By 2050 it is predicted that the global population will increase by about a third to 8.5–10 billion. This will put enormous pressures on the global food system and contribute significantly to climate change. The global food system also drives changes in land use, causes depletion of freshwater resources, and increases pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through the application of fertilisers. The expected changes in population in conjunction with and typical Western consumption patterns for food indicate will have impacts that are very likely to go beyond the planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity. In other words; by 2050, Earth may be very hostile for many of us.
Reducing food loss and waste is one measure for reducing food demand and the associated environmental impacts. It is estimated that more than a third of all food that is produced is lost before it reaches the market, or is wasted by households. Reducing food loss and waste would obviously reduce environmental pressures. Combining that simple act with technological changes improving efficiency of production would reduce the demand for cropland and further reduce the associated problems of water use, fertiliser application and greenhouse gas emission.
It is now well known that the production of meat as a foodstuff generates over 70% of the total food-related greenhouse gas emissions! Changes in meat consumption by moving away from meat to plants as food reduces the environmental impact of the food system.
No one single measure will be enough to tackle climate change; changes in every contributing element need to be acknowledged and implemented. The good news is that one of the easier changes we can all make is towards more plant-based diets, reduction in food loss and food waste. Those simple measures, in conjunction with adopting technological food production will contribute massively to tackling the problem of climate change.
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