Local weather-conscious Lent: wholesome vitamin for individuals and the atmosphere | planet earthfall
Editor’s note: In his Lent “Reflections on Caring for Creation”, Fr. Emmet Farrell examined our impact on the planet and our responsibility as believers for our common home. Here you can log on to have Ms. Farrell’s reflections in your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from February 17th to April 2nd.
A complex food system – which includes production, transportation, processing, packaging, storage, wholesale and retail, consumption, loss and waste – feeds most of the world’s people and provides an income for more than 1 billion people. That emerges from a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But while food production per capita has increased over the past six decades, so has malnutrition. And the entire food system is under increased stress from climate change, which is shifting the growing seasons and contributing to weather extremes such as drought and severe storms. This leads to decreased productivity of crops and livestock and, in some cases, to conflict.
Scientists estimate that agriculture and ranching, land use and deforestation for agriculture, food supply chain activities such as transportation and food waste account for between 21% and 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Agriculture and the food system are key to providing answers to global climate change,” and building resilience will also help fight malnutrition, the report said. “Combining supply-side measures such as efficient production, transport and processing with demand-side interventions such as changing food choices and reducing food losses and waste reduces greenhouse gas emissions and improves the resilience of the food system.”
Individuals can make a contribution by making more climate-friendly food choices, but there must also be public policies that include comprehensive solutions to improve and protect food systems, the report says. These include things like crop insurance for farmers, shorter supply chains that are less prone to disruption in emergencies, better storage of crops and food, more production of healthy foods and less carbon-intensive products, and government nutrition programs.
The past year has shown the importance of preparing food production and supply chains for emergencies, be it in the form of pandemics or climate change.
Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, especially when few people are able to sustain it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction. (Laudato Si ‘, 204)
[There] is a minority [that] believes it has the right to consume in ways that can never be universalized, as the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. We also know that about a third of all food produced is thrown away, and “when food is thrown away, it’s like being stolen from the table of the poor”. (Laudato Si ‘, 50)
These problems are closely related to a throwaway culture that affects the marginalized as much as it quickly turns them into rubbish. (Laudato Si ‘, 22)
It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us let the invisible forces of the market regulate the economy and regard their effects on society and nature as collateral damage. The same “use and throw away” logic creates so much waste because of the disorderly desire to consume more than is really necessary. (Laudato Si ‘, 123)
The demand for food, water and energy will rise by around 35, 40 and 50 percent, respectively, due to the increase in the world population and the consumer behavior of an expanding middle class. Climate change will worsen the prospects for the availability of these critical resources. Rapid changes in the precipitation pattern could be very disruptive [a region’s] Ability to feed its population. (Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, US National Intelligence Council)
- Think what would happen to plants if a greenhouse were to overheat.
- Tell the companies you buy food from that you want “greener” products – local and organic.
- Plan and implement ways to save water in your home or church.
- Eat less red meat and less dairy products.
- Review food’s carbon footprint and promote low-carbon snacks by emphasizing vegetables and fruits over more carbon-intensive processed products.