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Global Food System Emissions Alone Threaten Warming Beyond 1.5°C—But We Can Act Now To Stop It

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/11/06/global-food-system-emissions-alone-threaten-warming-beyond-15degc-we-can-act-now

Agricultural emissions are dominated by nitrous oxide (N₂O), mostly from fertilisers spread on fields (both synthetic and animal manures), and methane (CH₄), largely produced by ruminant livestock such as cows and sheep, and rice farming.

Rice Farming?
where is the measurements from the other days of the year?
the data about carbon capture numbers?
how about research data about “organic” farming vs. other farming processes.
methane absorption?




I agree the meat industry needs to be dialed back a few notches and the amount of fruit and vegetables people (especially Americans) eat should be increased a lot.

A bigger problem than rice nitrous oxide and methane…


Food waste or food loss is food that is not eaten. The causes of food waste or loss are numerous and occur throughout the food system, during production, processing, distribution, retail and consumption. Global food loss and waste amount to between one-third and one-half.

I wont say we are feeding 7 billion people, because we aren’t.
But we could and not change a thing.


We have to work smarter, not harder.

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Know how the AP spun this?

The subhead of its piece on the study read

“Veganism not required; half measures would work, researchers find”.

Lynch isn’t calling for “half measures” here, but the corpress’ take is that we can do things half assed and still “give the world a fighting chance” that we won’t topple over the climate cliff.

Jesus Marion Joseph …



forgot to add


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Why is it that these articles skim over or omit all together, a very large tool to put carbon back in the ground in our toolbox?
Hemp, Hemp, Hemp!
Produces thirteen times the growth of trees in a given year, and should be planted everywhere there is open, unused land, till into the ground at the end of the growing season, repeat, repeat, repeat.


great idea with real potential, I wouldn’t mind seeing hemp replace many products we use today.
you focused on pollutant (co2) capture with the bonus of , but…
why not marijuana?
get both fibers and intoxicants.
also let’s think about getting more out of the land …
let sheep (goats?) graze farm (fruit) lands, then birds, rinse repeat as needed or possible.
get wool (fiber), feathers from birds(down), get meat(s), milk, and eggs from animals, plus fruits and vegetables. We can inter crop with marijuana and get all of the benefits of a properly utilized piece of land.
can we be more productive I wonder? It has been a thought for a few decades.

Clearly the rich need to eat a lot less meat, and the rest can’t start eating more. What meat we do eat will have to be produced by organic permacultural methods in service of plant production. The emissions from rice can be cut some but the per capita emissions there are far less; rice feeds a lot more people per ton of CO2e and those people can ill afford severe reductions while the rich would actually benefit from significant reductions in food consumption–especially animal food.

The 40% of food grown that’s simply thrown out in the US is also absolutely unacceptable and has to stop. Shortening supply lines (home and community food production) will help; education will help, but structural changes are needed, too. The same changes need to be made in clothing production. But both are driven largely by the gross extravagance of the rich; both will have to be changed largely by political and economic equalizing.

Deforestation has to be stopped; this is likely going to be the hardest of all the many hard things we have to do, because it requires a radical change in the economic system of the world, and a complete and immediate rejection of the existing system of neo-colonialism and racism by the rich.

It’s delusional at this point to talk about staying under 1.5° or even 2°C under pre-industrial temperature. We’re simply not going to; it’s mathematically impossible. We’re headed now for 1.5 in less than a decade, and by around mid-century, at least 3°, maybe 4. This is utterly catastrophic—a temperature civilization cannot survive. So current plans by many countries and US states to reduce emissions by only 80% or so by 2050 are completely insane.

To put more stock in political “reality” than in ecological reality is a symptom of civilization’s—and more accurately the oligarchy’s—very serious emotional illness. it’s simply out of touch with real reality. Political reality is unknown and unreal to the point of being nothing more than speculative fiction; it has almost no place in any discussion of what needs to be done about the ecological crisis. To not understand ecology at this age of humanity is to have no idea what needs to be done in politics, economics, philosophy, religion, or anything else. Whatever it takes we have to move faster than governments and the public are thinking now.


Well marijuana would work too, but we want it tilled into the ground to capture carbon, not picked and enjoyed before that happens. :)))





Mother does not till though.

“Mother does not till though”.

True, but we don’t have the time to wait for natural biomass break-down. Man has screwed-up much of the natural order of our ecosystem, and will have to speed up carbon sequestration if we are to survive. Also from a farming perspective, no-till is not very effective in areas that have fast weed growth and/or weeds that reproduce with tuberous rhizomes, without using harsh chemicals to “burn” them down. I believe this is more damaging to the ecosystem than properly used tillage.

Excellent commentary, especially your closing paragraph on the unreality of politics vs the reality of ecology. That said, it would seem that politics is required for “political and economic equalizing,” unless we just wait for the great equalizer of collapse. A conundrum. And so far as i can see, no new paradigm for politics or economics or agriculture has begun a growth curve to inspire hope for accelerating change to accommodate ecological reality in any realistic or useful time frame.

i write here regularly about changes that are needed - land reform, wealth reform, democratization of wealth, abolish the predatory colonizing economic model of the investor-owned limited-liability corporation, institute ecological and social accounting as superior to financial accounting, replace industrial meat and chemical industrial commodity monocropping agriculture with more labor-intensive agroecology / permaculture, etc. etc. Also i sometimes write about what i see as necessary efforts to catalyze the needed changes - organized mass movements of popular education and popular power to face down the entrenched predatory colonizing powers that presently rule the political economy, etc. etc. etc.

But the “real world” of political economy ignores communication such as this, and studiously ignores ecological reality, as we continue accelerating toward catastrophe now plainly already underway. i don’t see how we can break the hold of “the economy” on our consciousness, break the hold of interested-party oligarchic propaganda and distraction on our consciousness, so that we can step back and see the living world as it is, see ourselves as part of this living world, and act in accordance with these basic truths, to stop demonization of “others,” stop fighting other humans, and take care of each other while we focus on working to end the industrial assault on ecology, rework our human systems to work in harmony with ecological systems, and allow ecological restabilization to take hold.

Always appreciate your posts.

Thankfully there is plenty of information available to those willing to read and understand the way the world works.
You’re Welcome.

How is your stock and mutual funds performing in the 2020 real world?

Just a suggestion, you might want to expand your horizons on soil science beyond the general overview the is provided by Wikipedia.
If interested, Acres USA, and The Rodale Institute are a good place to start.

What is needed is that rather then try and force Nature to work for us, we become observers of nature and work with her.

Just as example to meat eating. Yes feedlots and the modern way meat raised pollutes our ecosystems and sends an inordinate amount of CO2 into the atmosphere , but at the same time , grazing animals living on grasslands as they evolved to do will remove and help sequester that CO2.

Grasslands sequester a lot of carbon but as the grass grows longer less carbon sequestered. Too short and less carbon is sequestered. When grazing animals roam a grassland (as the Bison did for all those years) the grass is kept at a height that is optimal for sequestering carbon. Just as the Wolfs absence from an ecosystem leads to a less healthy system , so too does removing grazers from grazing land.

This does not mean we chop down every forest so as to grow grass and let loose the cattle. It means we work WITH a given ecosystem rather then try and remake it.

Vertical agriculture is also a thing. This where we use much less in the way of land to grow the same amount of food. Again this has to focus on species native to a given area and not ones imported from abroad that rely on the farmer adding ever more in the way of artificial imports in order to get it to grow.


Thanks for the links and the advice.

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