Global Warming and Climate Change
“Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening” – James Hansen.
Climate change is a phenomenon in which Earth’s average surface temperature gradually increases due to the buildup of greenhouse gases, predominately carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is an issue that needs to be collectively addressed or humans could miss the opportunity of a tipping point. Earth is quickly approaching a mark where even planting more trees would not save this planet. Without the natural greenhouse effect, Earth would not be able to support the magnificent large diversity of life it currently supports. However, the enhanced greenhouse effect is something which contributors must be aware of. It is easy to become oblivious agricultural effects on Earth and to look past the semi-permanent damage it causes.
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It is normal for the earth’s temperature to fluctuate. However, in the last century alone the planet’s temperature has risen unusually fast. Although many do not believe it, scientists have proven that algaculture activities are largely to blame for climate change. Farmers must thoroughly investigate how their contribution leads to the actuality of climate change, how it impacts them, and lastly what can be done to deal with this going forward.
The greenhouse effect is a natural process that occurs when gases in the Earth’s atmosphere trap the sun’s heat. Although it is a natural process, algaculture activities such as burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), farming has increased the concentrations of greenhouse gases. According to Canadian Scientific reports farmers also utilize nitrous oxide through their use of synthetic fertilizers (Canada Scientific Achievements in Agriculture 2019). In the research that has been done by the government of Canada reveals that “…to produce bio-energy can help partly replace fossil fuels and using agricultural wastes to generate energy are additional examples of ways to reduce GHG emissions” ( Reducing agricultural emissions). This shows that maximizing energy efficiency and shifting away from fossil fuels are important steps that farmers can take to reduce their effect on climate change. This can also include on-farm renewable energy production such as solar panels and wind turbines to reduce energy use.
The agriculture is continuing to damage the Earth by consuming the most water as well. The data scientist Tariq Khokhar mentions that “In most regions of the world, over 70 percent of freshwater is used for agriculture” (Globally,70% of fresh water is used for agriculture). To alleviate this problem farmers can build ponds to capture and store rainfall for use throughout the year. Aside from farmer’s building ponds, there are many ways of water conservation practices, such as planting a buffer of trees and bushes along streams and rivers to prevent erosion and contamination from crop runoff. Smart water management is also another technique that farmers can use to deliver their water to their crops. To avoid under- or overwatering their crops, farmers can carefully monitor the weather forecast, as well as soil and plant moisture, and adapt their irrigation schedule to the current conditions. Furthermore, it is imperative that farmers should be aware of how to utilize their energy use.
In addition, The forests act as carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide, hence deforestation contributes to the massing CO2 levels. An alarming one-fifth of greenhouse gas pollution directly comes from forestation (Natural Resources Canada, Forest Carbon 2016). In terms of climate change, cutting trees both adds carbon dioxide to the air and removes the ability to absorb existing carbon dioxide. Trees have a lot of benefits on farms. They can act as windbreaks, reducing soil erosion, enrich the soil, filter water, which can result in higher water quality, they create habitat for wildlife and wildlife corridors, they suck up and store greenhouse gasses and the list goes on. Based on Wageningen University research “Agriculture is estimated to be the direct driver for around 80% of deforestation worldwide” (Agriculture is the direct driver for worldwide deforestation). This is evident that conversion from forest to cropland produces a significant amount of greenhouse gas emission. Planting trees instead of cutting them is a contributor to alleviate climate change.
Recently an engineer has discovered a technology where they use recycled cell phones to monitor chainsaws. In the article “Your Old Cell Phone Can Help Save the Rain Forest” by Christina Nunez the author mentions how Topher White who is an engineer and has developed a system which can detect illegal logging and send message “to authorities who can determine if it’s illegal and then stop it”( Your Old Cell Phone Can Help Save the Rain Forest). Moreover, in Tanzania people have planted thousands of trees to fight against climate change. In the article “This island was on the brink of disaster” Sarah Gibbens the author mentions “more than two million trees have been planted there and on Kokota”( This island was on the brink of disaster). Planting tree preserves local food sources, protects wildlife habitat, and promotes biodiversity, among other climate-friendly impacts.
On the climate front, trees, shrubs, and other woody vegetation also store carbon in their biomass, protect the soil from erosion, and conserve water. Given this information, it is necessary that farmers should deeply explore all the ways they can change to avoid these frightening irreversible effects of global warming.
Furthermore, the governments are actively working on creating plans to change the direction the Earth is heading in due to global warming. In many countries around the world, the governments are taking action in limiting and educating farmers when it comes to fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. There are many ways to support climate-friendly farming on the ground but reducing the damage of climate change and building climate resilience will require major policy changes. Canadian federal and provincial ministers of agriculture, including administrative, legislative, and budgetary are taking actions to support farmland conservation, healthy soils, water stewardship, renewable energy, and other sustainable practices. Based “OECD Meeting of Agriculture Ministers” that took place in France it was mentioned “Further investment in research and development (R&D) is needed to spur innovation that can improve sustainable productivity growth. ”(2).
Governments obtain large amounts of income from algaculture. However, there is uncertainty about how to control nitrous oxide emissions from crop production. Therefore, the only prescription for getting more knowledge is to hire a research team to investigate this problem. Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has introduced a program called the “Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change”.
The focus of this program has been to assist rural communities and farmers in adapting to changes in economic policies and Canada’s emissions reduction target. While the program is mainly aimed at climate change, there is potential to use it to have agriculture adapt to more than just economic policies.
At the moment, the issue of climate change is viewed only from the mitigation perspective, in terms of agriculture’s capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and act as a carbon sink. As it was mentioned in the OECD Meeting of Agriculture Ministers “Policies that aim to address climate change should emphasize outcome-based farmer incentives and knowledge transfer systems”(2). Since Climate change is expected to negatively affect both crop and livestock production systems in most countries. Farmers should be aware of what to expect. Moreover, the changing climate is also adding to resource problems, such as water scarcity, pollution, and soil degradation.
Despite uncertainties and varying feelings regarding global warming, the facts remain in place and if the farmers don’t act now, they are only doing a disservice to themselves. It is urgent to recognize how human activities have contributed to the actuality of global warming, how it impacts them, and lastly what change can be implemented moving forward to not cause any further damage to their planet.
If the necessary steps are taken now, a lot of the damage that could be caused by global warming can be alleviated. Humans can regulate greenhouse gases by increasing funding for developing cheap renewable sources of energy, reducing organic wastes, and produce all-new infrastructures as net-zero energy ready. However, they should not fully rely on global politics and clean energy technology. Farmers have several tools to help them accomplish the climate change, it is now up to them to utilize it.