Ag singled out in climate change discussion

Ag singled out in climate change discussion


Agriculture often gets discussed in the climate change debate, but what about the impact of vehicle pollution, manufacturing or air travel?

Agriculture often gets discussed in the climate change debate, but what about the impact of vehicle pollution, manufacturing or air travel?

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THE Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on climate change and land use made headlines last week, with many of them rather unfair on agriculture.

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THE Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report on climate change and land use made headlines last week.

I first heard about the report while listening to a radio news bulletin on Friday morning. Those who know me are well aware I have a pretty short fuse at the best of times, but by the end of the report - which probably only lasted a mere 30 seconds - I was rather worked up.

I know news bulletins are meant to be short and sharp, but this particular item seemed to simplify an incredibly complex issue.

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It said agriculture and forestry contributed a quarter of all carbon emissions, and said the IPCC report indicated the race to limit global warming might be lost unless food waste is reduced and land is used in a more sustainable way.

This 30-second grab was enough to make me investigate further and read more about the report, but I'm sure not everyone listening would've done the same. I was left wondering how many Adelaideans would have absorbed little more than a perception that 'agriculture is not sustainable', or, going even further, that 'agriculture is a cause of climate change'.

How many people are now thinking, "If we want to stop climate change, we have to cut back agriculture"?

Of course agriculture uses water and causes emissions. But it's hardly alone - everything manufactured across the globe uses natural resources, requires water, creates emissions and/or requires energy. Why is agriculture being targeted?

Is it because it's easy to take a statistic like a quarter of carbon emissions coming from agriculture and forestry and lay the blame on someone else, rather than stopping to consider our own footprints?

How about highlighting the percentage of the world's population that is alive today thanks to the food produced by commercial agriculture?

What about vehicle pollution from cities, emissions from poorly-regulated industrial sectors overseas or ever-increasing air travel? Are these not contributing factors that, dare I suggest it, don't have anywhere near the benefits to humanity that agriculture does?

If we're going to focus on statistics and percentages, how about highlighting the percentage of the world's population that is alive today thanks to the food produced by commercial agriculture?

I know I'm biased, but what's more sustainable than the very sector that sustains human existence on the planet?

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