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Climate Change and Food Security in Australia

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Citizens of Australia are, for the most part, lucky enough to enjoy its very high food security with readily available food and produce. However there are a variety of issues that may impact our food security in the near future, a major issue being climate change. Climate change is undoubtedly one of the largest problems that Australia and indeed the world is currently facing. It causes fluctuations in weather patterns and temperatures and result in many types of crops being unable to grow. As our population increases so does our consumption rates and the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted. Unfortunately, excess of these greenhouse gases is the main cause of climate change and global warming, an issue that could not only damage the world's environments and their inhabitants but also lead to a lack of food security in many countries including Australia. 

Climate change and global warming is the result of an increase in greenhouse gases, which include methane and carbon dioxide emissions. With the world's population growing by some 75 million people each year our demand for fossil fuels (like coal, oil and gas) to power our factories, energy sources and means of transport has also grown. Ceasing the use of fossil fuels for transport would greatly improve how we stand in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and our contribution to global warming. However, at this stage, where almost everything we do as humans requires the use of fossil fuels, this solution is unrealistic and most likely wouldn't work. A better solution would be to have a less excessive meat production industry. With livestock farming making up 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, not only is this solution more realistic, but also more effective than eliminating the use of fossil fuels, with global transport only making up 13% of greenhouse gas emissions. Even though it may seem counter-intuitive;  downsizing one of Australia's largest food industries to better our food security, creating a less excessive meat production industry would greatly reduce our contribution to global warming and could actually create even more food, which we will talk about later in the presentation.

There are a variety of positive and negative social impacts that could arise as a result of having a less excessive and environmentally taxing meat industry. Meat, particularly beef, is a staple of the typical Australian diet and many Australians will be very unhappy with the prospect of having less steak and sausages at their next barbecue. However this is a necessary sacrifice if we want to contribute less to global warming and ensure our food security in the future. This negative social impact is also heavily outweighed by the fact that if we have a less excessive meat industry, we will have much more of other types of food. All the grains and soya produce that are given to livestock for food, could be used to feed humans. In 2011, 883 million tons of corn, and 260 million tons of soybeans were grown globally. However, on average, 40-50% of that corn, and 80% of those soybeans are fed to farmed animals, rather than being eaten directly by humans. Scientists have reached the conclusion that if all the food fed to animals were fed directly to humans, 70% more food would be added to the world's supply, enough to feed an extra 4 billion people, which could cure world hunger four times over. So not only would making a less excessive meat industry help global warming, but it could directly provide food security for Australia and the world for years to come.

Economically speaking, the meat industry provides jobs and money for Australians all over the country, and downsizing the industry would result in unemployment on a national scale. However, again, this is merely a short term issue and is a sacrifice that must be made. With worldwide hunger, famine and starvation on the line a short term loss of jobs and a dint in the Australian economy is hardly worth considering. Not to mention there are some positive economic impacts that could come as a result of a less excessive meat production industry. There would be less equipment, machinery, land and housing required for these livestock, meaning the industry would cost less in the long run. Other job opportunities, previously unavailable, may arise in other food industries such as corn and soya.

In terms of how the environment would be effected, there are very few, if any, negative environmental impacts worth considering that would come as a result of less meat production. There are, however, a multitude of positive impacts such as a decline in CO2, methane and other greenhouse gas emissions that are produced as a result of the machinery, equipment and the livestock themselves. There would also be a lot less deforestation. Rainforests, which are needed to absorb the world’s copious amounts of CO2 emissions, are being

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