CMMS 1811 A2: The Effects of Agriculture on Carbon Emission Statistics

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CMMS 1811 A2:  The Effects of Agriculture on Carbon Emission Statistics

            Modern agricultural practices are characterized by the use of technology and scientific innovations to increase the crop yield needed to meet the growing demand for food by burgeoning global population. These contemporary farming activities are developed to fulfill the goal of obtaining the highest possible yields and maximum achievable profit.  The new practices are exemplified by intensive tillage, genetic manipulation of plant crops, monoculture, chemical pest control, irrigation, and the application of inorganic fertilizers to attain these objectives. These farming approaches have been established to be counter-productive because of the adverse effects they present to the environment and by extension, to human health  and wellbeing. Unlike modern agricultural methods, subsistence methods are based on mixed farming measures typified by intercropping, and biological control of pests and diseases. These conventional methods are incredibly beneficial to the environment and society due to these  characteristics. The global agricultural industry and food system, which comprises  of sectors such as fertilizer manufacturing, food packaging, and storage, involves activities that are harmful and degenerative to natural surroundings. Intensive modern-day industrial farming methods  contribute  to  one-third of all the anthropogenic sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

            The unfavorable impacts of global warming and climate change are well documented and witnessed in various parts of the world. Accordingly, these consequences have manifested as violent and erratic weather patterns, floods, droughts and famines, and rising sea levels.  The methods used in the contemporary agriculture  also cause an increase  in the emission of greenhouse gases such as methane for enteric fermentation, soil nitrification, and denitrification, and manure decomposition. The production of food is related directly to industries such as fertilizer production, transportation, and food processing, packaging, and storage – sectors that are involved in activities that form  sources of harmful discharges (Cleary 34). Indeed, the quest to satisfy the global need for food at a maximum profit is destroying the environment by contributing significantly to greenhouse gases emissions. The existence of alternative, effective, sustainable farming methods illustrates that people and societies are responsible for promoting a destructive food system that threatens their survival and subsistence in the long term (FAO 125).  Despite the existence of better alternative farming methods,. the use of harmful agricultural practices to gratify the universal food demand does not justify the destruction of the environment.  

            The argument that food security is more important than environmental sustainability is ill-informed and based on skewed evidence that is contrary to the undesirable impacts of climate change and global warming.  In fact, the assurance of human health, wellbeing, and survival is heavily reliant on food security which in turn depends on environmental sustainability (Vermeulen, Campbell, and Ingram 216). A continued increase in the emission of greenhouse gases will result in climate change characterized by unpredictable weather patterns that render current food production methods ineffective. Healthy human life is  of paramount importance, but it  should be attained  through sustainable means that address immediate food concerns and secure potential for continued production in the future.  Moreover, it is also important to acknowledge the irrationality of environmental destruction since food production is tied to ecological sustainability (Thornton 398). In this respect, people are responsible for ensuring that the fulfillment of current global food demand does not undermine the survival and existence of future generations. Continued high-level emission of greenhouse gases will destroy the environment making it inhabitable for animal and plant life.

            Practices and processes involved in modern-day agriculture contribute significantly to carbon emission statistics. Research evidence from the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) by Vermeulen, Campbell, and Ingram (202) demonstrates  that the current food system and agricultural practices are unsustainable. Activities in the food system that are excellent examples of how farming procedures  affect the level of greenhouse releases are the fertilizer manufacturing industry and food production (Cleary 24). Fertilizer production and refrigeration processes contribute up to 575 and 500 megatons on average of greenhouse gases respectively. Agricultural production is  the most significant contributor  to greenhouse gas (GHS) emissions since it  releases 86% or 12,000 megatons of all agrarian sources of GHS. FAO (132) uses research evidence gathered and corroborated by various similar studies from different parts of the world to conclude that current farming approaches degrade and deplete the environment. Modern-day practices assume a considerable role in biodiversity loss,  human health risks , and climate change.

            Agricultural practices affect carbon emission statistics due to the role they assume in the release of greenhouse gases. Components such as tillage, enteric fermentation, and the decomposition of manure have been credited for these releases. The continued destruction of the environment cannot be vindicated by the immediate need to satisfy the world’s demand for food. The argument that environmental sustainability is not tied to food security is misinformed and founded on distorted evidence that seems opposite to the destructive impacts of climate change witnessed across the globe. Without concentrating on measures aimed at conserving the environment, it will be impossible to implement measures that improve food production in the long-term. Assuring people’s sustainable potential to produce enough food will depend on their ability to conserve the environment by striking a sustainable balance for mutual benefit.

Works Cited

Cleary, David. “Deconstructing Sustainable Intensification and Issues around Sustainability Metrics.” n. d., Accessed 25 Jul. 2018.

Food and Agriculture Organization. Climate Change and Food Systems: Global assessments and Implications for Food Security and Trade. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2015.

Thornton, Philip K. “Recalibrating Food Production in the Developing World: Global Warming Will Change More Than Just the Climate.” CCAFS Policy Brief, no. 6, 2012, pp. 391-411.

Vermeulen, Sonja J., Bruce M. Campbell, and John S. I. Ingram. “Climate Change and Food Systems.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources, vol. 37, 2012, pp. 195-222.

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