Cowspiracy shines a light on the carbon emissions of the animal agriculture industry, but its beam is so narrow that it leaves the rest of agriculture and the economy hidden from view, and elevates dietary choice to political strategy.
Tackling carbon emissions from agriculture from farming isn't even on the table at the UN climate talks in December. It ought to be, and it's big agribusiness that's at the heart of the problem.
In 2006 a report from the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) threw the climate change effects of farming into the spotlight. It claimed that the meat and dairy industries are responsible for more greenhouse gases than the whole transport sector.
On a day when the skies were ashen from the smoke of distant wildfires, Chase Hurley kept his eyes trained on the slower-moving disaster at ground level: collapsing levees, buckling irrigation canals, water rising up over bridges and sloshing over roads.
This is the hidden disaster of California’s drought. So much water has been pumped out of the ground that vast areas of the Central Valley are sinking, destroying millions of dollars in infrastructure in the gradual collapse.
The thirty-three case studies shed light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent. They demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment.
This article is an attempt to chart what might happen in terms of climate change, both in terms of science, and particularly the potential politics, if we see a serious financial collapse followed by further contraction due to peaking energy and resources. Despite this being quite a likely scenario, there is barely anything written on the topic.
A palm oil company remains at the heart of conflict in northern Guatemala, months after a mass fish die-off. A day after company operations were suspended pending further investigation into the incident, three community leaders were abducted and threatened by company workers and an outspoken local teacher was murdered by unidentified assailants in broad daylight.
In Paris later this year, global leaders will meet at the Conference of Parties to thrash out a deal to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and to find a solution to the pressing financial needs of billions of people, smallholder women farmers among them, on the frontline in the fight to adapt to climate change.
One of the solutions put forward to address these challenges is the concept of ‘climate smart agriculture’ – but what is it? And should we be worried?
Recognition of the importance of agriculture and climate change is on the rise
In recent years there has been significant movement toward land acquisition in developing countries to establish forestry plantations for offsetting carbon pollution elsewhere in the world. This is often referred to as land grabbing.
These carbon trading initiatives work on the basis that forestry plantations absorb carbon dioxide and other polluting greenhouse gases. This helps to undo the environmental damage associated with modern western lifestyles.
Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention…. It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress.