Slash Meat Consumption and Avert Climate Catastrophe by 2050, Major Report Proposes
By Jessica Corbett
To feed the growing human population—projected to reach about 10 billion by 2050—while curbing planet-warming emissions to ward off climate catastrophe, people across the globe must significantly cut back on eating meat from cows, sheep and goats, according to a new study out Wednesday.
Limits on meat-eating are among 22 proposals from the report that, if simultaneously enacted, could achieve "meeting growing demands for food, avoiding deforestation, and reforesting or restoring abandoned and unproductive land—and in ways that help stabilize the climate, promote economic development, and reduce poverty."
Unveiled at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, Creating a Sustainable Food Future was produced by WRI in partnership with the World Bank, UN Environment, UN Development Program and a pair of French agricultural research agencies.
Attaining a "sustainable food future," the report says, will require closing three gaps:
- The food gap: the difference between the amount of food produced now and what will be needed by 2050;
- The land gap: the difference between agricultural land today and what will be required to produce enough food to feed the world's growing population; and
- The greenhouse gas mitigation gap: the difference in planet-warming emissions expected to result from land use in 2050 and worldwide goals to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial temperatures.
Regardless of which solutions are pursued to close these gaps, the need for action is apparent.
As Tim Searchinger of the WRI and Princeton University put it, "If we tried to produce all the food needed in 2050 using today's production systems, the world would have to convert most of its remaining forest, and agriculture alone would produce almost twice the emissions allowable from all human activities."
While the report suggests that 2 billion people in countries that include Brazil, Russia and the U.S. cut their beef and lamb consumption by 40 percent—a lower reduction that some other studies have recommended—Searchinger told the Guardian, "We think that is a realistic goal," especially considering that "in the U.S. and Europe, beef consumption has already reduced by one-third from the 1960s until today."
The 22 proposals outlined in the report are divided into a "five-course menu":
There is no silver bullet to achieve a #sustfoodfuture - we need to adopt all items on a five-course menu of soluti… https://t.co/EOY9Qe05gV— World Resources Inst (@World Resources Inst)1544011812.0
"We have to change how we produce and consume food, not just for environmental reasons, but because this is an existential issue for humans," concluded Janet Ranganathan, report co-author and WRI's vice president for science and research.
The synthesis report mirrors previous findings, including a study published by Nature in October which called for overhauling the world's current food system by shifting toward more plant-based diets, improving technologies and management, and slashing global food waste.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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