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Organic Farming: Agriculture’s Answer to Climate Change

You can’t flip on the news these days without hearing about the devastating effects of climate change. Glaciers are melting, natural disasters are becoming more frequent, and wildlife species are losing their habitats every year. Not only does climate change affect these aspects of our environment, but it also threatens the world’s food supply. Long-term agriculture won’t be possible without a healthy environment. Fortunately, organic farming can help.

If climate change continues to occur, food disruption will be severe. If food production does not become more sustainable, the effects of climate change will worsen. This paradoxical situation is inevitable unless farmers, producers, and consumers change their habits now.

File:Projected impact of climate change on agricultural yields by the 2080s, compared to 2003 levels (Cline, 2007).png

Photo credit: European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark

Organic agriculture management practices hold the most promise for mitigating the effects of global warming, energy consumption, and toxic emissions. According to the results of 19 world-wide studies coordinated by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, organically-managed soils released an average 492 kg less carbon dioxide per hectare than conventionally-managed soils each year. The uptake of methane on organic farms is also higher than on conventional farms. Simply put, researchers concluded that organic farming is a very resilient and productive strategy for environmental adaptation.

These are a few of the ways that organic farming helps the earth adapt to climate change:

  • Lower energy emissions than conventional farming
  • Reduced soil emissions of nitrous oxides and methane
  • Increased soil fertilization and long-term crop growth
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions
  • Increased biodiversity of species
  • Contributes to agro-forestry production systems
  • Emphasis on local markets

Since agriculture is one of the major contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, it is up to farmers to employ practices that lessen the effects of climate change. The damage that we have already done to the earth cannot be reversed. However, water efficient irrigation techniques, drought and pest-resistant seed varieties, and organic methods can help farmers adapt to the changing conditions; thereby feeding the world.

To learn more about reducing your carbon footprint with organic strategies, check out a couple of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement’s books: The Role of Organic Agriculture in Mitigating Climate Change and Organic Agriculture for Biodiversity.

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