Climate: we won’t solve the problem without changing our diet

The food issue is crucial in the fight against global warming, emphasizes AFP scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig, who has spent decades studying the interactions between climate change and what we eat.

His research at NASA, at the famous Goddard Space Center, which won him the World Food Prize this week, especially warns of the impact of global warming on food.

How does the food system promote climate change?

“Climate change cannot be slowed down without paying attention to greenhouse gas emissions from food systems. Among other things, our work shows that these emissions represent about a third of total human emissions. At the same time, food security for everyone depends on the changing climate. As we enter a pivotal decade for climate action, food needs to be put on the table.”

What are the effects of global warming on food?

“High temperatures are generally bad for crops because they accelerate their growth, giving them less time to produce grain. This significantly reduces yields. And then there are extreme events that take place at critical moments, such as a heat wave during corn pollination. In many agricultural regions they are increasing in frequency and intensity.

And of course there is water, crucial for food production. Warming is changing the water cycle in many agricultural areas, with more droughts and more heavy rainfall, as warmer air can hold more water.

Using the latest climate scenarios, the crop modeling team at AgMIP (Crop Simulation Program Launched by Cynthia Rosenzweig, Editor’s Note) has found that the impact on certain agricultural regions around the world is expected to be felt much earlier, even in the early 2030s It’s really fast.

Some of these key areas where these early effects will be felt are in the central United States, West Africa, and East Asia. In West Africa, agricultural production could fall by 20 to 40%, or even more.”

What solutions to change things?

“Increasing carbon storage can help combat global warming. We need to increase the efficiency of agricultural production and reduce food waste: it’s a margin, but about a third of the food produced is lost or wasted. If we didn’t waste so much food, we wouldn’t have to produce so much, and therefore we would reduce emissions from agricultural production.

In developed countries, there is also scope for food choices that can make a difference, as livestock-related emissions, primarily from beef and milk, are significant.

But when we talk about consumption, we have to recognize that the solutions differ according to the context and take into account issues of justice. Many people around the world have no choice when it comes to food.

There is undoubtedly a movement for food system transformation.

Food is the most important climate sector and connects everyone on earth to global warming. We need to transform our food system to ensure food security for all and a healthy planet.”

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