Climate Change, Agriculture, and the Right to Food
Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food
A 4 minute interview with Professor Michael Pollan also emphasizes the importance of the method of production for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He points out that 100 years ago it took 1 calorie of fossil fuel to produce two calories of food. Today in the U.S. it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of food. Michael Pollan is Director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, author, and critic of the global industrial food complex. Watch Professor Pollan's interview on
The agricultural sector accounts for a substantial portion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Direct agriculture worldwide is responsible for 13.5 percent of GHG. In addition, deforestation accounts for another 17.4 percent of GHG, making agricultural activities accountable for almost 31 percent of GHG. This is of course substantial and a reason that agriculture needs to be part of the plan for reducing these emissions.
Jim Kleinschmit, Director of Rural Communities at the Institute for Trade and Agriculture Policy, reports on the multiple ways agriculture impacts and is impacted by climate change. He notes that achieving “climate-friendly” agriculture systems requires a shift in focus, research, and investment away from industrialized input and fossil-fuel dependent agricultural practices toward more resilient low-input systems that increase carbon sequestration in the soil and lessen output of greenhouse gases. Kleinschmit explains that the focus needs to be on the kinds of foods we produce and how we produce them because 50 to 83 percent of emissions are produced before food leaves the farm gate. Listen to highlights on Jim Kleinschmidt's six minute YouTube on Agriculture and Climate Change.
Anna Lappé, has just released Diet for a Hot Planet, which shows how much our global food system drives the climate crisis—even more than transportation. The destructive planet-heating food production and distribution we now experience are consequences of the centralizing control of farmland, processing, and distribution by global mega-corporations. Providing food for the world's population does not have to be that way. Agriculture itself can be part of the solution since ecological farming actually binds carbon in the soil. Such earth-friendly, hunger-ending farming is proving its potential from Ethiopia to Brazil to India to the U.S. Read Lappe's mother's article at Yes, a nonprofit publication that supports people’s active engagement in building a just and sustainable world.
There is a huge difference between wealthy nations and poorer ones in their contribution to the global warming crisis facing the Earth and in the impact global warming is currently having on these countries. Shalini Gupta and Cecilia Martinez of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy point out that government policies created the disparities we see today in development, energy use, and CO2 emissions.
In a video recorded talk, Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, advocates rethinking the relationship between the climate change agenda and the human rights agenda, especially the right to food. "The effect of climate change on the right to food will be massive in the next few years . . . whole regions will find it more difficult to feed themselves as the result of changes in temperature and more extreme weather related events." Listen to his talk on finding ways to make the right to food and climate mitigation mutually complementary.