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  • Writer's pictureWayne Drury

FARMERS ON THE EDGE




Welcome to our website, Sustainable Circular Economy, where we discuss climate change and global warming issues that affect us all. Our discussions embrace the principles of a circular economy. And to begin with, we discuss the issue of Farmers on the Edge, the new initiative by the Canadian government to restrict the use of fertilizers. Will that work?


Before we begin, a few comments about the information in the photo from the Government of Canada[1]. It is interesting what can be done with statistics; the visualization depends on what is left out. And the two big ones, changes to land use and rice production have been left out.


There is nothing more sacrosanct than our farming community. Large, small, in between, if we do not have it, we do not have life. Just ask one of the millions in the world that cannot access food to bring them any measure of a quality of life. Are we going to let history repeat itself? Our next blog is going to address this question.


Let’s put this into perspective: “Global Warming of 1.5°C”, a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), makes clear that a “rapid and far-reaching” transition is required to limit the impact of climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”


Doing so would require making changes to how we eat and waste food, to how we manage our forests and natural carbon sinks.


In a report built upon more than one decade of study, McKinsey & Company analyzed Green House Gas (GHG) abatement[2]. They have the top 25 measures to reduce on-farm emissions which have the potential to abate a reduction of about 20 percent of total emissions from agriculture, forestry, and land-use change.


Moreover, the top 15 measures by abatement potential would contribute 85 percent of this emissions abatement and touch four major categories: energy, animal protein, crops, and rice cultivation. And, other than what Canadian farmers are already doing, nothing even makes the top 15.


Below shows the present contributions of GHG from farming activities:[3]



Note, synthetic fertilizers contribute 0.6GT – 3% of the total. Low hanging fruit?

Rice production produces 35 times more GHG than synthetic fertilizers. Are we putting our efforts in areas that will have a real impact?


Cows pooping accounts for 42%. Forestry and Land Use accounts for 26% and what is being proposed? Huge changes in land use to build wind and solar panel farms. No one wants to talk about the negative impacts of land conversion to electrical farms including, loss of biodiversity and killing off of important and endangered birds and animals.

Did you know that “estimates suggest wind turbines in North America kill 600,000 to 949,000 bats and 140,000 to 679,000 birds a year?”[4]


Any discussion regarding the negative impacts from wind and solar farms are shunned. “Feeling good” about an action may not be the right action.


Two, have targets been met yet?


“Reducing agriculture emissions will require changing how we farm, what we eat, how much we waste, and how we manage our forests and natural carbon sinks.”


The issue is, how we go about it.


Government wants farmers to change the way they use fertilizer – but, farmers have already done that. Farmers in Canada have been efficiently managing nitrous fertilizer use for more that 2 decades.


Let’s return for a moment to the diagram above. Food waste is not a farming activity; it is a supply chain issue and accounts for 31% of lost production world-wide. If we really want to do something beneficial, not only for people in Canada but throughout the world, why not spend our time on reducing food waste?


Just think, 31% more food without any more land conversion, use of fertilizers, and less GHG production due to less rotting food. What could be better than that?


At Sustainable Circular Economy, we appreciate the complexities of transitioning to a better way of looking at global warming, sustainable development and the impacts on People. But is what is being done working? Maybe it is time to bring in discussion about a circular economy.


Please visit our website at Sustainable Circular Economy, and subscribe to stay in touch.


Best wishes.

[1] Government of Canada (Jan. 30, 2020). Greenhouse gases and agriculture https://agriculture.canada.ca/en/agriculture-and-environment/climate-change-and-air-quality/greenhouse-gases-and-agriculture Accessed July 27, 2022. [2] McKinsey & Company (April, 2020). Agriculture and Climate Change. [‘ol=-i0u9 a2dftuio0p-=|0 cxzaer90o-p=[]’/ [3] Ibid. [4] The Atlantic (21/07/2021). Are Wind Turbines a Danger to Wildlife? Ask the Dogs. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2021/07/bat-dogs-wind-turbines/619482/

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