“About 75% of land and 66% of ocean areas have been “significantly altered” by people, driven in large part by the production of food, according to the IPBES report, which will be released in full later this year. Crop and livestock operations currently co-opt more than 33% of Earth’s land surface and 75% of its freshwater resources. Agricultural activities are also some of the largest contributors to human emissions of greenhouse gases.”
The IPBES points out the risks to the planet and consequently to ourselves, that current human activity is generating. Unsustainable agriculture along with lifestyles are leading to an enormous percentage of food being wasted resulting in high inefficiencies in land usage plus in the food value chain, approximately 58% of its waste occurs during from production to distribution, the residual 42% is wasted due to human’s consumption habits. 79% of food waste occurs in Europe and North America. On average, each European and each North American wastes between 95-115 kg per year, the big wastage occurs with cereals, fruits and vegetables, according to FAO lastest’s available report. On the Spanish Tomatina day 145 tons of tomato are wasted yearly on the streets for fun, most probably these tomatoes have been produced under an EU subsidy scheme, “Giving pearls to pigs” a Portuguese proverb would apply here. Why is food wasted for fun when so many could have a better meal if those tomatoes would be given to them? Why do people pay tickets to get into that party instead of raising money for more ethical purposes?
Other food waste solutions like producing energy also seem quite unethical to me, when 1/9 people in the world are undernourished, according to UN data. Why wouldn’t a better solution for food waste be found when one of the global challenges is producing enough food for a growing population while maintaining the ecosystems, reducing GHG and land usage? Why using it to generate electricity when it can be generated from sustainable sources?
Changing consumers eating habits as well as improving agriculture along with its value chain is essential. Circular Economy examples are popping up with non-commercial food being reused in healthy productive processes. More of those are needed.
Note: The author has originally published this post on LinkedIn on the 9th of May 2019
As it is broadly known, the world needs to reduce the GHG emissions it is constantly generating. It needs to do so at both macro and micro levels, but always with international cooperation. The negative externalities the linear economic models and lifestyle generate, are too big. They lead to an unsustainable system, not only because the poor air quality needs to improve, as shown by deteriorating health conditions but also because biodiversity needs to be preserved, along with responsible production and consumption, so the Planet’s ecosystems carry its function and allow us all, the Human Beings, to live properly.
The Sustainable Developments Goals set by the UN in 2015 and signed by 193 countries, give guidance to all actors (governments, businesses, finance, and civil society) in achieving long term wellbeing to all via collaborative action of those actors in social equality, health and environmental protection and preservation. As some studies have shown, an equal and educated world leads to better performing businesses and governance. So, why do so many people keep attached to medieval models avoiding development to be achieved at a faster pace? Some economic sectors have moved away from that.
The energy sector is transforming itself via technological improvements and innovations, reducing the energy input needed to obtain the same or higher outcome but with simultaneous environmental gains. As one of the biggest GHG emissions contributor it is shifting its production model towards cleaner energy production as part of the Paris Agreement commitment to tackle Climate Change. As the recent IPCC report showed, further GHG reductions will make a substantial difference in reducing global warming by 0.5°C, mitigating more Climate Change impacts.
The SDG 7 – Affordable and cleaner energy to all – will allow reductions on energy poverty (currently 12.5% of world’s population don’t have energy access according to IEA), GHG emissions and inequalities, along with improvements in world development, education level, and wellbeing. The Sustainable Development scenario in the IEA World Outlook 2018 report states that an integrated reliable energy supply system is possible in the near future – an energy mix transformation quite predictable given the current changes. This accelerated transition will occur at a yearly economic cost of $2 trillion, as estimated by the IEA, with 70% of it being supported by governments. This report calls attention for the energy costs to supply fresh water for all, a basic need not all human beings have entirely fulfilled and addressed by the SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation.
Note: A similar post was originally written and posted by the author on LinkedIn on the 13th of November 2018.
Welcome to SustainAbility in habit, a shared space aiming to grow our ability to sustain the resources our Planet has gifted us with. I hope you enjoy the first and future readings!
The Planet we inhabit has suffered multiple changes and adaptations throughout its history. In the Blog pictures section, you’ll find a graphic I’ve created from different scientific sources, illustrating the main events occurred in the Cenozoic and the Industrial age, including the Anthropocene, along with carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration levels in the atmosphere.
Scientific research along with deep analysis and calculations of Carbon Dioxide concentration in sea water, showed that relatively small changes in Carbon Dioxide concentration leads to exponential changes in surface temperature, due to absorption of outgoing radiation of CO2.
The low CO2 concentration levels during the different Cenozoic’s epochs lead to the cooling of Planet, with the formation and expansion of the Antarctic ice sheet, to the approximate levels known in the Anthropocene. The volcanic activity is one of the factors driving the surge of CO2 Atmospheric levels. Cenozoic’s global warming was reached around 54 million years ago, with CO2 concentration in the interval of 700-900 p.p.m. Scientists attribute the high variability in CO2 concentration levels to the instability of the carbon system during warm periods, but also some possible error in the level of ocean water acidity.
The Anthropocene evidence is of raising CO2 levels along with constant raise in temperatures and continuous reduction of the Antarctica ice sheet level. The Artic has also been melting along with multiple glaciers across the Planet, one of the most well -knowns is the Perito Moreno in the southern hemisphere, not far from Antarctica. If you’ve been there, you know the sound of falling ice blocks is quite impressive and heart breaking! The milky water is beautiful though! I wonder how walking on the glacier is still allowed and a touristic attraction! Our Planet has been changing because most of the humankind has taken an irresponsible approach to the resources the Planet gifted Humankind with. Yet, this approach was not thinking much about the future generations.
As Climate Change effects are hardly deniable with the increase in the frequency of extreme weather events, the wildfires across the globe from California, to Europe and Australia, what steps have you taken in your life to add your grain of sand to new beach we are building? Is it good sand?