The main factor that drives the natural world’s destruction is the international food system, as per a recent Chatham House report. The report also says that a change to mainly plant-based food eating patterns is vital in stopping that damage.
The primary threat to 24,080 species thought to be in danger of extinction is agriculture, according to that report. With no change, biodiversity loss will keep accelerating and threatening the world’s capability of sustaining humanity, as per it.
The basic reason is a dangerous cheap food circle where low prices drive a greater requirement for food as well as more waste. More competition drives costs down even further through more natural land clearing as well as greater utilization of polluting fertilizers and pesticides.
This report, backed by the United Nations Environment Programme, highlighted three solutions. One of those is a change to the said plant-based meal eating patterns since livestock has the biggest environmental impact.
Over 80% of international farmland is for raising animals, which offer just 18% of the total calories consumed. Reversing the growing meat consumption trend eliminates the pressure for not only clearing new parcels of land but further damaging wildlife as well. It also makes existing land available to be used for another solution, which is to restore native ecosystems for more biodiversity than now.
The land availability underpins the other solution, which is practicing agriculture less intensively and less damagingly yet settling for lower yields. As per the report, yields of organic crops are around 75% of the yields through traditional intensive farming.
Fixing the food system worldwide would address the so-called climate crisis, too, said the UNEP-backed report. That food system accounts for around 30% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; animals are the source of over half of those emissions. Changes in food manufacturing could address the illness of 3 million individuals, who either do not have enough food to consume or are obese.
The director of the UNEP Ecosystems Division, Susan Gardner, described the present food system as a ‘double-edged sword’. Gardner termed it thus, as it offers cheap food yet does not account for the hidden effects on human health and the natural world. As per Gardner, reforming how we make and eat food is a prime concern.
As for the popular conservationist, Jane Goodall, raising millions of animals intensively for food, considerably damages the environment. At the same time, the crowded conditions in farms run the risk of new epidemics crossing into individuals, Goodall said.