Sunday, December 20, 2009

Getting at the Roots of Unsustainable U.S. Agriculture Policy

Grist has an interesting summary of the ties between agriculture, food, ecosystem health and climate change -- talking about the problems in some of the USDA's current solutions.

Around one third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the way we produce, process, distribute, and consume the food we eat according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Meanwhile, farmers the world over will be the most affected by climate change, as higher carbon in the atmosphere and higher temperatures increase erratic weather patterns, pests, and disease occurrence, while decreasing water availability, disrupting relationships with pollinators and lowering yield and the efficacy of herbicides like glyphosate (aka Round-Up)—all detailed in a revealing new report from the USDA called The Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Ecosystems [pdf].

Among the author's critiques of current U.S. ag policy, there is some good commentary about the importance soil-building farming techniques that both boost resilience to climate change and increase the power of agriculture to store carbon (as well as to remain more fertile, thus reducing fertilizer costs).

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