How Does Rice Cultivation Contribute to Global Methane Emissions?

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This article is a continuation to my earlier articles upon climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the influence of methane in Earth´s atmosphere. Access some of my previous articles here:

Climate Forcing Methane

Methane Release Poses Climate Risks

Climate Amplifier Methane

Methane is an Environmental Wildcard

In brief, methane is a greenhouse gas at least 22 times as powerful as carbon dioxide. It can be found naturally in Earth´s environment: for instance, permafrost in the Arctic region is a significant “storage room” for methane. Due to its powerful qualities as an energy source, methane is a key ingredient in the fossil fuel energy sector, i.e. oil and gas industries. What may be surprising to many is that one of the main emitters of climate amplifier methane is the agriculture and farming sector. In this article, we will take a closer look at rice cultivation, which alone accounts for around 10% (per cent) of all methane emissions worldwide.

According to the Rice Association, rice is being cultivated in more than one hundred (100) countries worldwide, with Antarctica being the only continent with no rice cultivation. With majority of all rice being consumed where cultivated, rice is the main source of food for half of world population. Today, world population is almost 7,6 billion. Hence, at least 3,8 billion people worldwide currently depend on rice as their main source of food. See the nutritional value here: Fineli – Rice, Boiled Without Salt.

With the many varieties of rice being cultivated in different countries, only a handful of these are being marketed. In Finland, for instance, a consumer can find basmati rice, jasmine rice, full corn rice, dark rice, white rice, various kinds of risotto rice under different labels/producers, porridge rice, and a number of other rice products such as rice cakes. Despite of being a widely cultivated crop/grain, at least 90% of all rice grows on the Asian continent.

Some of the major concerns of rice cultivation is the fact that it consumes more than 33% (one third) of all irrigation water worldwide. (KULUTTAJA – Velaksi viljelty basmatiriisi). One grain, one food product, which wastes more water than any other agricultural product. In times of water scarcity, and hundreds of millions of people worldwide with no access to clean water, this is a waste of energy and a waste of our most valuable natural resource: fresh water. If you have ever seen a rice field in nature, or e.g. on TV, you are aware of how a rice field looks like: covered with water, a rice field is not only a huge absorbent of fresh irrigation water, but also an optimal environment for methane to thrive. The production of one single kilo rice consumes up to 5.000 liters of water.

IRRI, the International Rice Research Institute, states on its website that the amount of rice lands globally is around 150.000.000 (150 million) hectares, half of which are under continuous irrigation. Furthermore, according to IRRI,within less than a decade at least 10-15% of irrigated rice fields will suffer from water scarcity. IRRI has been working for decades in improving methods and technologies in rice cultivation, through science and research. Despite of its high methane emissions and the amount of water needed for cultivation, IRRI estimates that our world needs up to 10.000.000 tons more rice each year to ensure food security for world population. Moreover, vast areas of rice-cultivating lands face risks due to climate change, such as destructive floods. Rice alone is not a sufficient source of nutrition: a large amount of rice eaters suffer from malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency. (IRRI Brochure).

Learn more by watching “Climate-friendly rice farming in the Philippines | Global Ideas” by DW English:

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

 

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Is Agriculture Responsible For Climate Change?

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“FAO Strategy on Climate Change. Rome, July 2017. Agriculture and food systems are partly responsible for increased temperatures but are also a fundamental part of the solution to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and promote adaptation to a changing climate.”

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Agriculture, being the third largest industry in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, is partly responsible for climate change. Especially animal farming, including all dairy and meat products, which is part of the truth to why so many people today change their lifestyles completely, turning into either vegetarians or vegans (the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan is simply that in addition to not consuming any meat, vegans also do not consume ANY kinds of dairy products, i.e. products stemming from animals, such as milk, cheese, and eggs. Even in wine production, egg white is sometimes used in the production process of wine clarification, so vegans are extremely careful about their diets.

According to many dietitians, eating less red meat is also part of a healthy diet. And, of course, consuming more plant-based products, such as fruits and vegetables. Of course no one can be forced into changing their current diet due to climate change. Everyone has their own preferences, but taking into consideration one´s health and overall well-being, it is extremely important to find a suitable balance in how and what to consume.

If you want to be climate-friendly in terms of agriculture/farming and eating habits, in addition to taking better care of your personal health and well-being, here are some useful tips:

  • Check your drinking and eating habits, e.g. by starting to use a food diary (even for a week or for a month). List everything that you eat, including snacks, sweets, and drinks.
  • Drink more fresh water. It is very beneficial for your overall health, and will help you feel less hungry.
  • Make sure to eat at regular hours. It is very important in order to keep e.g. your sugar levels stable.
  • Consume more fresh products, such as fruits, salads and vegetables. In addition to making you feel more energized, you can basically eat as much of these without gaining weight.
  • Consume as much local products as possible, whereby you are not only helping local farmers and businesses, but you can also more easily check/learn about the production methods. Also try to consume fresh products according to season, if you have changes in season where you live.
  • Become interested in how and what you consume. Care about what you eat, and how it makes you feel. If you constantly feel tired, gain weight etc., there may be something wrong with your diet. Also make sure to eat enough, it can be equally harmful to your health to eat too little.
  • Try to always have enough time for eating, i.e. by slowing down your eating habits. Appreciate the food you consume.

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

Take a step further to create YOUR online business. Learn more about the many benefits of how to create a beautiful website with WordPress.com and how to monetize your blog/website:

WordPress.com – Create A Beautiful Website

Jetpack – The ideal way to experience WordPress – Code-free Customization

WooCommerce – The most customizable eCommerce platform for building your online business