Herein lies the problem:

Nearly a quarter of all planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions come from food production and croplands.

And, the world population is expected to approach 10 billion people by 2050. With this projected increase in population and shifts to higher-meat diets (apparently global meat and diary consumption is set to increase by nearly 70%, agriculture alone could account for the majority of the emissions budget for limiting global warming below 2°C (3.6°F). This level of agricultural emissions would render the goal of keeping warming below 1.5°C (2.7°F) impossible

And, it is not easy to solve:

Farmers can’t plant much more land, because almost every accessible acre of arable soil is already in use. Nor can the use of fertilizer be increased; it is already being overused everywhere except some parts of Africa, and the runoff is polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans. Irrigation, too, cannot be greatly expanded—most land that can be irrigated already is

In so far as beef currently requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more GHG emissions per gram of edible protein than common plant proteins, such as beans, perhaps we need to shift our crops for livestock feed to plant proteins

And, surely we need to shift the way we raise cattle to become a part of regenerative farming so that they become a part of the solution rather than the problem. 

Cutting waste even by modest amounts would also feed millions in so far as between one-third and a half of the viable crops and food produced from them around the world are wasted, in the developing world usually because of a lack of infrastructure such as refrigerated transport, and in the developed world because of wasteful habits. 

Charles Mann, in a piece he wrote in The Atlantic in 2018, tackled this seemingly insurmountable problem dividing the world into those who would say, “cut back” from those who would say “innovate.” 



Friends of the Earth

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By Nathanael Johnson   Photo: Nathanael Johnson  10/2/18   
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