IS THERE A BALANCE?

One of the main contributors to climate change is the increase of agricultural development. This development has caused deforestation and desertification in many countries, along with issues of water runoff in over developed cities, changes in atmospheric circulation… the list goes on and on. With the worlds population growing at an exponential rate, it is also clear that while agriculture is linked with climate change, it is also currently essential for our survival. So how do we navigate the need for agriculture in our lives, and at the same time critically recognize the need for change?

For almost two decades, the United Nations has sponsored global talks, known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (http://unfccc.int/2860.php), an international treaty signed by 194 countries in 1992 to cooperatively discuss global climate change and its impact. The conferences work on the principle of consensus, meaning that any of the participating nations can hold up an agreement. The conflicts and controversies discussed are monotonously familiar: the differing obligations of industrialized and developing nations, the question of who will pay to help poor nations adapt, the urgency of protecting tropical forests, and the need to rapidly develop and deploy clean energy technologies.

I think it’s safe to say that we are all aware that deforestation contributes to climate change. The forests that are needed for clean air are being replaced with agricultural developments such as soybean plantations and for logging purposes. Forest soils are moist, but without protection from sun-blocking tree cover they quickly dry out. Trees also help the water cycle by returning water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees to fill these holes, many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.

So where is the balance? In my opinion, there doesn’t seem to be a clear solution to these problems. Is it possible for both of these issues to meet in the middle and the earth will be balanced? Or will one over ride the other? And if that does happen, what will we be left with?

-H.

“If a tree falls in the woods, and there’s no one there to hear it, how will the Environmentalists react?”

— Anonymous

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