As the world's policymakers and business elites look to curb greenhouse gas emissions, one economic sector due for a closer look is agriculture. Most people do not realize that agriculture is a major contributor to atmospheric CO2. Further, different types of agriculture have very different CO2 emission profiles.
Some have suggested a complete conversion to organic agriculture. But, on average, organic agriculture produces 30 percent less per hectare than conventional farms. If we were to convert entirely to organic agriculture, we would need at least 30 percent more farmland. Significant amounts of the remaining wilderness would have to be ploughed under to maintain current food production levels.
The conversion to organic farming would also require a tremendous increase in animals to generate manure fertilizer. Anyone who has ever been near the back end of a cow knows this would significantly increase a different greenhouse gas.
Organic farming practices generate significantly greater CO2 emissions while producing less than conventional agriculture. On the other hand, growing genetically modified crops allow the farmer to reduce CO2 emissions while maintaining yields.
08 August 2007
How Green Was My Valley?
I offer this not so much to damn organic food or low/no chemical farming, but as a warning to uws to be wary of short-sighted political hacks and their oft-used one-size-fits-all approcah to, un, wolrd improvement: