‘The Green Revolution of the 1960s raised crop yields and cut hunger – and also saved decades worth of greenhouse gas emissions, a study concludes.
‘US researchers found cumulative global emissions since 1850 would have been one third as much again without the Green Revolution’s higher yields.
‘Although modern farming uses more energy and chemicals, much less land needs to be cleared.
‘The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
‘”Converting a forest or some scrubland to an agricultural area causes a lot of natural carbon in that ecosystem to be oxidized and lost to the atmosphere,” said Steven Davis, from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University in California.”
‘”What our study shows is that these indirect impacts from converting land to agriculture outweigh the direct emissions that come from the modern, intensive style of agriculture.”
‘. . . Without the new crops – but with the growth in the human population and all the other socio-economic trends seen since the 1960s – feeding the world at current levels would mean the use of more than twice as much land as is currently used for agriculture, the researchers found.
‘Farming this way would have required less energy and use of chemicals such as fertilisers, whose production involves emissions of CO2 and whose use generates nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas.
‘However, additional emissions from the extra land clearance, releasing carbon stored in trees and soil, would have been the more important factor by far.’
More . . . (BBC News, 14 June 2010)