Those concerned with climate change have for years promoted the benefits of energy efficiency. It makes obvious sense: the more electricity or transportation you can get per unit of energy, the less climate damage that would result. Everyone agrees that energy efficiency is an essential part of tackling greenhouse gas emissions.
But what about agricultural efficiency? Estimates vary, but greenhouse gas emissions from world farming are estimated to be as much as a quarter of the global total. Many of these sources are difficult to reach: how do you stop cattle belching or rice paddies from emitting methane? By comparison, switching coal-fired power to clean energy sources like wind or nuclear looks easy.
Agricultural emissions are also rising rapidly and apparently inexorably, driven by world population growth and changing diets (with higher meat consumption in developing countries), in particular. Increasing agricultural efficiency in terms of crop productivity per unit of land area and animal feed conversion to meat and dairy is a critical—though often overlooked—aspect of the overall picture.
For the full article, see the Cornell Alliance for Science blog.