Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious, climate report says

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 9, 2019

Limiting global warming to less than 2ºC will need significant improvements to land use through changes such as switching to plant-based food, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Thursday.

But it offered a sobering take on the hope that reforestation and biofuel schemes alone can offset mankind's environmental damage, underlining that reducing emissions will be central to averting disaster.

Intensive exploitation of these resources also produces huge amounts of planet-warming CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, while agriculture guzzles up 70 percent of Earth's freshwater supply.

In a almost 60-page summary for policymakers, the IPCC said that since the pre-industrial period, land surface air temperature has already risen by 1.53 C - twice as much as the global average temperature of 0.87 C.

The report said global population growth and changes in consumption patterns have caused unprecedented rates of land and water use.

But the authors also say there are things humans can do right now to reduce climate change and address issues with land use - objectives that are intertwined.

Marx adds that we should try to eat local products as much as possible to decrease transportation emissions and support local economies.

It warned however that deployment at a scale needed to draw down billions of tonnes of Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year "could increase risks for desertification, land degradation, food security and sustainable development".

As the global population balloons towards 10 billion by mid-century, how land is managed by governments, industry and farmers will play a key role in limiting or accelerating the worst excesses of climate change. Past year it warned that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius - the optimal level aimed for in the Paris climate deal - would be impossible without a drastic drawdown in greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, deforestation in places such as the Amazon and Indonesia has harmed the ability of forests to retain carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Bioenergy in the form of vegetation used to sequester carbon also has potential. A panel of 107 IPCC scientists analyzed thousands of papers on desertification, food security, and land degradation to produce the report.

The 1,000-page report takes a deep dive into the systems we use to feed ourselves and the devastating impacts they are wreaking.

While this new report is global in scope - and particularly focuses on desertification, land degradation, deforestation and agricultural practices - there are some important recommendations that can be applied in New England to help mitigate climate change.

Not only does agriculture and its supply lines account for as much as 37 percent of all man-made emissions, current industrialised production and global food chains contribute to vast food inequality.

While almost 830 million people are undernourished, about 2 billion are overweight.

It also says over a quarter of the food produced is either lost or wasted.

"Eat quality food and eat low emissions food - and we have a huge march on the rest of the world in terms of our production systems". Women accounted for 40% of the lead authors.

But under all scenarios, one axiom held true: the higher the temperature, the higher the risk.

The new report focuses on land, which covers 30 percent of the Earth's surface and is warming almost twice as fast as the planet overall. The report outlines the ways that increased demand for food is not only warming the planet, but making it harder to farm. At 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the threat of a food crisis multiplies; even at 1.5 degrees C, wildfires are a grave threat.

He said the idea of closed meat production systems that aimed to capture emissions at barns were not a real challenge to New Zealand's meat production. "Those are their words".

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