Explaining the Food and
Climate Change Connection
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We’ve culled the reports and studies and scoured papers and journals to highlight some of the key issues related to agriculture and climate change. The resources below are a great starting place, but new resources are published all the time and while we’ll keep updating this resource list, we also suggest you visit the Food Climate Research Network for comprehensive and up-to-the-minute resources.
Our friends over at the Cool Foods Campaign have a great glossary of key terms and overview of the key issues.
Also, check out the resources at the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute. There you’ll find a literature review of “Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Food System” and downloadable presentations about food and climate change themes.
The Big (Big) Picture
The Food and Farming Transition: Toward a Post-Carbon Food System
A report from Richard Heinberg and Michael Bonford of the Post Carbon Institute, on transitioning our food system away from it’s current dependance on fossil fuels.
Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops
This report from Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists evaluates the contribution of genetic engineering (GE) to increasing crop yield in the United States, contrasts that contribution with yield gain from other agricultural methods and technologies, and discusses the challenge ahead for the global food system.
Agriculture and Development: A summary of the International Assessment on Agricultural Science and Technology for Development
This report by the IAASTD “focuses on how to make better use of agricultural science, knowledge and technology to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods, and foster equitable ad sustainable development.”
Voices From Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak Out Against a
New Green Revolution in Africa.
This report compiled by the Oakland Institute gives voice to African farmers and activists in a direct challenge to “Western-led plans for a genetically engineered revolution in African agriculture… [it] presents African resistance and solutions rooted in first-hand knowledge of what Africans need.”
Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The most authoritative source on global warming, Nobel Peace-Prize winning IPCC provides the big, big picture on global warming. Specific sections include analysis about food and climate change.
Agriculture’s Role in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and published in September 2006, this paper provides an in-depth role of the agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions.
Manifesto on Food and Climate Change
Dr. Vandana Shiva and the International Commission on the Future of Food
This is perhaps the best summary of the connection between climate change and the food system and what actions we should take to secure our food for the future. Author of Soil Not Oil, among many other brilliant texts, Dr. Vandana Shiva does a masterful job of summarizing the crisis and the solutions.
The Climate Change and Food Connection in the Media
Yesterday’s dinner, tomorrow’s weather, today’s news? US newspaper coverage of food system contributions to climate change
by Roni L. Neff, PhD, Iris L. Chan, and Katherine Clegg Smith, Public Health Nutrition Cambridge University Press, September 2008.
This study, headed up by Roni Neff, PhD, Research Director for the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, examines the media attention (or lack thereof) paid to the important connection between food and climate change.
The Folly of Biofuels
“Losing Ground: The human rights impacts of oil palm plantation expansion in Indonesia,” Friends of the Earth, February 2008.
A detailed study of the impact of the expansion of palm plantations on global warming.
“Fueling Disaster Report: A Community Food Security Perspective on Agrofuels,” by the International links Committee of the Community Food Security Coalition and Corrina Steward, EcoResource Consulting
A good overview of the debate about biofuel production, and particularly its impact on small-scale farmers around the globe.
“Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat,” Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times, February 8, 2008
Rosenthal breaks the news: peer-reviewed journals reveal that biofuel production will lead to an overall net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Meat of the Matter
“Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options,” from the LEAD (Livestock, Environment And Development) initiative of the United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, November 2006
The most comprehensive study of the impact of livestock production on greenhouse gas emissions. If you want to read something a little more digestible, take a look at some of these resources.
“An HSUS Report: The Impact of Animal Agriculture on Global Warming and Climate Change,” Danielle Nierenberg, Humane Society of the United States, November 2007
Nierenberg provides a great summary of the literature on animal agriculture’s contribution to climate change.
“Rethinking the Guzzler,” Mark Bittman, The New York Times, January 27, 2008
While not focused specifically on climate change, Bittman powerfully summarizes many of the problems with animal agriculture.
“Skillful Means: The Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming,” from Brighter Green, August 2008
Brighter Green explores the emerging superpower’s “livestock revolution,” which is having serious impacts on public health, food security, and equity in China—and the world.
The Climate Change Benefits of Organic Farming
There are a number of studies about the benefits in greenhouse gas emissions reductions of organic production. Take a look at some of these resources at the Rodale Institute.
The Big Picture – Op-Eds from Take a Bite’s Anna Lappé
“Homegrown Hope,” Anna Lappé, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 19, 2008
“Largest Beef Recall, Ever. Now, Real Change?” Anna Lappé, Huffington Post, February 21, 2008
“Think Globally, Act Locally,” Anna Lappé and Jennifer Wilkins, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 17, 2007