by Pennell Paugh
In November 2011, an international group meeting in Durban, South Africa concluded that farming is the single largest contributor to greenhouse-gas pollution on the planet, through deforestation, rice growing and animal husbandry. Food production is rising sharply, requiring more carbon-based fuels and nitrogen-based fertilizers, both of which exacerbate global warming, river and ocean pollution, and a host of other ills.
Scientific American suggests that energy use can be cut by converting agricultural waste, such as manure, into power; implementing new, pilot-level farming techniques such as drip irrigation, no-till planting, laser-leveling of fields and GPS-driven machinery; and reducing spoiled and wasted food, which amounts to 25 to 30 percent of all food produced.
Scientists recommend that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) form a program to develop a global sustainable agriculture strategy. Scientists argue that the problem deserves a larger share of international climate-change mitigation funding.
The group praised Australia’s Carbon Farming Initiative—the world’s first national legislation aimed at reducing carbon emissions from farming and forestry which was enacted last August. The law allows farmers and investors to generate and trade carbon credits from farming and forestry projects. It could serve as a model for similar projects in other countries.
Gilbert, N. (2011, November 22) Summit Urged to Clean up Farming. Nature. Retrieved at: http://www.nature.com/news/summit-urged-to-clean-up-farming-1.9376.
Webber, M. (2011, December 29) How to Make the Food System More Energy Efficient. Scientific American. Retrieved at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=more-food-less-energy.