What Are the 5 Effects of Climate Change?

Human influence on Earth’s climate systems is now an established fact corroborated by observational records and climate models. The term “climate change” broadly refers to the long-term shifts in average temperatures and weather patterns that have been measured since the pre-industrial era. In essence, there are five symptoms associated with climate change: 1) increased surface temperatures, 2) rising sea levels, 3) melting ice sheets, 4) declining biodiversity, and 5) decreased agriculture production.

What Are the Effects of Rising Temperatures?

Rising surface, ocean, and atmospheric temperatures, also known as global warming, is perhaps the most influential symptom of climate change. As average daily temperatures gradually increase, there may be more incidents of heatwaves and droughts. Global warming also adds to the likelihood of wildfire occurrences. Evapotranspiration-the combination of water evaporation, soil moisture evaporation, and plant transpiration-rids soils and vegetation of their moisture. Dried-out plant matter acts as kindling during wildfires and enables the spread of flames.

Excess heat may also be hazardous to human health. People who are exposed to extreme heat can experience a range of conditions, including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes.

Why Is Sea Level Rise a Problem?

Sea level rise is related to the melting of land-ice and thermal expansion in seawater caused by heating oceans. The most affected communities are those along coasts. Coastal systems are more sensitive to rising seas because of their low elevation and proximity to large bodies of water. Erosion from intense wave action and flooding threatens coastal infrastructure more than that of high-elevation and inland territories. On top of that, coasts are highly vulnerable to extreme storms such as tropical cyclones. Coastal storms, including hurricanes and tropical storms, generate powerful ocean waves and harsh winds that indiscriminately damage property and claim lives.

How Does Melting Ice Sheets Affect the Environment?

Ice sheets are permanent masses of ice that cover vast amounts of land in Greenland and Antarctica. Under the influence of global warming, ice sheets melt more quickly. Water from melting land ice inevitably flows into seas and contributes to rising sea levels. In return, increasing amounts of melting sea ice loss reinforce global warming. This is because brightly colored snow and ice surfaces reflect sunlight back into space, whereas darkly colored sea water absorbs sunlight and heat energy. As ice sheets melt, Greenland and Antarctica will continue to heat up, and vice versa.

Permafrost (layers of subsurface soil, gravel, and sand that stay frozen year-round) stores plant material and keep them from decomposing as long as they remain frozen. Thawing these icy structures will allow the natural breakdown of plant materials to take place. When organic materials decompose, an array of greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere and intensify global heating.

Biodiversity Loss Effects

A report published in 2021 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) drew a connection between climate change and biodiversity loss. According to the report, long-term climatological shifts have the potential to adversely alter a wide range of ecosystems.

For example, ocean acidification, which is driven by warming sea temperatures, can be harmful to species that form shells and skeletons from calcium and carbonate. When large amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide are absorbed by seawater, the water’s pH is reduced and the amount of carbonate ions decreases. Ocean acidification can make shells and skeletons grow more slowly or dissolve more quickly, leaving species like scallops, corals, sea urchins, and clams more prone to impaired health.

How Does Climate Change Affect Agriculture?

The physical effects of climate change could influence agriculture production in a myriad of ways because crops depend on suitable environmental conditions to grow. Crop growth can be disturbed by shifts in air temperature or losses in soil biodiversity.

A 2017 study titled, “Temperature Increase Reduces Global Yields of Major Crops in Four Independent Estimates“, compiled results from four analytical methods (global grid-based models, local point-based models, statistical regressions, and field-warming experiments). They discovered that “without CO2 fertilization, effective adaptation, and genetic improvement, each degree-Celsius increase in global mean temperature would, on average, reduce global yields…”. Exposure to hotter temperatures may therefore contribute to abiotic stress for crops. Assuming that this is true, climate change will make food security threats more pronounced in the future.

Is SB 1383 Mandatory?

Californian flag and American flag
Californian and American Flags

Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383) is California’s short-lived climate pollutant reduction law. The bill was enacted September 2019 to lower emissions of short-lived pollutants such as methane by 40%, relative to 2013 levels, no later than 2030. To achieve this objective, Californian food generators are being required to reduce their organic waste contributions.

California Landfill Methane Rule

SB 1383 limits the amount of organic decomposing material in landfills so that California’s total greenhouse gas emissions will decrease. Decomposing organic wastes, including foods, discharge so called “landfill gases” (LFG). LFGs are a combination of different greenhouse gases that are produced as organic wastes rot and break down.

In a sense, Senate Bill 1383 addresses food security and regional emissions reductions all at once. A fraction of food that would normally be disposed of in landfills or composts, must now be made available for human consumption. Some Californian households and businesses will have to initiate food recovery programs and or strengthen existing food recovery strategies.

Who Does SB 1383 Apply To?

SB 1383 requires specific food businesses to donate the maximum possible amount of edible food to food recovery organizations and for recycling. The law assumes two tiers for different kinds of edible food generators. “Tier One” includes supermarkets, grocery stores, food service providers and wholesale food vendors.

Restaurants, hotels, health facilities, certain education agencies and large venues and events are all considered “Tier Two”. Both tiers of food generators must donate as much food as they possibly can to food recovery organizations. Organizations and services that participate in SB 1383 are obligated to maintain records of the food being donated and the frequency of donations.

Who Passed SB 1383?

Edmund Brown Jr passed SB 1383 September 2016. Brown received his law degree from Yale and served as Governor of California from 1975 to 1983 and 2011 to 2019. By signing the bill into law, he established official methane emissions reduction targets that apply to most food generators across in the state.

Senate Bill 1383 California

Senate Bill 1383 went into effect January 1, 2022. By regulating organic waste disposal, California is expected to decrease its total greenhouse gas output while feeding hungry citizens at the same time. Organics may be recycled by composting and mulching. Some organic materials are converted into biogas, a renewable energy source, through a process known as aerobic digestion.

The Environmental Impact of GMOs

An article made available in Science Direct, 2022, unpacks the potential benefits that genetically modified crops have for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Authors of the document, Emma Kovak, DanBlaustein-Rejto and Matin Qaim, claim that “genetically modified (GM) crops can help reduce agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition to possible decreases in production emissions, GM yield gains also mitigate land-use change and related emissions”.

How Do GMOs Affect The Environment?

GM (genetically modified) crops are agriculture plants that have had stretches of DNA added, effectively modified or turned off within their genome to achieve desired traits. GM crops are commonly designed to be more resistant to insects and tolerant to herbicides. Modified crops can therefore lower the need for chemical pesticides, which are greenhouse gas contributors. Also, yield increases from GM crop use may prevent greenhouse gas emissions from the conversion of natural land (land that is uncultivated) to cropland. Land conversions promote greenhouse gas emissions through tilling and forest clearing.

GMO Climate Change Strategy

The article contrives a hypothetical scenario in which the European Union (EU) lifts its “quasi-ban” against widespread GM crop use. Authors of the article assume that yield increases from genetically modified crop adoption in the EU would offer benefits similar to those observed in other industrialized, temperate-zone countries that use modified crops. They further assume that enhanced crop production in the EU will bring about proportional decrease in agriculture production elsewhere. The latter of these assumptions is built on the belief that land will be spared (remain uncultivated) because the EU will be producing more crops domestically, consequently shrinking land conversion demands in outside territories.

Avoided emissions estimates from increased yield are intentionally underestimated in the article. Although authors state that “…higher GM crop adoption in the EU would likely also lead to higher [technology] adoption elsewhere”, their avoided emissions estimates do not account for the implementation of technology related to genetically modified crop use.

Avoided emissions estimates also do not account for the implementation of novel modified crops and traits. In other words, estimates are strictly based on well known genetically modified crops (soybean, cotton, canola, maize, and sugar beet) and the traits that they are designed with.

GMOs Reduce Carbon Emissions

Even though estimates are based on already-existing technology for modified crop application as well as already-existing modified plants and traits, it may be fair to assume that new technologies and new crops and traits would emerge from increased modified crop adoption in the European Union. Authors of the article assert that the EU can and should “increase agricultural productivity through embracing new crop technologies, thus contributing to global environmental benefits”.

GMO Benefits

Adopting genetically modified crops in places like Europe, which has higher wheat crop loss levels-caused by insects and pathogens-that the global average, may result in improved crop growth by making vegetation more resilient to environmental stressors, such as disease, insects and herbicide application. Increased vegetation is expected to lead to enhanced soil fertility and improve carbon absorption in soils and biomass. By boosting crop yields in areas that have not broadly accepted genetically modified vegetation, tilling and forest clearing-related emissions can be mitigated.

Is Seitan Healthy For Weight Loss?

Plant-based diets are more than just a strategy for promoting sustainable agriculture, they can also improve weight loss efforts and reduce heart disease risks. Plant proteins like seitan are generally lower in fats and carbohydrates compared to animal proteins, so seitan is an ideal food while dieting for weight loss. Carbohydrates are macronutrients taken from the foods that we consume. Our bodies then convert carbohydrates into glucose which is used as energy.

woman holding tape measurer around waist

A 2014 randomized controlled trial titled “Effect of a 6-Month Vegan Low-Carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) Diet On Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Body Weight In Hyperlipidaemic Adults: A Randomised Controlled Trial” compared the effects of low-carbohydrate vegan diets (containing protein and fat from plant-based sources) to high-carbohydrate ovo-lacto vegetarian diets (containing some animal sources of protein and fat). The study concludes that low-carbohydrate vegan diets that get protein and fat from gluten and other plant foods had weight loss advantages over a high-carbohydrate ovo-lacto vegetarian diets. Furthermore, low-carb vegan diets had greater lipid lowering benefits than high-carb diets did, making low-carb vegan diets the superior alternative for limiting heart disease risks.

“Effect of a 6-Month Vegan Low-Carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) Diet On Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Body Weight In Hyperlipidaemic Adults: A Randomised Controlled Trial” Review

The 23 participants who completed the study were overweight hyperlipidemic men and women. They were instructed to eat one of two of these meal plans over the course of six months after finishing one-month-all foods included-variations of the diets. The macronutrient intake for the low-carbohydrate meal plan had 26% of energy came from carbohydrates, 31% from protein and 43% from fat. For the high-carbohydrate meal plan, 58% of energy came from carbohydrates, 16% from protein and 25% from fat. The results of the study: weight loss for the low-carbohydrate group increased to -15.2 pounds compared to the -12.7 pounds weight loss increase for the high-carbohydrate participants. In addition, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (also known as bad cholesterol) and triglyceride reductions were more pronounced in the low-carbohydrate group.

What Are Direct and Indirect Effects of Climate Change?

Freshwater systems provide usable water for technological development, agriculture and human consumption, while also serving as habitats for various aquatic species. Therefore, freshwater systems are of crucial economic and ecological value. A 2021 study titled, ” “The Importance of Indirect Effects of Climate Change Adaptations On Alpine and Pre-Alpine Freshwater Systems” asserts that human-made transformations in water hydrology and pollution from sewer outflows and agriculture chemicals are threats to freshwater systems. Properly accounting for the effects of climate change and anthropogenic influence on aquatic environments will hopefully improve climate change adaptation policies.

What Is Freshwater?

Rivers, reservoirs, and streams are examples of freshwaters systems. Freshwater is a subset of Earth’s water which is significantly less salty than marine waters (like seas and oceans). The United States Geological Survey, a branch dedicated to science within the United States Department of the Interior, defines freshwater as “water containing less than 1,000 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids, most often salt.” Though freshwater is renewed through the water cycle, it is a finite resource. If freshwater is used more quickly than it is naturally replenished, water security risks may be enhanced.

What Are Direct and Indirect Effects of Climate Change?

Authors of “The Importance of Indirect Effects of Climate Change Adaptations On Alpine and Pre-Alpine Freshwater Systems”, regard higher frequency of extreme meteorological events and increased temperatures as “direct effects” of climate change. These direct effects adversely influence the state and quality of aquatic regions. Direct effects also interact with human responses to climate change and produce “indirect effects”.

So-called indirect effects refer to human practices that are aimed at climate change mitigation. Indirect effects include land-use changes, alterations to freshwater systems and increasing irrigation practices. Authors suggest that “indirect effects may, at least in the short term, overrun the impact of direct climate change on water bodies.” Though all biomes are predicted to be impacted by climate change, freshwater systems in alpine and pre-alpine regions may be disproportionately at risk due to agriculture and hydropower plants.

Adapting Water Management to Climate Change

Freshwater use for the production of energy, also known as hydropower, is typically made possible by dams and in-stream structures. Hydropower infrastructure generates usable electricity for homes and businesses. Authors of the 2021 review article posit that hydropower is used as an alternative to nonrenewable energy resources. Hydropower production is therefore considered an adaptation strategy to climate change. Hydropower installations in freshwater networks can fragment or isolate certain species populations which are ill-adapted for the changes in water flow and perpetuate biodiversity loss. By modifying the hydrology of freshwater systems, water usage for energy production can compound the direct effects of climate change to aquatic flora and fauna.

How Does Agriculture Affect Climate Change?

Agriculture can be of detriment to freshwater systems as well, but in a much different way than hydropower plants. Climate change can intensify extreme weather event trends, such as floods, storms and droughts; these effects can drive diminished crop yields. In the interest of mitigating threats to crops brought on by climate change, agriculturalists may expand irrigation infrastructure or enhance fertilizer use. These adaptations can exacerbate the consequences which are already affecting crop growth cycles.

What Is the Impact of Climate Change On Water Resources?

Authors of the 2021 review claim that “rain-fed dairy farming is currently the most predominant form of agriculture, but in the future these grasslands may become more and more dependent on irrigation”. Redirecting water for irrigation use can potentially limit the quantity of water available in freshwater ecosystems. Variability in weather regimes may contribute to further dependence on water from irrigation (rather than from rainfall) in the future. Some of the responses that agriculturalists are expected to as a response to a changing climate pose risks to freshwater systems. Policy makers must account for indirect impacts to alleviate worsening the ecological status and water quality within aquatic environments.

Cowspiracy Ocean Facts Summary

Fisheries harvest marine organisms across the globe. While fisheries do generate food and profit, they could be doing much more harm than good for underwater ecosystems. The film Cowspiracy makes a convincing case for the deleterious affect that large-scale fishing operations have on ocean environments, species variety and species abundance. Cowspiracy depicts modern fishing as a largely unsustainable industry that could lead to fishless oceans by 2048.

fish near water surface
Fish near water surface

Fishing As Depicted By Cowspiracy

Fish and other marine life are mostly hunted as food. However, some species are used for other commodities. Sharks, for example, are sometimes hunted for their skin which can be used in the making of leather. Other species like whales and manatees are regularly harmed or killed unintentionally by getting caught in fishing nets. The Cowspiracy Facts page sites a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) document which states that in the year 2017, between 51 – 167 billion farmed fishes had been killed for food. That same year an estimated 250 – 600 billion crustaceans were also farmed and killed for food. Even animals that are not eaten by humans are caught and killed inadvertently because of drift netting or trawling. Susan Hartland of Conservation Society says that animal populations are being extracted from oceans more quickly than they can recover. Marine species are therefore collapsing under the immense pressures of modern hunting. The unintended catches, sharks, sea turtles and dolphins, are referred to as bykill.

Keystone Species and Trophic Cascades

Apex predators often act as keystone species, meaning that they have disproportionately large effects in their natural environments. This makes the removal of sharks particularly concerning. As top predators, many sharks species exert top down influence in their respective food webs. The removal of sharks, and other keystone species increases trophic cascade risks. Trophic cascades are the ecological chain of events triggered by the removal or addition of top predators.

Agriculture, Fishing and Algae Blooms

“Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world in our oceans…” According to Dr. Richard Oppenlander, an environmental researcher featured in the Cowspiracy film. Water pollution comes in the form of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, plastics and other waste material. However, animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean pollution – a fact which is stated explicitly in the Cowspiracy film. Animal agriculture run-off upsets nutrient balances in aquatic ecosystems by introducing phosphorus, nitrogen, manure and potassium from chemical fertilizers. These excess nutrients can cause alae blooms, leading to uninhabitable zones for marine species. Blooms of algae drain sunlight and deplete oxygen levels – making the environment unsuitable for most other lifeforms in the ecosystem.

Bottom trawling contributes to inhabitable zones similarly. Bottom trawling, also referred to as “dragging” involves casting a fishing net to the sea floor. Trawling disturbs sediments along the sea floor which causes carbon to be released. Once carbon dioxide is released from sediments, it is then absorbed by ocean seawater. Elevated carbon levels allow water to trap in more heat and further facilitate algae and plant overgrowth.

Cowspiracy Summary: Rainforest Facts

The official Cowspiracy website lists references aimed at supporting the arguments and conclusions proposed in the film on its “Facts” page. The page of supporting documents has 9 categories, including Ocean, Wildlife, Land, Waste, Water, Greenhouse Gases, Rainforest and Humanity. The documents listed in the Rainforest facts section describe the importance of rainforest ecosystems and demonstrate the effect that poor land use – such as monoculture farming, cattle ranching, conversions deforestation and development – have on rainforest ecosystems. We’ve devised a terse summation of the curated Cowspiracy texts with the hope of illustrating the ecological costs associated with land misuse.

Ecological Degradation

Rainforest ecosystems are inhabited by more plant and animal species than any other terrestrial ecosystem. The Cowspiracy Facts page states in one of its Rainforest subtitles that “the leading cause of rainforest destruction are livestock and feed crops”. Clearing forests to make way for land pastures and agriculture feed plots is done in Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador to meet the demand for American beef. Cattle ranching is a low cost, low maintenance operation to run in the tropics. Cattle ranching generates profit for land owners, farmers and distributors.

Nonetheless, livestock feeding plots require sections of forests and other vegetation to be cleared first to make space for pastures and animal crops. Clearing vegetation can increases risks to various processes that rainforest vegetation help carry out, including enhanced water absorption into soils, sequestration of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, summoning rainfall, providing nutrients to plant-consuming species and serving as habitats for arboreal species. These are examples of ecosystem services provided to rainforest environments and the species within them. Services like these emerge from the biological, chemical and physical functions in rainforest environments.

wild tropical flowers
tropical flowers

“What Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret” Says About Rainforests

The growth of human populations has driven our demand for food and textiles to rise, which has ramped up animal agriculture in tropical forests. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agriculture approximately 15% of the Amazon forest has been removed due to agricultural practices since 1960s. Of the land being used by humans, 80% of it is dedicated to grazing areas for horses, cattle, sheep, or pigs. Put another way, cattle ranching for agriculture is the central use of land in the Amazon basin, which includes Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana, Surinam and French Guyana. These regions are subjected to slash and burn clearing before feeding pastures can be established. Therefore, cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Amazon Basin. On top of that, animal agriculture contributes to methane emissions, ocean acidification and worsened air quality.

Save The Amazon

Savetheamazon.org refers to the plant and animal species of the Amazonian rainforests as its “wealth’. The site posits that up to 80% of developed nation’s diets are sourced from tropical rainforests. Our fruits, (avocados, coconuts, figs, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, pineapples, and tomatoes) vegetables (corn, potatoes and yams) spices, (cayenne, chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, sugar cane, turmeric) have their origins in tropical ecosystems.

Without these contributions, the diets of developed nations would be severely restricted. Equally as important, rainforests like the Amazon help abate flooding by storing tremendous amounts of rainwater in its plants and soils. However, the continued functionality of tropical rainforests depends on how sustainably we use the land. Harvesting from rainforests at rates faster than they are able to naturally replenish themselves may contribute to permanent changes of the ecological structures within rainforests.

What Are Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystems services are benefits to human welfare made possible by processes of the natural world. Modern livelihoods depend on nature for various services, materials and ingredients. Micro-bacteria in marine ecosystems produce oxygen. Plants and soils regulate our climate through capturing and storing carbon dioxide in the air. Wetlands curb flooding for coastal territories. Medicines are pulled from various kinds of plants like sage, ginger, turmeric and aloe vera. Ecosystems play a critical role in managing biological diversity, and supporting the food webs, species abundance and habitat variety which produce ecosystem services.

What then, are ecosystem services? They are natural capital, the biotic and abiotic benefits that people obtain from natural environments, plants, microscopic bacteria and animals. The 2006 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) outlined four distinct categories of ecosystem services to help map the different kinds of benefits provided by habitats and natural environments. The categories are useful for identifying how an ecosystem service is beneficial, and perhaps hint at the value of the service.

Though it is impossible to put a price figure on nature’s contributions, we may determine the value of an ecosystem service by its utility, either for humanity, other species or the ecological system itself. Categorizing these services is useful for policy and research purposes. Which may be the reason that conservation efforts are usually designed to manage, protect or enhance an environment because human welfare-interests or economic motives. Overuse of an ecosystem’s resources is characterized by accelerated rates of species loss, habitat destruction, deforestation, changes in climate and pollution.

Four Types of Ecosystem Services

There are four main types of ecosystem services: provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural. Each one of these classifications describes unique qualities made possible by ecological systems. A single ecosystem may encompass multiple types of services or it may offer only one.

managed park garden
managed ecosystem; garden

Provisioning Services

Provisioning ecosystem services are the substantive, or material benefits that humanity derives from ecosystems. This type of service includes raw materials like wood, fresh water, metals and medicinal herbs. Foods too are provisioning services, as they supply communities of people with the nutrients they need. Most human foods are grown on farms, synthesized from natural ingredients or extracted from animal stores. In any case, our foods and medicines are sourced from nature’s processes in some capacity or another.

Regulating Services

Regulating ecosystem services are sometime known as managing services. Services of this type governs various cycles and processes of the ecosystem. Regulating services play essential roles in managing the water cycle, the carbon cycle, soil quality, crop pollination and water purification. Regulating services also moderates climate and the intensity and frequency of weather events.

Supporting Services

The natural processes within ecosystems are part of the ecosystem’s own continued survival, health and maturity. As ecosystems mature, they grow more complex, supporting greater profiles of species richness and allow more interactions between organisms. Supporting services refer to an ecosystem’s capacity to sustain various forms of life and the operations that keep the ecosystem functioning.

Cultural Services

Our art, architecture, knowledge, religions, tourism and recreational practices are all influenced by cultural services. Cultural services are the non material contributions that we derive from the natural world.

Here’s Why Epicurious Left Beef Recipes Behind

slab of raw beef
slab of raw beef

This year, the food company Epicurious decided that it would not add anymore beef recipes to its “recipe’s list”. The company stated that it will no longer feature recipes that include beef on its homepage or social media feed. Epicurious made it obvious that they were leaving beef behind for climate change, and posted that “… think of this decision as not anti-beef but rather pro-planet”. In this decision, Epicurious supports sustainable agriculture in more ways that one.

Why Has Epicurious Banned Beef Recipes?

To promote sustainable agriculture, Epicurious will not longer add beef recipes to its site. The consequences of unsustainable farming practices are most apparent in water and land use. Livestock animals eat massive amounts of vegetation so that they can meet their caloric requirements. Cows are large animals and are costly to raise to maturity. Just one dairy cow may consume tens of thousands more calories than any human does, and their calories come strictly for plants. Growing enough food for livestock limits the amount of land and water that could be used for human consumable crops. Livestock animals also need space to roam, play and interact.

Why Are Cows Bad for the Environment?

We must be tactful in how we use land, as it is not an unlimited asset. The same is true of our air. Methane is an element of natural gas found in underground reserves, produced in land-fills and released during enteric fermentation in ruminants, like cows. As mentioned in Epicurious’ blog post, “Every Question You Have About Cattle, Climate, and Why Epicurious Is Done With Beef”, the crops fed to livestock is made using pesticides and fertilizer that are derived from fossil fuels.

When that feed is metabolized in cows, it is converted into manure that is then spread over fields or runs off into water ways. In certain water systems, organic waste introduces excess nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, and facilitates algae overgrowth. Algae blooms deplete the oxygen and sunlight from surface water ecosystems, causing illness and sometimes death in other species within the environment. On land, manure releases nitrous oxide and methane into airways and drives rising temperatures. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that in 2019, 10 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions came from its agriculture sector.

Epicurious has expressed that not eating beef is a means to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Here at ecoTreatise, we believe pork, chicken, seafood and dairy may also be left behind if chefs are looking to further reduce their overall environmental impacts. Sustainable lifestyles require that we be mindful of the water, land and energy intensity of the products we consume.

Is Indigo Farming A Nature-Based Solution?

Indigo Agriculture aims to improve carbon sequestration in commercial and private farm soils as a climate change mitigation strategy. On the face of it, this solution seems viable. With the use of their microbial seed inoculants, Indigo farming increases soil health and carbon sequestration as a result, which makes measurable improvements in crop yields.

Better farming practices allows plants and soils to take in more water and nutrients and produces larger quantities of healthy crops. More crops with better health. This amounts to more carbon sequestration in crops and soils that have received the Indigo treatment. But will farming practices be enough to address climate change on a global scale?

converted monoculture plot
converted monoculture plot

What Are Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions are practices which protect, sustainably manage, restore or otherwise enhance natural ecosystems in an effort to limit the effects of climate change by increasing natural resiliency. Natural environments already possess the ability to recover after losses from things like wildfire damage, storms or volcanic eruption. Changes like these often degrade ecosystems and can take decades or perhaps centuries to recover from naturally.

Given sufficient time, however, nutrients reoccur in the environment, vegetation regrows and species return. Nature-based solutions are human’s way of supplementing nature’s regenerative aptness. Nature-based solutions may include reforesting, rewilding and bioengineering techniques. The intention is to assist ecosystems as they nurse themselves back to health through natural processes.

The greatest carbon sinks are biological stores – plants, macrobacteria and animals, soils, and bodies of water. Without sinks, greenhouse gases are unable to cycle through Earth, instead, they remain in our atmosphere and add to average heat maximums. Though we can not undo the colossal impact that we’ve anthropogenic activity have already had on biodiversity and natural habitats, we can limit our impact moving forward. Nature-based solutions enable ecospheres to regulate climate and secure climate stabilization.

Can Indigo Agriculture Address Climate Change On A Global Scale?

Managed ecosystems should not be overlooked as they as meaningful climate action. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization five billion hectares. In other words, about 38 percent of all land being used globally is dedicated to farming techniques in some fashion. As human populations grow, so too does our reliance on nature’s contributions. Indigo Agriculture may help set a new standard in farming strategies, or at least cause farmers to rethink large scale farming operations.

Soils that have been damaged from over-fertilization and monoculture practices can be given new hope with Indigo Agriculture‘s patented technology. Farming practices that discourage plant diversity through herbicide use or over use pesticides degrade soil quality over time. Degraded soils are usually less fertile, meaning that they absorb less water, take in fewer nutrients and support less plant life than otherwise healthy soils. Damaged soils are characterized by disease, poor nutrient absorption, inefficient water absorption and inferior crop yields. Indigo farming improves disease resistance, nutrient and water intake and severe weather resilience. Improving plant health, diversity and overall growth will allow for more nutrients and water to flow down into soils.