Even if the global emissions were to be completely stopped, the world food production could singlehandedly raise the global temperatures, says new research.
And by 2050, in such a scenario, the global temperatures would rise by 1.5°C and by 2°C by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial levels.
Emissions as a result of the global production of food are enough to raise the mean average temperature by 1.5 degrees celsius by mid-Century, and by the end of the century by 2 degrees celsius.
Both the scenarios – a blatant failure of the world’s most comprehensive climate goal actions taken to-date – the Paris Agreement – is inevitable even if all the emissions were to be cut immediately, the report says.
The study, published as a paper in the journal Science, Wednesday, is calling for a radical revamp of the world’s food production system, including what we eat, how much, and how much we waste.
The antithesis of the Paris agreement means if we’re not able to restructure our farming practices and also consumption, preventing the rise of 1.5°C or 2°C would be a distant dream.
“Our work shows that food is a much greater contributor to climate change than is widely known. Fortunately, we can fix this problem by using fertilizer more efficiently, by eating less meat and more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts and by making other important changes to our food system,” said Jason Hill, a professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering in the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and College of Science and Engineering.
Study authors reportedly made the future prediction of emission by noting the trends in dietary changes, population growth, and land-use change to feed the growing population.
But is there a way out?
Outlying a possible way-out from the food production-driven climate change, David Tilman, Regents Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior in the College of Biological Sciences said there are five ways –
- helping farmers in low-income countries
- increase their yields,
- eating healthier foods,
- avoiding overeating
- wasting less food
And “even partially adopting several of these five changes” could help humanity usher the needful change, on the condition “we start right now.”
The research also highlighted that the five points are ‘readily achievable’ and could lead to far-reaching impacts on humanity, apart from climate change.
“Discussions on mitigating climate change typically focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, for instance, from transportation or energy production. However, our research emphasizes the importance of also reducing emissions from the global food system,” said Michael Clark, a researcher in the Oxford Martin School and Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford.