Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Climate Change and Agriculture

While many literatures are exploring how agriculture should cope with climate change and global warming, it can be said too, that agriculture and large scale food production greatly contributed to climate change. There are nearly 7 billion people in the world now, and several billions more heads of cows, carabaos/water buffalos, pigs, chickens, other animals for human consumption. In the Philippines for instance, to have 4.2 million hectares of rice land, then another 1+ million hectares of corn and sugar land, we had to cut down forest land by the same area and convert them into rice land and corn land. We also had to cut down several million hectares more of forest land for vegetable production, pineapple and banana plantation, mango and other fruits plantation, animal grazing land, for human settlements, industrial and commercial lands, military reservation, etc. One can repeat the same estimation in any country – the large-scale conversion of forest land into agri land, residential land, commercial and industrial land, public infrastructure, and so on.

But we cannot stop food production, or we cannot stop building houses, schools and shops, roads and power plants. At the end of the day, we really have to live with climate change; the most we can do is to reduce the deterioration of climate change, but never really stop it.

While it is acceptable to say that conventional agricultural practices are more unsustainable compared to organic or ecological agriculture, demand for the former will just remain to be big. People would rather die 20 or 30 years from now for eating inorganically- produced foods, than die next month or next year for lack of money to buy expensive (due to limited supply) organic products.

One remote possibility someday, is that mankind will be forced to re-convert agricultural land back to forest land, hundreds of millions of hectares of them. And mankind will have to eat agri food from very small agri land, using greenhouse structures and genetically- engineered crops that use zero pesticides, zero chemical fertilizers, and produced on a mass-scale.

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