At every stage, food provisioning releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Farming in particular releases significant amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, two powerful greenhouse gases.Jun 30, 2015
Is agriculture the leading cause of global warming?
The Problem A new report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which examines how land use changes have contributed to the warming of Earth’s atmosphere, has concluded that agriculture and forestry have contributed nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
How much does agriculture contribute to global warming?
Right now, agriculture generates an estimated 25% of annual greenhouse gas emissions, according to the WRI; that’s when you combine food production and the land-use changes associated with farming, such as clearing vegetation and plowing.
Why is agriculture bad for climate change?
Dominant sources of agricultural greenhouse gases (GHGs) include carbon dioxide (CO2) from tropical deforestation, methane (CH4) from livestock and rice production, and nitrous oxide (N2O) from fertilizing or burning croplands. Agriculture is responsible for about half of global methane emissions.
How is agriculture bad for the environment?
Agriculture is the leading source of pollution in many countries. Pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic farm chemicals can poison fresh water, marine ecosystems, air and soil. They also can remain in the environment for generations.
Carbon Sequestration in Soils
Agriculture as Carbon Cap and Storage
Scaling up from soil to the entire industry, the agricultural sector could be “broadly carbon neutral” by 2030, effectively negating the agricultural industry’s humongous carbon footprint. Translation: We would avoid emitting a whopping 2 gigatonnes — that’s 2 billion metric tonnes — of carbon dioxide. Given that, practicing sustainable agriculture, along with reducing deforestation, is far more effective, and billions of dollars cheaper, than investin…
Local Food Systems and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Combined with the two big green steps mentioned above, local food systems can help reduce agriculture’s impact on global warming even further. The example that resident sustainability engineer Pablo used for calculation — cherries grown close enough to be transported by truck rather than airplane — won’t apply to everything, but the lesson is clear: Employing organic agricultural practices has significant potential to help mitigate climate chang…
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Fertilizer and Pesticide Use
But wait, there’s more! If we consider some of the embodied energy required for industrial ag, it gets worse. According to Will Allen, green farmer extraordinaire, including all the “manufacture and use of pesticides and fertilizers, fuel and oil for tractors, equipment, trucking and shipping, electricity for lighting, cooling, and heating, and emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other green house gases” bumps the impact up to …
Land Use Changes and Agriculture
It’s not just the actual farming (if you can call it that) that makes industrial agriculture so detrimental. In almost every case, land use changes — say, deforestation, or paving over green space for suburban expansion — result in more surface warming. One exception: When deforestation occurs to create more agricultural land. That’s right, deforestation results in surface warming, with the exception being conversion to agriculture. Wait, what? The diff…