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The way we eat could kill the planet

Meat, dairy and rice are the highest contributors in the food category to a global rise in temperatures

A farmer at work. (Pixabay)
A farmer at work. (Pixabay)

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What are the three primary food sources that lead to global warming? Meats like beef, lamb and mutton; dairy; and rice, says a new study published in the nature journal Nature Climate Change on Monday. These three contribute 19% each in the food category to a warming planet. They produce a huge quantity of methane, a lethal greenhouse gas which beats components, like carbon dioxide, to add to increasing temperatures.

According to the calculations of the researchers of the study, methane’s share is about 75% in the food’s category of greenhouse gases by 2030.

“I think the biggest takeaway that I would want (policymakers) to have is the fact that methane emissions are really dominating the future warming associated with the food sector,” Catherine C. Ivanovich, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the study's lead author was quoted in an Associated Press story published on Monday.

If consumption of these continue in the same rampant manner as today, global temperatures will exceed the limit of 1.5 degree Celsius by 2100, which is considered to be devastating for the planet. The Paris Agreement of 2015 with 196 participating nations had agreed to keep global temperatures below 2 degree Celsius.

Cimate-friendly farming is one of the areas of focus of India’s budget in the next financial year. “With programmes around green fuel, climate-friendly farming, green buildings, low-carbon mobility, and policies for efficient energy use across various economic sectors, the 2023-24 Budget lays a strong foundation for green growth – a step in the right direction for enabling climate action in India,” reads a story published by Mint in February.

There are other food-related initiatives to mitigate the challenges of climate change. The United Nations declared 2023 as the International Year of Millets. Compared to rice farming, millets require less water and are believed to be less resource-intensive.

With inputs from AP.

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