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Climate is changing and so is our food

La Giornata mondiale dell’alimentazione 2016 è dedicata al terribile impatto dei cambiamenti climatici sulla nostra sicurezza alimentare.

According to the Gaya theory, formulated by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, our planet (Gaya, the personification of Earth in the Greek mythology) is a living, interconnected being that is able to self-regulate. This is a hypothesis that could be considered as extreme, but the fact that there’s a global natural balance is undeniable. Increasing human-related activities have altered this sophisticated yet fragile balance, and consequences are catastrophic.

Rice farmer in Japan
World’s poorest people, which mainly are farmers, fishermen and shepherds, are the most affected by climate change © JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images

Agriculture and climate change

Global warming may be the greatest threat our species has to face to survive. Along with extreme weather events becoming more intense, climate change could wipe out the food from our table, while modifying the yield and quality of numerous products over the next decades. Agriculture is victim and responsible of this phenomenon at the same time. In fact, it is responsible for 14 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The most polluting industry is animal farming, which generates more emissions than the entire transportation sector. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), cattle contribute to nearly two thirds of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and to 78 per cent of methane emissions.

World Food Day 2016

Bearing all these factors in mind, it’s fundamental to adapt food and agricultural systems to the negative effects of climate change and make them more resistant, productive and sustainable. Agriculture must take a step backwards and return to be sustainable by using natural resources wisely. World Food Day is celebrated on 16 October and was established by FAO in 1981. The 2016 edition is dedicated to the relationship between food and agriculture, under the motto “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”. The official ceremony takes place on 14 October at FAO headquarters.

The importance of bees for food

Global warming and human-related activities also threaten the very survival of bees. So here’s exemplified the Gaya theory. The extinction of bees would trigger a knock-on effect that would affect us. Our future is linked to that of bees because these pollinators play an essential role for ecosystems. They help flowers expand their range and reproduce, contributing to food security. More than two thirds of cultivations used for human nutrition – making up 90 per cent of our food supply – are pollinated by bees, whose extinction would end the agricultural world as we know it today.

Bee (Apis mellifera carnica)
Bee populations are declining globally due to habitat loss and the effects of pesticides used on fields © Frank Bienewald/LightRocket via Getty Images

How we can make a difference

A massive, rapid change is essential and we’re convinced that each and every of us can do it. We can combat climate change by modifying our daily habits, such as reducing our meat consumption, favouring local, seasonal fruit and vegetables, cutting waste, and recycling. The FAO, in occasion of World Food Day, has drawn up a list of virtuous climate actions we can take to conserve natural resources. The organisation also encourages choosing four actions, putting them in practice and sharing the experience with the hashtag #WFD2016.

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