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climat agriculture

Mankind does not only burn oil. It also burns forests. Today, deforestation is responsible for a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Destroying trees releases the carbon that was stored in them. It also changes soil that sometimes contains even more carbon than on the surface. Thus, in Indonesia, the destruction of peat bogs to make room for palm tree plantations has made the country the third highest CO2 emitter.

Agriculture is also a greenhouse gas factory. It is the main cause of methane and nitrous oxide emissions. These two greenhouse gases contribute most to the greenhouse effect after carbon dioxide. Over a century, the global warming potential of methane is 25 times stronger than CO2 whilst the global warming potential of nitrous oxide second is 298 times stronger. Rice growing, for example, emits large amounts of methane. Growing a kilo of rice emits an average of 120 grams. This means that rice growing produces 60 million tons of methane every year. The use of synthetic fertilisers is the main source of nitrous oxide.

Lastly, stockbreeding is responsible for many emissions. Indeed, it indirectly causes deforestation as room is made for pastures or to grow soya beans that are then given to animals. Moreover, as they digest, domestic ruminants produce methane as they burp and break wind. They produce about 80 million tons of methane a year. In total, animal husbandry is responsible for about 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than transport!

Unfortunately, the idyllic image of small farmers living in harmony with nature no longer reflects the reality in most developed countries. Chemically-produced fertilisers and pesticides are used in agriculture and when agriculture is motorised, it uses fuel. Therefore, it is our whole society that produces greenhouse gases, not only power plants and factories.


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