Sustainable Agriculture Requires Numerous Measures
Adequate climate protection is inevitably associated with sustainable agriculture and thus, long-term production of food. But is this a way to succeed? After all, humankind is facing significant challenges in times of climate change. These processes also affect how we will produce our food in the future as the methods of agriculture that we are using today are not a solution. However, something has to be changed significantly in this sphere, so that nutrition and climate protection can be secured. But there are already approaches that point to such a future. There might be some good solutions to achieve both goals.
However, the climate balance of global agriculture is currently not looking good. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assumes that agriculture is responsible for around 37 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Changes in land use, such as are common in Brazil, for example, are mainly negative. Tropical rainforests are burned down and used in the future for growing monocultures. These mainly include soy and palm oil. That has a significantly negative impact on the climate balance. As soon as people burn down a forest, it releases the carbon dioxide bound in the trees and the soil. That goes straight into the atmosphere. Besides, there are emissions from fertilization with minerals and the release of methane by livestock. So all in all, more than 40% of all emissions depend on how we currently eat and how we farm.
At the same time, however, one also recognizes an opportunity for the future. Plants can bind CO2; healthy soils can store carbon. That proves that climate protection and agriculture are not mutually exclusive; they can complement one another. The way to protect the climate, therefore points in two directions. On the one hand, we must reduce the amount of CO2 emissions; at the same time, we need ecosystems that can store more carbon. We can achieve these goals with the preservation and expansion of forests, as well as a conversion to ecological agriculture. That can perform positive side effects in this way. A healthy diet, clean water and less animal suffering should go without saying.
The Necessary Steps
There are several steps to get there. First of all, it is essential to preserve and protect the rainforest. The reforestation of already cleared forests is just as crucial. That binds more CO2, stores water, and helps to preserve biodiversity. We need diversified agriculture, fewer pesticides, and fertilizers. As a result, you can store more CO2. An end to factory farming in combination with less meat consumption will stop overfertilization and ensure less polluted waters. Fewer animals in organic agriculture mean less feed and therefore, less cleared rainforests. With short transport routes and a focus on local products in the supply, reduce the transport routes, and thus also reduce the CO2 emitted. If we can cut the amount of food waste we would be able to take a big step towards better climate protection and more sustainable agriculture.