Industrial farming methods contribute to climate change. Whether you believe the evidence of global atmospheric warming or not, there is overwhelming evidence that changes are occuring in our climate. While climate change is a natural occurence over geological time, we are currently seeing some rapid fluctuations in weather around the globe. We have been bombarded with messages about how we need to change our livestyle in the developed countries to do our part to damp down these changes.
There are three main gases that contribute to the Earth's greenhouse effect. Without the balanced interaction of these gases, Earth would be a much colder place and life as we know it would not exist. Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide help trap the sun's radient heat inside our atmosphere, much like a greenhouse traps heat, or a closed car's interior on a summer's day warms up and holds heat in.
Most of us are well aware of the part that carbon dioxide plays in atmospheric warming. The burning of fossil fuels like coal since the Industrial Revolution has accelerated. Forests and humus in soils act like carbon banks to sequester some of this carbon. We have been made aware that our private vehicle use has added to the carbon load.
Industrial style farming adds all three greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Tracts of forest cleared for huge plantations like the palm oil industry release carbon when burned. This combines with the oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide. The industrial practises often deplete the humus storage system also releasing more carbon into the atmosphere. The new Green Revolution crops demand fertilizers to yield properly. Nitrogen fertilizers are liberally used to "push" the plants. Extra nitrogen not used by the plants combines with oxygen to form nitrous oxide which helps warm the planet. We have all laughed at the idea that cow farts are warming the planet. Actually cow farts are nearly pure methane, another greenhouse gas. The practise of feeding large grain rations to confined livestock produces methane in their digestive systems. Traditional farming methods do not confine livestock but allow it to forage and consume little or no grain and the animals fart far less.
What we can do Everybody, no matter where they live - city, suburb, rural - has a part to play in minimizing climate change. A relatively easy change is shopping at your local super market. Buy fewer processed foods with palm oil in them. Ask your grocer where the food was produced if they don't already label it and support buying local or at least food grown on your own continent. Refuse to buy animal products produced by industrial methods. Small changes in your food buying habits can add up to big changes in our atmosphere.