Saturday, May 17, 2008

Why farms must change to save the planet

The Scotsman: Farming is to blame for 25 per cent of Scotland's greenhouse gas emissions, a new report has revealed. The study into agriculture and its impact on the environment says radical changes are needed to centuries-old practices if Scotland is to meet its targets to tackle climate change. It dispels the myth that it is only air travel, shipping and excessive car use that unleash huge quantities of damaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Instead, it lays a big portion of the blame on farming.

Drastic solutions have been put forward in the study to tackle the problem. These include measures to cut the harmful methane emissions produced by cattle as they digest their food. This could involve replacing Scotland's traditional cattle species, such as the Aberdeen Angus, with faster-growing continental varieties that will produce less methane before they are slaughtered. Another option would be to reduce the number of cattle, which produce 26 per cent of farming's total emissions through methane.

Alternatively, cattle could be fed cereal crops, which improve their digestion, but that would use up crucial barley and wheat at a time of global food shortages. Another possible solution would be to replace farmland with woodland, which soaks up carbon from the atmosphere....

Scottish farm through a train window, by "Sarah Q" from Northern New Jersey, flickr via Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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