Modifying Food Production Systems Could Potentially Help Limit the Magnitude of Future Climate Change

Food production systems are not only affected by climate change; they also contribute to it through GHG emissions of CO2, CH4 (primarily from livestock and flooded rice paddies), and N2O (primarily from fertilizer use). Recent global assessments conclude that agriculture accounts for about 10 to 12 percent of total global human emissions of GHGs. With the intensification of agriculture that will be required to feed the world's growing and increasingly affluent population, these emissions are projected to increase. Many options are available to manage agricultural and livestock systems to reduce emissions, such as changes in feed and feeding practices, manure management, and more efficient fertilizer application. At a landscape level, management of agricultural lands presents opportunities to reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2 by sequestering soil carbon, shifting to crops with higher carbon storage potential, and reducing forest clearing for agricultural expansion. Neither the factors that affect the ability of farmers to adopt these types of management practices nor the incentives and institutions that would foster adaptation have been well studied.

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