Eat Meat. Not Too Much. Mostly Monogastrics

For decades, environmentalists have been rightly concerned about the environmental impact of humanity’s food systems. Often, this has meant advocating for shifting diets — in particular, away from meat, given its outsized environmental impact. A recent, much-publicized example is the EAT-Lancet Commission’s new report, whose flexitarian dietary guidelines include some, but not much, meat. But what’s often been missed in the discussion of these guidelines is that in terms of environmental impacts, how much meat you eat might matter less than what kind of meat you eat. What if shifting from one type of meat (beef) to another (monogastrics, like pork and poultry) offered environmental benefits at least as large as simply reducing meat consumption across the board?

Continue reading at thebreakthrough.org

 

Magical Thinking Won’t Help Us Reconcile Biodiversity & Food Production

Recently, Science published a major review of the potential for conservation on farmland, rangelands, forests, and other working lands, authored by Claire Kremen and Adina Merenlender. The latest installation in a long-running debate about the relative merits of conservation approaches ranging from “land sparing” to “land sharing,” the piece presents an alluring vision of landscapes that can deliver not just abundant food and timber, but ecosystem services and biodiversity, all at the same time. However, the piece can only paint this rosy picture by downplaying the very real trade-offs between different functions in a landscape, thus eliding rather than illuminating the challenge of providing food and other goods while also protecting biodiversity.

Continue reading at thebreakthrough.org

 

Does Wildlife Loss Threaten Civilization?

The declines in animal populations documented in the latest WWF Living Planet Report are tragic and painful news for nature and wildlife enthusiasts like myself. Yet it is not clear that the loss of species and populations, even at the scale we’ve seen in the last few decades, really endangers human material well-being. Overall well-being and quality of life certainly are affected, no doubt — less non-human life makes for a world that is less beautiful and exciting — but the same may not be true for material well-being.

Continue reading at thebreakthrough.org

 

Toward a Half-Earth Future

Over the last several years, a growing network of conservationists, through efforts like the Nature Needs Half network, has proposed an audacious goal for 21st century conservation: set aside half of the earth’s land area for nature. As an aspirational goal, the concept has inspired. Rather than framing global conservation as an exercise in damage control, the new effort offers a vision of an ecologically vibrant future in which people and nature thrive together.

Continue reading at thebreakthrough.org

 
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The Future of Fish Farming

As global demand for seafood increases alongside population and income growth, fish farming has become more necessary than ever, despite its negative environmental externalities. How can the aquaculture industry achieve long-term sustainability, both in terms of conservation and energy usage?

Continue reading at Project Syndicate

 
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How Modern Agriculture Can Save the Gorillas of Virunga

Humans use about half the world's ice-free surface, mostly for food production. Yet with continuing technological improvements, population and its impact on the environment could peak and then decline within the next few decades. This phenomenon, called decoupling, means that people can increase their standard of living while doing less damage to the environment. Protecting remaining wilderness in the face of escalating demand for food, resources and energy will require accelerating decoupling—in other words, speeding up urbanization and intensifying modern agriculture.

Continue reading at Scientific American

 
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How Humans Spare Nature

We conserve nature by using less of it—but to do so we must embrace modern technology.

Continue reading at PERC

 
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Food Production and Wildlife on Farmland

What kind of agriculture most benefits biodiversity? In recent years, few questions have animated conservationists and land-use scientists more than this one. Rightly so: agricultural expansion and intensification are leading causes of wildlife declines and habitat loss,1 and with rising demand for agricultural products, pressures are set to mount even further.

Continue reading at thebreakthrough.org

 
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Sustainable Intensification: let’s refine industrial farming instead of abandoning it

Most evidence points to conventional, intensive farming as a better option for the environment than more extensive or organic systems, and it has been getting better over time.

Continue reading at CGIAR

 
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Is Precision Agriculture the Way to Peak Cropland?

If farmland continues to grow over the next several decades, the consequences for habitats and wildlife would be dire. As such, slowing, halting, and eventually reversing the growth in agricultural area must be a top priority – perhaps the top priority – for global conservation.

Continue reading at thebreakthrough.org

 

Decoupling or Degrowth? Why "Peak Stuff" May Not Be As Dire As You’ve Heard

Does humanity’s growing use of materials mean that decoupling is impossible? In a word, no, and attempts to reduce all resource and environmental problems to our material footprint won’t help us solve problems of resource scarcity or environmental impacts.

Continue reading at thebreakthrough.org

George Monbiot is wrong to suggest small farms are best for humans and nature

 
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George Monbiot is wrong to suggest small farms are best for humans and nature

Monbiot has criticised ecomodernism for endorsing agricultural modernisation, but this is the way to feed a growing urban population and free up land for rewilding.

Continue reading at The Guardian