 5:34 PM


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How Big a Backyard Would You Need to Live Off the Land?

How Big a Backyard Would You Need to Live Off the Land? | Sustain Our Earth |

Tags: infographic, food, agriculture, sustainability, urban, urban ecology, locavore, land use, unit 5 agriculture, unit 7 cities.

Via Seth Dixon, PIRatE Lab
Crissy Borton's comment, September 11, 2012 8:36 PM
Looking at purchasing a house in the next year or so and this is one thing we have been looking at. Although we don't want to raise our own meat we would like to grow everything else we eat.
Courtney Holbert's curator insight, February 3, 2013 10:44 PM

Good visual representation of what it would take to be self sufficient.

Chris Scott's curator insight, July 14, 2013 9:51 AM

If you need a backyard that is about 2 acres to live off the land imagine how big of a backyard you would need if you had a family of 8.