I'm Sarah, a Professor at The University of Manchester. I'm using my astrophysics research background to identify ways to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions... from food. Ask me Anything!
EDIT 2PM: This AMA is now closed - thank you so much for all your fantastic questions!
Hi Reddit, Sarah here! I have been studying dark matter and dark energy for the last 20 years, but when my kids started school I started to think about our own planet in the next 20 years and beyond. I learned about climate change properly for the first time, how it threatens worldwide food production, and how food causes about a quarter of all global warming. I wanted to know how much each of my food choices was contributing, and why. Did you know, if we stopped burning fossil fuels, food would be the biggest contributor to climate change?
I delved into the academic research literature, and summarized the results in simple charts. The charts make it easy for the non-specialist to see the impacts of different meal options, and show that some easy food switches can reduce food greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent. Most of us make many food choices every day, and by changing these we can significantly reduce climate change caused by food, and free up land that can be used to help reduce climate change overall.
There is an impending perfect storm of pressure on our food production system, with increasing population and changing consumer tastes, in the face of rising temperatures and extreme weather events. Tim Gore, head of food policy and climate change for Oxfam, said “The main way that most people will experience climate change is through the impact on food: the food they eat, the price they pay for it, and the availability and choice that they have.”. Yet, at the same time, food production causes about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and this is rising as the population increases and becomes more affluent.
My book, Food and Climate Change -- Without the Hot Air, is published today by UIT Cambridge in 2020 www.sarahbridle.net/faccwtha #faccwtha You can get the e-book for free, thanks to funding from the University of Manchester e.g. in the UK the free ebook is available from amazon here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Food-Climate-Change-without-hot-ebook/dp/B0873WWT6W You can watch the launch recording here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsCIf4Q_y_0 Most of the facts and figures in my replies below are explained in more detail there - with full references to the original research literature.
Check out the free resources we developed for interacting with the public to share the scientific consensus on how different foods contribute to climate change here www.takeabitecc.org e.g. you can see lots of videos aimed at younger audiences here www.takeabitecc.org/AtHome or download our free Climate Food Flashcards www.takeabitecc.org/flashcards or play our free Climate Food Challenge http://climatefoodchallenge.online/game/
You can also watch my TEDxManchester talk on food and climate change here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y7RHsXSW00