Our Ridiculously Massive Food Waste Is Driving Climate Change

"Part of the climate crisis is our food consumption style in Western countries."

Humans waste an exorbitant amount of food -- more than 1.4 billion tons annually.

That's roughly 400 million tons more than the weight of Japan's Mount Fuji, which rises 2.3 miles above sea level.

If combating global hunger wasn't reason enough to reverse the disturbing trend, new research suggests that reducing food waste could drastically help in the fight against climate change.

Jürgen Kropp, co-author of a new study looking at how today's surplus of food is burdening the planet, said it's no secret the Western world is responsible for today's emergency.

"Part of the climate crisis," Kropp told The Huffington Post, "is our food consumption style in Western countries."

Peter Dazeley via Getty Images

The study, published Thursday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that while consumption hasn't changed much over the last 50 years, the global surplus of food increased roughly 65 percent. The production of more and more food results in huge amounts of greenhouse gases being emitted, but hasn't reduced the number of people going hungry.

According to the study, avoiding agricultural food waste could help prevent climate impacts such as weather extremes and sea-level rise.

“[A]griculture is a major driver of climate change, accounting for more than 20 percent of overall global greenhouse-gas emissions in 2010," co-author Prajal Pradhan said in a statement. "Avoiding food loss and waste would therefore avoid unnecessary greenhouse-gas emissions and help mitigate climate change."

Each year, roughly one-third of the world's food gets lost or thrown away, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States. That wasted food, valued at nearly $1 trillion, could feed some 2 billion people -- a staggering number, considering that roughly 800 million people are undernourished in the world.

Unless a global effort is made to curtail the amount of food being wasted, researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research warn that by 2050, one-tenth of the agricultural sector's emissions could be traced back to the production of wasted food.

"Avoiding food loss could pose a leverage to various challenges at once, reducing environmental impacts of agriculture, saving resources used in food production, and enhance local, regional, and global food security,” Kropp said in a statement.

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Before You Go

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