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AG704 Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability Convenor: Dr. John A Finn Dr. Julian Park.

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Presentation on theme: "AG704 Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability Convenor: Dr. John A Finn Dr. Julian Park."— Presentation transcript:

1 AG704 Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability Convenor: Dr. John A Finn Dr. Julian Park

2 Objectives w Introduce the module w Introduce website w Provide a historical perspective that outlines why sustainability has become an issue w Discuss Sustainability as a concept

3 AG704 Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability w What issues/questions do you expect to encounter in this module?

4 Specific examples of issues: w Soil erosion and land degradation w Genetically modified crops w Pollution w Climate change and consequences w Irrigation w Agrochemical usage w Profitability of farming w Precautionary principle w Renewable energy, polluter-pays principle w Rate of consumption of non-renewables

5 Examples of the BIG issues: w Population growth w Food production to match population growth w Resource consumption per capita and total rates of consumption, renewal w Limits on science and technology w Limits on the environment

6 In a nutshell: w The current human presence and scale of activity on Earth is truly unique: never before in Earth's history have there existed so many people, each using so many resources and involving such a degree of manipulation of Earth's ecosystems.

7 Perspectives from history w Development of human population size w Development of agriculture as an (extremely effective ) agent of environmental change w What are the consequences of these developments?

8 A (very) brief history of Agriculture w Until about years ago- hunter-gatherer 2-20m w Domestication of crops w Human settlement, civilisation w 1800 Global agricultural evolution (1 billion) nutritious and productive foods from foreign countries (maize, potato etc), modern rotations, science applied to agriculture, w 1950 Green Revolution (2.5 billion) plant breeding and genetics, fertilisers, pesticides w 2000 ?????????????? (6 billion) w 2050(8-10 billion)

9 Agriculture and environmental change w Agricultural ecosystems have caused four species (barley, maize, rice and wheat) to occupy about 40% of global cropland as monocultures w simplification and homogenisation of world’s ecosystems w What will be the impacts of a further doubling in food production? (Tilman, 1999 )

10 Consequences of these developments w Unprecedented rate and scale of resource consumption e.g. energy (O/H) w Conversion of natural ecosystems w Environmental degradation at local and global scales w Short-term gains with ignorance of long- term consequences w Food production to match population? See volume 96

11 In a nutshell: w The current human presence and scale of activity on Earth is truly unique: never before in Earth's history have there existed so many people, each using so many resources and involving such a degree of manipulation of Earth's ecosystems.

12 Sustainability- Brundtland definition w Sustainable development meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. ( Brundtland 1987) w ‘Needs’ and ‘Limitations’ w For an introductory discussion of the concept/definition of sustainability: Spedding, C.R.W., 1996, Agriculture and the citizen.

13 Fig. 1. Based on FAO data, world food production, measured as the sum of cereals, coarse grains and root crops, almost doubled from 1961 to A linear regression, and 95% and 99% confidence intervals for the regression, are shown.


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