Food, Agriculture, and Climate Change

 

Food, Agriculture, and Climate Change

Introduction

Food and climate change / global warming are closely connected. If no substantial mitigation of climate change occurs, food disruption will become severe. Conversely, food production affects global warming, in particular livestock. Ethical Eating, biodiversity, adaptation, agriculture, and species extinction are among the topics of this extensive subject.

Food Disruption and Climate Change: Disruption of food supplies, agriculture, and fisheries will occur drastically for many hundreds of millions, conservatively, by 2100 if no substantial mitigation of climate change occurs. Increased rain in the winter and increased evaporation in the summer in addition to pest migration will stress crops. This will lead to bad food shortages, including in the US; see HERE and this NASA VIDEO. Global warming is negatively affecting pollination and bees, said to be responsible for 1/3 of human nutrition. HERE is an article backed by extensive data (explained HERE), showing that fish crucial for the marine food chain are in danger of decreasing by over 50% due to the extension of OMZ (oxygen minimum zones), due to global warming. Global phytoplankton, at the base of the marine food chain, is in decline due to rising sea temperature; see HERE. The earth already has 800 million people that go to bed hungry each night. Global warming will substantially increase this number.

The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) 2013 report Tackling Climate Change through Livestock (A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities) estimated that livestock are responsible for around 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This type of analysis aggregates emissions throughout the livestock commodity chain - from feed production (which includes chemical fertilizer production, deforestation for pasture and feed crops, and pasture degradation), through animal production (including enteric fermentation and nitrous oxide emissions from manure) to the carbon dioxide emitted during processing and transportation of animal products.

Fish are being affected by climate change. For example, a 2016 headline: Salmon starving amid global warming.

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Climate-Smart Agriculture

Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA), as defined and presented by FAO at the Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change in 2010 is an approach to developing the technical, policy and investment conditions to achieve sustainable agricultural development for food security under climate change. It contributes to the achievement of national food security and development goals with three objectives:

  • SUSTAINABLY INCREASE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY & INCOMES
  • ADAPT & BUILD RESILIENCE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
  • REDUCE &/OR REMOVE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS WHERE POSSIBLE

HERE are FAO Success Stories; HERE is the Climate-Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

HERE is a presentation on Climate Smart Agriculture

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HERE is Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network

Mission:

  • Raise awareness on CSA among young men and women (aged 15-24) to enable them to make sustainable decisions for the future in the agriculture sector.

  • Create awareness of the related present and future threats related to climate change and agriculture.

  • Make youth aware of the contributions they can make in the agriculture sector for a better future, especially through the application of climate-smart practices in both agriculture and forestry.

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Eat Smart

Eat Smart is advocacy from the Environmental Working Group for eating less meat and more greens. Here is a useful chart quantifying the potential climate impacts of different foods, from lentils (small carbon footprint) to red meat (big carbon footprint).

A comprehensive EWG methodology paper "Meat Eaters Guide" is HERE. From this document:

"Environmental Working Group (EWG) partnered with CleanMetrics Corp., a Portland, Ore.-based environmental analysis and consulting firm, to carry out “cradle to grave” life cycle assessments (LCAs) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for selected protein-rich foods... This document provides a detailed report on the methodology, assumptions and results of the lifecycle assessments of 20 plant and animal foods commonly consumed in the United States..."
 
Thanks to Rebecca Allen for the reference.

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Agriculture, Ecosystems, Biodiversity and Climate

The IPCC Impacts Report (2007 AR4 Vol II) gives a thorough discussion of the literature; click below to download: Chapter 5: Food, Fibre, and Forest Products

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​Climate change, agriculture and food security

 

The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, represents a new beginning in the global effort to stabilize the climate before it is too late. It recognizes the importance of food security in the international response to climate change, as reflected by many countries focusing prominently on the agriculture sector in their planned contributions to adaptation and mitigation. To help put those plans into action, this report identifies strategies, financing opportunities, and data and information needs. It also describes transformative policies and institutions that can overcome barriers to implementation.

 

 

Links from the FAO

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Crop Resilience / Diversity and Climate Change

Here is a great example: Norway invests $23.7 million in crop diversity to help farmers face climate change

The government of Norway has pledged $23.7 million to conserve and sustainably manage the world's most important food crops’, citing the critical need for crop diversity at a time when populations are soaring and climate change is threatening staples like rice and maize. (24/09/13)

The announcement of the new investment in crop diversity came at the opening of the Fifth session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The meeting has drawn more than 450 participants from governments, science and civil society to Muscat, Oman...

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Biodiverse Agriculture for a Changing Climate

Climate change will bring enormous and unpredictable changes to agriculture which will affect global food supplies and disproportionately impact on the poor. Emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture, largely from intensive systems, contribute significantly to global warming. This paper, a summary of some issues in Understanding Climate Change Adaptation, explores biodiverse agriculture as a realistic and proven alternative to industrial methods of production. Practised by millions of small-scale food producers and organic growers, biodiverse agriculture can limit and adjust to climate change while replenishing the natural resources on which food production depends. Ref HERE.

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Ecosystem-based Adaptation to Climate Change

Ecosystem-based adaptation, which integrates the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall adaptation strategy, can be cost-effective and generate social, economic and cultural co-benefits and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.

Conservation and management strategies that maintain and restore biodiversity can be expected to reduce some of the negative impacts from climate change; however, there are rates and magnitude of climate change for which natural adaptation will become increasingly difficult. Options to increase the adaptive capacity of species and ecosystems in the face of accelerating climate change include:

  • Reducing non-climatic stresses, such as pollution, over-exploitation, habitat loss and fragmentation and invasive alien species.
  • Wider adoption of conservation and sustainable use practices including through the strengthening of protected area networks.
  • Facilitating adaptive management through strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems.

Ecosystem-based adaptation uses biodiversity and ecosystem services in an overall adaptation strategy. It includes the sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to provide services that help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Examples of ecosystem-based adaptation activities include:

  • Coastal defence through the maintenance and/or restoration of mangroves and other coastal wetlands to reduce coastal flooding and coastal erosion.
  • Sustainable management of upland wetlands and floodplains for maintenance of water flow and quality.
  • Conservation and restoration of forests to stabilize land slopes and regulate water flows.
  • Establishment of diverse agroforestry systems to cope with increased risk from changed climatic conditions.
  • Conservation of agrobiodiversity to provide specific gene pools for crop and livestock adaptation to climate change.

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Biodiversity and climate change

There is ample evidence that climate change affects biodiversity. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, climate change is likely to become one of the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss by the end of the century. Climate change is already forcing biodiversity to adapt either through shifting habitat, changing life cycles, or the development of new physical traits.

Biodiversity can support efforts to reduce the negative effects of climate change. Conserved or restored habitats can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to address climate change by storing carbon (for example, reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). Moreover, conserving in-tact ecosystems, such as mangroves, for example, can help reduce the disastrous impacts of climate change such as flooding and storm surges.

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Convention on Biological Diversity

Convention on Biological Diversity

The Earth's biological resources are vital to humanity's economic and social development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today. Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate.

The Convention on Biological Diversity was inspired by the world community's growing commitment to sustainable development. It represents a dramatic step forward in the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

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World Food Day

 

File for download and printing as is.  Cropping or other modifications prohibited.  Contact World-Food-Day@fao.org for more information.

“Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition” was the focus of World Food Day on October 16, 2013.

 

 

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Ethical Eating (UUA)

Delegates at the UUA General Assembly in Charlotte, NC, approved Ethical Eating: Food and Environmental Justice as a 2011 Statement of Conscience:

Ethical Eating UUA Statement 2011

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Resources

 
 
 
 
 

 

Thanks for these resources to: Jack Harkins, Port Charlotte, FL; Jennifer Greene, Bellport, NY; Kathryn Shane, Wolfeboro, NH; Charlie Talbert, Monona, WI

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Other Climate Portal content on Food, Climate, and Sustainability:

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Last edit 22July2017