Our Food Choices and Climate Change, what’s the connection?
I may not remember much from my years of science training, but in a world of finite resources it would seem ludicrous to base all decisions concerning production and consumption on the idea that they are infinite. You cannot create matter. You can’t force nature, you can’t push natural systems with synthetic inputs indefinitely. There are always consequences. Yes, it works in the short term, in the long term it doesn’t. This approach is leading to the devastation we see all around us today: in the environment, water pollution, air pollution, soil degradation, biodiversity destruction & on our health: disease.
It has been a wet and windy winter, it has been mild and did I say it already wet? And it continues to be wet.
It seems to me that the seasons are changing and in fact there is not much to distinguish one season from the other anymore. Some December days were warmer than some days in July, the rain seems to be our constant companion. I guess we should not complain as it could be the other extreme.
Climate change is very real. There is no fear that the planet will keep on turning with or without us. But I wonder how many of the wonderful creatures on this planet we will take with us in our race to use more, eat more, take more and spend more?
Do our food choices really have any impact on climate change? Well here are some interesting facts that may help you decide for yourself:
- Governments recognise agriculture’s role in climate change, they know that agriculture, forestry and other land use activities emitted more than 10 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2014. (Total global CO2 emissions in 2014 were 32 billion tonnes) They know that emission have nearly doubled over the past fifty years and could increase by an additional 30 percent by 2050, without greater efforts to reduce them.
- Agricultural emissions from crop and livestock production grew from 4.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents* (CO2 eq) in 2001 to over 5.3 billion tonnes in 2011, a 14% increase.
- Emissions generated during the application of synthetic fertilizers accounted for 13% of agricultural emissions (725 Mt CO2 eq.) in 2011, and are the fastest growing emissions source in agriculture, having increased some 37% since 2001. (Data from the Food and agricultural organisation of the United Nations)
Organic farming does not use synthetic fertilisers.
GLAS is a new scheme introduced by the Irish government that encourages farmers to adopt greener approaches to their farming and rewards them in return. This is a good thing.
Even for us organic farmers that are pretty green anyway it means some really good stuff. We have been accepted onto the scheme and so we are planting a further 450 trees, to compliment the well-established 3000 tree forest that we already have. We are putting in a further 250m of hedgerows which are critical for wild life and biodiversity. We are putting sand banks in for bees and boxes for bats.
I am really excited about another development that is taking place on our farm in a couple of weeks. Michael Hughes a very seasoned bee keeper and a member of the Beekeepers Association of Ireland is putting two hives of honey bees onto our farm. This is fantastic news for us and for the bees, and I can’t wait to see how they get on.
I would argue that our food choices have a massive impact on our health and just as an important impact on our planet. To paraphrase with a twist a recent multinational marketing campaign “Food is a powerful thing, choose wisely”
(Trying to eat wisely and not always succeeding!)
P.S. you can catch us on the UTV player from last week and we will be on again on Monday!