Climate change impacts, and is impacted by, food production: a paradox

Steven Lam

As emphasized in my previous post, there is growing scientific consensus that the world’s climate is changing (1). Though the timing and extent of such changes are likely to vary from one place to another, climate change undeniably impacts food production and health worldwide. With extreme temperatures, droughts, and floods, overall crop productivity decreases while food scarcity and malnutrition increases (2–5). Without investment in climate change adaptation, food-related deaths will far exceed all other climate-related human health effects (6).

But, does food production also impact climate change?

In the Canadian context, most of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from the energy sector (81%), with the agriculture sector contributing 8%. However, considering other emissions of the food system (e.g. manufacturing inputs, transportation, disposal of food waste), total emissions add up to nearly 30%. These emissions generally come from on farms, either from livestock manure or from the fields themselves. Some…

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