Food, Climate and Environment
Almost all this content is taken from the National Food Strategy . Quoting the science on climate and environmental impacts of how we source our food, it has a difficult job to do. However, it provides excellent information to help us change our diets.
You need not become vegan or even vegetarian but eating less meat, especially lamb and beef has a huge impact on how much food we can produce for people.
Currently, we produce far more food than we need, partly because we feed much of it to the animals we eat.
We may no longer live in balance with the natural world but we are still part of it, and totally reliant on it for everything we have.
Land use change and overfishing have put unimaginable pressure on our natural environment. Throughout human history Nature has managed provide for our needs but now this pressure is the greatest threat to global biodiversity. Key remaining ecosystems like the Amazon are showing signs of failure with massive implications for food availability around the world.
Agriculture and how we do it
With current agriculture
Climate is STILL NOT the biggest pressure on Nature
The climate is changing faster than nature can adapt but the greatest pressure on natural systems remains how we use it and how much we pollute it.
"It is widely accepted that the UK’s biodiversity had been massively depleted by centuries of habitat loss, management changes, development and persecution" (State of Nature Report, UK Summary 2019)
More land than we can spare
We are using more land to produce the food we eat than we have in the UK in total, and meat production represents the vast majority of that.
Food coming from other countries is not governed by our relatively strong environmental regulation and can drive deforestation and damaging land use in areas such as the Amazon
Difficult to change
Agriculture is a difficult sector to decarbonise and has the widest impact of any sector affecting land, rivers and ocean habitats. It dominates the impact that we have on the environment through land use change.
We need to build biodiversity in the UK so we can be resilient to climate change. Natural systems and biodiversity provide us with clean drinking water, productive; rivers, lakes and seas. It also provide us with pollinators and predators that help crops grow and keep pest species under control. The degradation of the UK landscape also means there is massive potential locked up in our countryside.
Many of the worst areas for producing food are the best suited for building back biodiversity:
How and what food we produce has a massive impact on how much biodiversity our country can support.
Meat and dairy production have a much greater impact on biodiversity and emissions than plant based foods. Cutting them out or reducing them in your diet will have a significant impact on climate, biodiversity and the amount of food we can produce for people.
How we produce food will change but what will that look like?
Diet and Health
How we and where we produce our food has huge implications for human health too
Heart Disease and Diabetes
Too much meat is associated with increased rates of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, but there is also convincing evidence that red and processed meat can cause cancer.
As we clear land to grow food we reduce land available for wildlife. This puts us more in contact with diseases from wild animal populations not yet encountered by humans and increases the risk of disease pandemics.
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