When you think about what’s driving climate change, do you picture smokestacks and auto tailpipes? Well, you should also be visualizing farms and fields.

A new study from atmospheric scientists Xiaoming Xu and Atul Jain shines a light on the role of food production in global warming. The two scholars combined modeling and databases to create a tool for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from every phase of food production – from planting crops to managing livestock manure. They found that food production accounts for over one-third of human-made greenhouse gas emissions and spotlight some of the biggest contributors, such as beef and rice. Their research could provide valuable insights on how to target policy toward lower-carbon farming practices and diets.

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  • Jennifer Weeks

    Senior Environment + Energy Editor

    A farmer walks through a rice paddy in India’s northeastern state of Assam. Buu Boro /AFP via Getty Images

    Food production generates more than a third of manmade greenhouse gas emissions – a new framework tells us how much comes from crops, countries and regions

    Xiaoming Xu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Atul Jain, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    A new study provides a detailed way to calculate the climate impact of food production, which could lead to more sustainable farming policies and methods.

    Economy + Business

    Environment + Energy

    Politics + Society

    Ethics + Religion


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      Lindsay Fernández-Rhodes, Penn State

      Mexican Americans who have more formal education than their parents are much less likely to have Type 2 diabetes, new research finds.

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      Barnett Berry, University of South Carolina

      Microschools might be an attractive alternative to regular public schools that are wrestling with the pandemic, but they are mostly out of reach for low-income students, a researcher says.

    Arts + Culture

    Science + Technology

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