The World Watch Institute has published a great article explaining the complex way in which our U.S. agricultural system – and by extension the food systems of the rest of the western world – contribute to global carbon emissions.
Is Local Food Better? by Sarah DeWeerdt – published in the latest issue of World Watch magazine – explains that miles traveled by our food from farm to table are not the whole story in calculating the contribution of agriculture to carbon dioxide emissions.
Food delivery from farms and factories to your table accounts for only 4 percent of the U.S. food system’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the article.
More emissions come from the transport of fertilizer, pesticides, and animal feed. When these extra activities are considered, ‘food miles’ account for about 11 percent of carbon emissions, writes DeWeerdt.
Climate scientists – true experts, who study our world’s complicated climate using computer models and other tools of science – are now in near unanimous agreement that human-caused carbon emissions are causing Earth to warm. Meanwhile, only about half of non-experts (other sorts of scientists, the public) believe human-caused emissions are the problem. Those results come from a study by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman released in the January 2009 issue of EOS. Good explanation of that study here.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.