Agriculture and food
Agricultural growth is a key feature of countries that have managed to reduce poverty. Increasing populations and poverty alleviation are two arguments for a need of increased agricultural efficiency and/ or expansion. At the same time, climate change effects as altered rain fall patterns presently makes farming more difficult in many areas, which also speaks for increased efficiency. Increased efficiency, however, often carries the price of depleted soils, polluted lands and waterways, and rising greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing areas of arable land leads to conflicts with targets of reducing biodiversity losses. Positive trends, however, include sustainable agricultural practices that can nourish people and support rural livelihoods, as well as protect soils and water supplies and help communities cope with a changing climate. It is also believed that modified agricultural practices can turn arable soil into an important carbon sink and thus counteract climate change.
Biofuels and bioplastics
Climate change has led to a growing interest in biofuels and bioplastics. According to a recent Worldwatch report (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6181), however, studies suggest that the environmental costs associated with the current biofuel industry, including water pollution, wildlife habitat loss, and declining freshwater resources, likely outweigh the benefits. Claims about the climate change benefits of biofuels are often inflated, as many of these fuels in production today lead to minimal, if any, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The report further emphasizes that diversification of feed stocks and technologies, including production of “second-generation” fuels such as cellulosic ethanol and “third-generation” fuels such as algae biodiesel, would provide a more stable basis for large-scale biofuel production.