THE IMPACT OF INTENSIVE AGRICULTURE ON THE CLIMATE
The global climate is significantly influenced by the development of intensive agriculture. Indeed, rising livestock numbers and the usage of artificial fertilizers have elevated the concentration of a key greenhouse gas well above natural levels. Let’s take a closer look at the devastating effects of intensive farming.
Since pre-industrial times, the amount of nitrous oxide released by excessive use of chemical fertilizers and organic sources such as animal dung has increased by 20%. As a result, it has a heating effect 300 times greater than carbon dioxide.
Agricultural nitrous oxide emissions are roughly two-thirds due to artificial fertilizers. This gas is produced when soil microorganisms break down excess fertilizer, especially in marshy or too damp soils where oxygen is scarce. Farmers can reduce their share of nitrous oxide emissions by following a few easy methods, such as accurately targeting fertilizer use, preventing overuse, and applying fertilizer only when the weather permits.
The globe risks exceeding the Paris Agreement’s 2°C warming limit if nothing is done. Indeed, feeding people should not come at the expense of conserving the environment.
According to a recent study, Brazil, China, and India have the fastest-growing nitrous oxide emissions due to the rapid adoption of intensive livestock and grain production. Despite increased agricultural output, US emissions have remained relatively constant.
Europe was the only region to reduce nitrous oxide emissions, but most of the decreases were due to industrial demands, particularly for nylon mills. Agriculture has seen a slower reduction in emissions, but several EU countries have taken considerable initiatives to restrict fertilizer toxicity.
Besides that, another study found that many insect populations are declining dramatically as a result of a combination of rising temperatures and shifting land use patterns. Depending on how intensely agriculture is conducted in the area, insect biodiversity varies.
The number of insects was found to be 49 percent lower and the number of unique species was 29 percent lower in places with high-intensity agriculture and significant climate warming than in most natural environments with no apparent temperature rise. As a result of land use and climate change, insect biodiversity has plummeted the most in tropical places.
Summers in the Midwest are cooler and wetter as a result of increased maize and soybean production.
Another recent study from MIT and Dartmouth College shows how intensive agriculture, a different type of land use, can have an impact on regional climate. It has been discovered that agricultural techniques in the Midwest accelerated in the latter half of the twentieth century, resulting in massive increases.
If intensive agriculture is one of the causes of climate change, women and men who live off the land are the first to suffer. It is also a matter of food security, in addition to the climatic emergency and the economic and social imperative! This is why it is utterly urgent to address the issue is intensive agriculture to limit the impact!