The triad of global warming, soy production and loss of tropical forest

…While the study looks at the impact of global warming on crop production, the actual encroachment on the tropical forest in the Mato Grosso for crops and pasture, which have replaced large areas of the regions natural ecosystems including tropical for cerrado (tropical savannah), pantanal (tropical wetland) and rainforest, is in itself contributing to global warming. In fact, the Brazilian Amazonia is one of the world’s great storehouses of biomass and biodiversity, which if left in tact would help absorb the very carbon emissions that are contributing to global warming, not to mention the habitat destruction tropical species, many not yet discovered.

And to add further insult to injury, most of this increased demand for soybeans is not for human consumption, but rather to feed animals being raised as food. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that “between 1961 and 2009, global soy production expanded nearly 10-fold and it has doubled since the mid-1990s.” They estimate that 400 m2 of land is needed to grow enough feed to produce the meat and eggs that the average European eats per year. “Approximately 75% of soybean is used for animal feed”.

If carnists would stop eating chickens, eggs, cows and pigs, the world would need only a fraction of the soybeans currently being grown, which in turn would dramatically reduce the encroachment on some of the world’s most critical rainforest and biomass.

The triad of global warming, soy production and loss of tropical forest

A new study published in Nature Climate Change, estimated the impact that an average temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius would have on agricultural output in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

Mato Grosso is a high plateau region in southwestern Brazil that forms a watershed between the Amazon and Plate river systems. Today, it is Brazil’s leading soybean region, having more than doubled the amount of land used for crops, mostly soybeans and sugar cane, over the last 20 years. The report in ‘News from Brown’ [University] describes this region as “an emerging global breadbasket that as of 2013 supplied 10% of the world’s soybeans”.

Leading researchers from Tufts and Brown Universities, looked at both how climate change might affect crop yields, as well as its impact on the amount of land farmed and the number of crops planted each growing season. Most studies previously only looked at crop yields, which may be significantly underestimating the total impact global warming will have on the world’s food supply.

The researchers monitored the regions agricultural production from 2002 to 2008, measuring how variations in temperature and precipitation affected output. The information gathered over this eight year period, helped the team make predictions about the sensitivity of agriculture to future climate change.

What they found based on this data, is that an increase of just 1 degree Celsius “will lead to a nine to 13 percent reduction in overall production of soy and corn.” Avery Cohn, as assistant professor of environment and resource policy at Tufts, warned that this is particularly “worrisome given that the temperature in the study region is predicted to rise by as much as 2 degrees by midcentury under the range of plausible greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.”

But the study looked beyond the climate impact on crop yield, to other social and economic changes. An example being if land ceases to produce enough to be profitable, famers may react by allocating less land for planting and/or by varying the number of crops planted per season. Through the use of satellite imagery, the researchers were able to determine, the change in cropland and incidence when more than one crop was planted per season. Basically, cropland areas turned green during the growing season and then quickly became brown, at harvest time. Two “green-ups” in the same growing season indicated two crops per season.

They were able to show that “temperature increases of 1 degree Celsius were associated with substantial decreases in both total crop area and double cropping. In fact, those decreases accounted for 70 percent of the overall loss in production found in the study. Only 30 percent was attributable to crop yield.” In essence, the impact of global warming, based solely on crop yield, may be underestimating the impact on overall crop production by as much as two-thirds.

While the study looks at the impact of global warming on crop production, the actual encroachment on the tropical forest in the Mato Grosso for crops and pasture, which have replaced large areas of the regions natural ecosystems including tropical for cerrado (tropical savannah), pantanal (tropical wetland) and rainforest, is in itself contributing to global warming. In fact, the Brazilian Amazonia is one of the world’s great storehouses of biomass and biodiversity, which if left in tact would help absorb the very carbon emissions that are contributing to global warming, not to mention the habitat destruction tropical species, many not yet discovered.

And to add further insult to injury, most of this increased demand for soybeans is not for human consumption, but rather to feed animals being raised as food. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports that “between 1961 and 2009, global soy production expanded nearly 10-fold and it has doubled since the mid-1990s.” They estimate that 400 m2 of land is needed to grow enough feed to produce the meat and eggs that the average European eats per year. “Approximately 75% of soybean is used for animal feed”.

If carnists would stop eating chickens, eggs, cows and pigs, the world would need only a fraction of the soybeans currently being grown, which in turn would dramatically reduce the encroachment on some of the world’s most critical rainforest and biomass.

 

http://www.gruntvegan.com/

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