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The environmental footprint of global food production

March 17, 2023 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Speaker: Dr. Ben Halpern
Professor, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara
Director, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Feeding humanity puts enormous environmental pressure on our planet. Most studies focused on this critical issue have addressed it piecemeal, one group of foods or one environmental pressure at a time. Dr. Halpern will share results from his recently published work compiling vast data on greenhouse gas emissions, freshwater use, habitat disturbance and nutrient pollution generated by 99% of total reported production of freshwater, marine and terrestrial foods (crops, livestock, fisheries, and aquaculture). He and his team mapped these pressures to produce the first ever global ‘footprint’ of food production, creating the opportunity to address many key questions. For example, they found that on land, five countries contribute nearly half of food’s cumulative footprint, and just 10% of the planet contributes 93% of this footprint. Additionally, the top five foods with the greatest environmental footprint are pigs, cows, rice, wheat, and milk. This work provides new insight into decisions about which foods we choose to eat, and how we can influence policy towards more sustainable food production.

ONLINE only: RSVP: https://oceans.ubc.ca/news-and-events/iof-seminars/weekly-seminars/