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How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future

How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future thumbnail

As you eat your next meal, ask yourself if you really know what you’re eating – not just the ingredients or where they came from, but what has gone into them. How much land was needed? How much water was used? How much energy was required? We need to ask ourselves these questions, because how we produce, consume and, sadly, waste food poses a massive threat to our future.

The 2018 edition of WWF’s Living Planet Report has just been published, and the news isn’t good. The Living Planet Index shows an average decline of 60% in population sizes of vertebrate species between 1970 and 2014. The dominant cause, along with overexploitation of our resources, is the food system.

The food system is Earth’s biggest user of land, taking up 34% of the planet. Our unrelenting quest for more food is hampering our planet’s ability to sustain itself. The production of crops such as sugar cane, soybean and palm oil has led directly to the clearing of 40% of the world’s once-forested land. The food system also uses 69% of all freshwater. The pursuit of popular commodities is draining aquifers and depriving communities of traditional water sources, such as in Petorca, Chile, where avocado farming has exploded to meet overseas demand. The food system is also the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, producing around 25%.

Our food footprint grows, while we squander a third of all we produce. Yes, one-third of the food we grow is never eaten. It is lost on farms and in the supply chain, or simply thrown away. It’s not just nutrients or money that goes in the bin, but also the water, energy and land that went into producing the food.

With land being converted from its natural state and adversely affected by climate change, 75% of the world’s terrestrial ecosystems are seriously impacted by land degradation. Within that, cropland makes up 18% of already degraded land and 20% of degrading land. And because the land we already use for agriculture is underperforming, we’re increasing the pressure to convert more habitats.

Tied to degraded land, the health of our soil is a bigger threat than most would realize. Approximately one-quarter of all life on Earth exists underneath our feet. But poor agricultural practices and climate change are damaging this vital resource. Over-tillage, lack of crop rotation and unsustainable agri-inputs have combined to ensure we’ve lost 30% of our topsoil in the past 150 years. Not only does this erosion represent a vanishing home for numerous species, it also exacerbates climate change. The depletion of soil organic carbon has resulted in the release of as much as 4.4 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. In a vicious circle, the rising temperatures we’re experiencing further dry and degrade soils, and leave them simply to blow away in the wind.

Soil erosion isn’t the only way in which our food system is cannibalizing itself. Bees and other pollinators critical to global food security are also under increasing threat. Although 75% of global food crops benefit from pollination, intensive agricultural practices, along with climate change and invasive species, have dramatically impacted the abundance, diversity and health of pollinators.

Likewise with fish. FAO has estimated that fisheries and aquaculture alone assure the livelihoods of 10-12% of the world’s population, and that 4.3 billion people are reliant on fish for 15% of their animal protein intake. But overfishing is decimating our fish stocks, 93% of which are overfished or at critical limits.

This paints a bleak picture. But there is hope. We have the opportunity to transform our food system. We can evolve to a new way of producing, consuming and valuing food: Food 2.0.

Wildlife populations under pressure
Image: WWF Living Planet Index 2018

Firstly, as consumers, we can influence the way food is produced by changing the way we eat. This involves moving to “balanced and better” diets, in which we eat a broad range of sustainably produced foods. It will look different in different parts of the world, as it’s impacted by what’s available. The focus must be on nutritious, fresh and local produce. Eating within national dietary guidelines is a largely achievable goal. It’s not only better for people, but also likely better for the planet.

We must also allow nothing to go to waste. That means shopping, cooking and serving more smartly. This applies to businesses too. Research from Champions 12.3 has shown that there is a business case for private sector transformation: for every $1 invested in preventing food waste, businesses can enjoy up to $14 of savings. More businesses are rectifying their wasteful approaches, including by using the WWF Hotel Kitchen methodology of “measure-prevent-divert”.

Looking at our food system from “planet to plate” calls for improving technical approaches at the farm level. By managing existing farmland better, we can restore soil quality, optimize productivity and bring disused land back into production. This reduces the need to convert forests, savannahs and mangroves. Working with the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, an impact investment fund that blends resources from the private, public and philanthropic sectors, WWF is currently identifying projects with the potential for most impact on productivity and reducing pressures. We’re also working hand-in-hand with farmers, from Paraguay to Zambia to Indonesia, to introduce climate-smart agriculture with diversification of produce, crop rotation and sustainable inputs. This improves more than just soil health –it also improves food security and livelihoods.

To protect biodiversity, we must adopt landscape and seascape-scale planning and management to improve habitat variety and connectivity. The inclusion of non-agricultural habitats within land management plans can minimize species loss, boost populations and improve ecosystem services. WWF is working in several key landscapes and seascapes, including the Cerrado in Brazil, which is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity.

Right now, the food system is eating up our world. We must make the changes that get us back to where the food system nourishes us all – people and planet. If we don’t transform the system, we won’t be able to feed everyone. Worse still, we may not have a planet. We must aim higher. Stakeholders must come together and work more closely across sectors, and with greater urgency, to integrate decision-making that will protect our planet and achieve a new deal for nature and people.

The 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt in November could be our chance. More than 190 countries are meeting at what is being seen as the most important conference for nature. This offers us an unparalleled opportunity. From now until 2020 may be a decisive period in history. The time to act is now.


73 Comments on "How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future"

  1. Эй, братья, пожалуйста, ударьте антиамериканскую собаку, которую я сделал из гранитного форума on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 11:35 am 

    not supertard obv.
    i wish i have 10,000 acres all leveled and cleared with grass and a nice tractor. i’d fit it with wifi extender, laptop, cooler, radio, musics, tvs. i’d move water around and my goats follow. that’s qualifies as lazy man farming but not the kind i invented

  2. JuanP on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 11:39 am 

    in the first degree God enters into the soul and she turns inward into herself. in the second she ascends above herself and is lifted up to God. in the third the soul, lifted up to God, passes over altogether into Him. in the fourth the soul goes forth on God’s behalf and decends bellow herself

  3. Davy on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 1:04 pm 

    “Rock And A Hard Place? EU Backs Limited Iran Sanctions Over Paris Bomb Plot”

    “The ministers said technical work could now start on an EU-wide asset freeze on two Iranians and the Iranian intelligence service over a failed plot to carry out a bomb attack at a rally near Paris organized by an exiled Iranian opposition group. This comes simultaneous ongoing Danish investigation after police uncovered another alleged plot involving a wide-ranging assassination plot in his soil. Denmark has since pushed for similar EU-wide sanctions, according to diplomats. Sanctions on Iran intelligence agencies which investigators are pointing the finger to would be tantamount to anti-government sanctions, and could lead to a further breakdown in attempts by both sides to keep trade relations alive as US sanctions peel away foreign companies from maintaining a presence in Iran. Iran for its part has insisted both the bomb and assassination plots are fabrications and has called for talks. Iranian media and commentators have long pointed the finger at Israeli Mossad as well as anti-Iran western linked groups such as the MEK for essentially staging ‘false flag’ operations at the most sensitive moments in which Iran is trying to keep its suffering economy afloat.”

  4. cles on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 1:24 pm 

    please Juan, the mono-theistic gods are a way of the past.
    Juan : “lifted up to God, passes over altogether into Him”

    Please show me some way this monotheistic god is helping us

    Man has taken over Gods jobs when it comes to climate, environment and the survival of species

  5. claes on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 2:09 pm 

    Juan :The basic problem is that the origin of consciousness is unclear.
    Most people say that they got it from a god, while some few feel that they don’t owe this particular ability to any body else, but they own it by them selves.
    This whole problem about the ownership of human consciousness is what religious wars have been all about, and in modern times it’s about political ideologies fighting each others.

  6. JuanP on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 2:43 pm 

    Claes, its just poetry quit being philosophical and enjoy

  7. claes on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 3:10 pm 

    Juan :All right, so you are just throwing around fake spiritual good bits for the fun of it.
    Maybe you ARE stealing davy’s identity too. You don’t seem to care too much about fake comments
    Please be serious about your self

  8. JuanP on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 4:02 pm 

    Delusional Davy “You are a loon dirty Juan. You rank at the top of extreme and bias.”
    Your projections betray your nature with perfect clarity, Exceptionalist! LOL!

  9. JuanP on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 4:08 pm 

    Claes, that is not me. I was raised a Catholic, and have been an agnostic for around 40 years since I stopped believing in churches and gods. I couldn’t care less about imaginary creatures; I don’t care if people believe in fairies, orks, gods, or demons.

    Again, I am gone for a day and come back to find people using my name and Davy fighting with his shadow. This site is hilarious.

  10. Davy on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 4:16 pm 

    Sure dirty Juan you identity theft pussy. You are the sites biggest moron stealing identities for selfish narcissistic purposes then on top of that rarely offering a real comment.

  11. claes on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 4:27 pm 

    Ritual exchange of insults seems to be the order of the day here on pukeoil.
    Who ever is behind this will be send a memorandum to their parents and further action might be taken.

  12. makati1 on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 5:11 pm 

    claes, there is just one instigator and he is Davy. All else is spinoff from his delusions, bullying and immaturity over the years.

    The site owner apparently doesn’t care if he ruins the site. He, like the terrorist, child killing country he supports, cannot build, only destroy. Most of us here would like both to be taken down.

  13. Davy on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 5:17 pm 

    billy, wakes up and first comment he makes is a shit disturbing one. You are not quite as bad as dirty juan. You do present comments with content even though the package is slimy with hate and resentment. You love this identity theft don’t you. You stupid senile old man

  14. Claes on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 5:39 pm 

    Hey MAK , as usual , it’s your comments that are the most interresting. Like this:
    “The site owner apparently doesn’t care if he ruins the site.”

    WHO is the site owner ?

  15. Anonymouse on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 6:54 pm 

    I thought you were blaming ‘greggiejuan’ exclusively for the alleged ‘identity theft’ racket that you are running with your sock puppet, exceptionaltard. I suppose it hardly matters one way or the other to you, as you’ll latch onto any excuse to fling your goatshit as far and wide as you can.


  16. makati1 on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 6:57 pm 

    Claes, I have no clue, do you? He/She must have some ulterior motive than just publishing oily/energy/etc subjects.

  17. claes on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 8:24 pm 

    Mak, I guess they/him/her/that have a pretty good knowledge about how the peoples deepest political feelings are.
    Naah , just joking, Here on this site, they have a complete check on how old desillusioned, alcoholised men think this world should be run .
    Basicallly they could go down the pub and hear the same.But there you go

  18. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 8:55 pm 

    Attention Doomie preppers and permies!

    Go try to be a prepper in a place without the rule of law and a prosperous society like Syria..Lets see how long you can last.


  19. makati1 on Mon, 19th Nov 2018 9:21 pm 

    MOB, you live in a country without the “rule of law” unless you are wealthy. Do you want me to post recent articles proving my assertions?

    If you live in a rule of law country, why is Hillary and her molesting husband still on the street?

    Why was no one put in jail for the billions stolen in the last economic crash? Theft is legal, if you are rich.

    How can police stop anyone and confiscate their stuff illegally and not go to jail? (Billions of dollars every year.)

    I could go on and on. You read about it daily, yet you pretend you live in a “rule of law” country. LMAO.

  20. Cloggie on Tue, 20th Nov 2018 12:42 am 

    Richard Spencer Beat His Pregnant Wife, Kept Her Sleep-Deprived, Divorce Filings Allege

    That’s what all modern women do to prepare for a divorce battle and create the pretext to own the kids. they know they will win anyway, ask our resident tard.

    The most likely truth is that the poor thang from Russia wasn’t prepared for a life next to Richard Spencer, who is forced to sleep with a gun next to his bed, just in case. America is the most leftist country on earth, filled with Marxist harpies a la “I am the mob”:

    Here is Spencer himself explaining what happened to his marriage:



    And as always, millikike can say these things without anybody defending white America! Americans are such pussies. It looks like Europe will have to clean up the mess once again, like in 1776.

  21. makati1 on Tue, 20th Nov 2018 5:40 pm 

    “Why Does America Have 13 Million Households That Don’t Have Enough Food To Eat?”

    “Have you ever had a day when your children were crying due to hunger but the cupboards were completely bare and your bank account was empty? If you haven’t, you should consider yourself to be extremely blessed, because this is what real life feels like for millions upon millions of Americans in 2018.”

    Slip slidin’…

  22. Davy on Tue, 20th Nov 2018 6:38 pm 

    “Why Does America Have 13 Million Households That Don’t Have Enough Food To Eat?”

    What is the number of malnourished in the P’s billy?

    “PressReader – Manila Bulletin: 2018-04-17 – Malnutrition: A gnawing …”

    “Provided there is no severe food shortage, the prevalence of wasting is usually below five percent, even in poor countries.” On stunting, the Philippines has 30.3 % prevalence and is at 88th spot out of 132 countries also ranked lowest to highest in the 2016 Global Nutrition Report.Apr 17, 2018”

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