Why what we eat is crucial to the climate change question
Our food – from what we eat to how it is grown – accounts for more carbon emissions than transport and yet staple crops will be hit hard by global warming
Did you know that what’s on your plate plays a larger role in contributing to climate change than the car you drive? When most wealthy people think about their carbon footprint, or their contributions to climate change, they’ll think about where their electricity and heat come from or what they drive. They’ll think about fossil fuels and miles per gallon, about LED lights and mass transit – but not so much about combine harvesters or processed meals or food waste. Few consider the impacts of the food they eat, despite the fact that globally, food systems account for roughly one quarter of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions. That’s more than the entire transportation sector, more than all industrial practices, and roughly the same as the production of electricity and heat.
Meanwhile, the most immediate threat of climate change for most of the global population will be at the dinner table, as our ability to grow critical staple crops is being affected by the warming we’ve already experienced. Between 1980 and 2008, for instance, wheat yields dropped 5.5 % and maize yields fell 3.8% due to rising temperatures. Climate change threatens the food security of millions of poor people around the world. Young people are increasingly keen to protect the environment by shifting to animal-product-free diets. They seek plant proteins which taste like meat, while insects are also growing popular as an alternative.