August 14, 2017

Food Solutions to Climate Change

Peter Bruce-iri

Peter Bruce-iri

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Originally published on Local Food NorthlandWow. Who would have thought that there are so many ways that we can reverse climate change. The Drawdown project, led by Paul Hawken is a game changer.  His project team details 80 ways we can take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Drawdown is the point where globally we start to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases (referred to as carbon equivalents).

The project groups the 80 interventions into 7 clusters, and the cluster that can generate the highest reduction – 31 percent – is FOOD! Between 2020 and 2050, food initiatives that are already underway can reduce greenhouse gases by 321.9 gigatonnes.

The pie chart indicates where the reductions can come. Food leads at 31 percent, followed by energy at 23 percent.

Surprisingly, efficiencies in refrigeration management is the single biggest item in the top ten CO2-equivalent reducers. Reduced food waste comes in at number three, contributing a 70.5 gig tonne reduction, with a plant-rich diet coming in fourth with a 66.1 gigatonne reduction. And I thought effective action was all about renewable energy and electric cars! But as Paul Hawken states,  all of these actions will make the difference.

Here is the full list of food interventions.


Science and advocacy with heart

For those who feel like climate change is too big for them to have impact, this food list provides lots of options for action. That is encouraging! What is also encouraging is the optimistic tone of the book. Paul Hawken writes:

“If we change the preposition, and consider that global warming is happening for us – an atmospheric transformation that inspires us to change and reimagine everything we make and do – we begin to live in a different world. We take 100 percent responsibility and stop blaming others. We see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius. This is not a liberal agenda, nor is it a conservative one. This is a human agenda.”

At number six and seven on the list is “educating girls” and “family planning.” At number 62 is women smallholders. These are emancipating aspirations. According to Drawdown, women feed many more people than the industrial food system:

On average, women make up 43 percent of the agricultural labor force and produce 60 to 80 percent of food crops in poorer parts of the world. Often unpaid or low-paid laborers, they cultivate field and tree crops, tend livestock, and grow home gardens. Most of them are part of the 475 million smallholder families who operate on less than 5 acres of land.

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