188489 Food, GHGs, and climate change: Diet for a warming world

Monday, October 27, 2008: 4:30 PM

Danielle J. Nierenberg, MS , Farm Animal Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States and the Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC
While the impacts of transportation and industry in disrupting weather patterns have been extensively examined, only in the last decade has animal agriculture's role in climate change become better understood. This talk will examine how at every phase in meat, egg, and dairy production—including the manufacturing of artificial fertilizers, the exportation of grain, the growing of biofuels, and the raising of billions of animals in factory farms—greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. At the same time, farming is likely the human activity most dependent on a stable climate and is the industry that will struggle the most to cope with erratic weather, drought, and other climate-related events.

There has been a great deal of discussion among governments, development agencies, and NGOs about the “winners and losers” in climate change. Wine growers in the United States and New Zealand, for example, expect to have longer growing seasons; farmers in the U.S. Midwest predict more rainfall and higher yields of some crops, such as corn and soybeans. For the world's poorest, however, climate change will make an already tenuous existence all the more difficult, increasing hunger and poverty among people with the greatest challenges.

By shifting to more environmentally sustainable food production and consumption practices—including reducing intake of meat, eggs, and dairy; increasing organic cultivation of crops; supporting agro-forestry and maintaining grasslands; and encouraging shifts away from industrial, intensive farm animal production—agriculture can help mitigate the impacts of a warming world.

Learning Objectives:
• Describe the connections between food production and climate change. • Evaluate current and future impacts of climate change on hunger and food security. • Identify potential climate mitigation strategies for the food industry, including reducing food packaging, transport, and sourcing food from local and regional suppliers. • Explain how sustainable agricultural practices and sustainable consumption—including reducing meat, egg, and dairy consumption—can help mitigate the effects of climate change. • Develop a list of priorities for consumers to consider when making food buying choices.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Agriculture, Food, and Environment M.S. Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy 7 years of experience researching and writing about sustainable agriculture.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.