DOI: 10.1101/488841Dec 6, 2018Paper

Relocating agriculture could drastically reduce humanity's ecological footprint

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Robert M BeyerTim T Rademacher


Agriculture is a major driver of global biodiversity loss, accounts for about one third of greenhouse gas emissions, and is responsible for 70% of freshwater use. How can land be used for agriculture in a way that minimises the impact on the world's natural resources while maintaining current production levels? We solved this more than 10 million dimensional optimisation problem and find that moving current croplands and pastures to optimal locations, while allowing then-abandoned areas to regenerate, could simultaneously decrease the current carbon, biodiversity and water footprint of global agriculture by up to 71%, 93% and 100%, respectively. This would offset current net CO2 emissions for half a century, massively alleviate pressure on global biodiversity and greatly reduce freshwater shortages. Whilst these achievements would require global coordination of agricultural policies, reductions of up to 59%, 78% and close to 100% are achievable by relocating production within national borders, with the greatest potential for carbon footprint reduction held by the world's top three CO2 emitting countries.

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Carbon Dioxide
Natural Regeneration
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