It’s already known that corporate agriculture and “the global food system is a major driver of climate change, land-use change, and biodiversity loss” as well as depletion of fresh water and pollution and ecological damage through fertilizer runoff.
Certain kinds of agriculture though are especially damaging and, despite western preferences and even government subsidies, meat and dairy production are particularly resource-intensive.
The concern is that as global population approaches 10 billion by 2050 and incomes rise in some formerly less developed nations, more people will choose “meat-rich western diets.” To a point that may be positive; people “who are undernourished need to eat a little more meat and dairy.” But, not in western nations; for example, “UK and US citizens need to cut beef by 90% and milk by 60% while increasing beans and nuts/seeds between 4 and 6 times.” This “flexitarian” diet (less beef, less pork, fewer eggs, much more beans, nuts, and seeds) could “halve emissions from livestock.” That, and technological changes in farming practices–how manure is managed, more universal water storage, “far more careful use of fertilizers”, etc.–will help further reduce the greenhouse gas emissions attributed to agriculture.
A positive is that the needed diet and technological changes “are already being implemented somewhere in the world.” But, “global change is needed.”
“The evidence is now unequivocal–we need to change our diets if we are to have a sustainable future. The fact that it will also make us healthier makes it a no-brainer.”
Read the article; see the graphic (Damian Carrington, The Guardian, October 10, 2018).