Earth could ‘cease to support human life’ by 2050 if people keep eating meat and wasting food, report warns
- Scientists say the world can feed its growing population without causing harm
- Livestock responsible for about 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions
- World needs to produce 50 per cent more food to support 10 billion people
The world needs to cut its meat consumption and stop wasting food for the planet to continue to support human life, a new study has found.
Scientists said the world could feed its growing population without causing irreparable damage to the environment if people ate less meat, halved food waste and adopted better farming practices.
Failure to implement these actions could exacerbate climate change, increase pollution and deplete natural resources.
Scientists have said that people need to cut down on the amount of meat that they eat in order to keep the planet working properly
This is turn could make the planet ‘unsafe for humanity’, according to an international team of researchers.
The analysis suggested that the environmental impacts of the food system could increase markedly owing to expected changes in food consumption and production, and, in the absence of targeted measures, would exceed planetary boundaries to the extent that key ecosystem processes could become at risk of ‘being destabilised’.
Lead author of the study, which is the first to take a comprehensive look at the impact gloval food production has on the planet, Marco Springmann, said that no single solution is enough to avoid crossing planetary boundaries.
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‘But when the solutions are implemented together, our research indicates that it may be possible to feed the growing population sustainably’.
It is estimated that the world needs to produce 50 per cent more food to support nearly 10 billion people by 2050, the United Nations says.
Unless things change, this could increase the impact of food production on the environment by up to 90 percent by 2050 to a level where the planet was no longer a ‘safe operating space for humanity’, according to the study.
A study has suggested that people should switch to diets rich in green vegetables, fruit and nuts
The prevent that, everyone should switch to diets rich in green vegetables, fruit and nuts and low in red meat and diary products, according to the research, funded by Scandinavian think tank EAT.
‘We recommend having less than one serving of red meat per (week),’ Springmann, a senior researcher at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food.
Livestock are responsible for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The amount of food thrown away – currently a third of the total – would also need to be halved and best practices to boost yields, recycle fertilizers and improve water management adopted worldwide.
The new research, published in the journal Nature, assesses the impact of food production on the global environment.
Despite the fact that about a third of food produced today never reaches the table, the study also looked at what could be done to stop the looming food crisis.
‘There is no magic bullet. ‘But dietary and technological change [on farms] are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste.’
‘For the average consumer … the takeaway message is, change your diet and write to your politicians to implement better regulations,’ said Springmann.
On Monday, the U.N. warned the world risked even more extreme weather and loss of species unless rapid unprecedented changes in all aspects of society or were taken to keep the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius.
How much food the world wastes each year
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 2.9 trillion pounds (or a third of the food in the world) is lost or wasted every year.
Fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers make up the most-wasted foods.
In industrialized countries, this all amounts to $680 billion in food. In developing countries, it’s $310 billion.
The average waste per capita in Europe and North America is 95-115 kg, or 209-254 lb, ever year.
The food lost or wasted in Latin America each year is enough to feed 300 million people. In Europe, it could feed 200 million people, and in Africa, it could feed 300 million people.
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