Tuesday, January 28, 2014

U.N. warns us to eat less meat and lay off biofuels, or we’re in for it | Grist

We’re overconsuming ourselves into environmental oblivion.
Farming will eliminate forests, plains, and other wild areas nearly the size of Brazil by 2050 around the world if we can’t mend our agricultural, dietary, and biofuel-burning ways. This unsustainable drive for more growing land will result in rising hunger and more frequent riots as food prices increase.
That’s the salty prognosis in a new report by scientists working for the U.N.’s International Resource Panel.
The amount of farmland has increased 11 percent since the 1960s, as growers struggle to meet growing populations’ ballooning demands for food and biofuel, according to the report. About 1.5 billion hectares, or 3.7 billion acres, is now being used globally to produce crops, and that figure continues to grow. Making matters worse, about a quarter of the world’s soils are degraded, which reduces the amount of crops that can be grown in them.
“Growing demand for food and non-food biomass will lead to an expansion of global cropland; yield growth will not be able to compensate for the expected surge in global demand,” the report states. “Cropland expansion at the cost of tropical forests and savannahs induces severe changes in the living environment with uncertain repercussions.”
What may be hardest for some of the world’s poorest and hungriest residents to stomach is the vast amount of farmland that’s being dedicated to growing crops for biofuels and for animal feed.
“One of our key challenges is overusing agricultural land for growing meat,” said report lead author Robert Howarth of Cornell University. “We don’t need to become complete vegetarians, but to put this into context and to help sustain feeding a burgeoning global population, we need to reduce our meat consumption by 60 percent — which is about 1940s era levels.”
Read entire article here:
U.N. warns us to eat less meat and lay off biofuels, or we’re in for it | Grist

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