A recent report from Greenpeace details the direct and indirect effects of agriculture on climate change and suggests how the sector can move from being a major greenhouse gas emitter to being a carbon sink. "As a key contributor to climate change, the environmental impact of industrial farming has reached critical levels," said Jan van Aken, a Greenpeace sustainable agriculture campaigner.
Agriculture, including land use changes for farming, is responsible for an estimated 17-32 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the report notes. The biggest contribution comes from overuse of fertilizers: more than half the fertilizer applied to fields each year ends up in the atmosphere or local waterways, releasing 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in the form of nitrous oxide.
Methane from livestock is the second largest direct emitter in agriculture, Greenpeace says. The clearing of forests and other natural...