Richard Waite Profile picture
Sr. Research Associate @WorldResources @WRIFood | Author “Creating a Sustainable Food Future” | #CoolFood Data Lead | Land Sector GHG Accounting | own views
4 May
Everyone wants to make agriculture regenerative.

What does that actually mean? @joefassler scratches below the surface and finds...#itscomplicated.…
Are we talking about scaling up specific agricultural practices? Are we talking about achieving broader outcomes? And are those outcomes purely environmental, or are they also economic and social and ethical? Depends who you ask:
Even a commonly-mentioned benefit of regenerative agriculture—soil carbon sequestration to help mitigate climate change—gets complicated when you take a closer look, as we have written previously:…
Read 4 tweets
4 May
Interesting article by @Sarah_Derouin about agroforestry in the US Midwest. Potential benefits mentioned include soil stabilization, water filtration/retention, diversification of revenue streams, C sequestration. Some pics of alley cropping/windbreaks:… 1/
In the Peace Corps in Cameroon in the early 2000s I worked w/ farmers to promote alley cropping. One obstacle I often heard from farmers: planting trees can also mean planting less of what was "monocropped" before & farmers were hesitant to take land out of annual production. 2/
The theory goes that the new revenue streams (e.g., nut or fruit trees, fodder for animals) or reduced costs (e.g., N fertilizer needs) can offset the foregone crop production & it pencils out for the farmer, but would love to know more about how that works in the US context. 3/
Read 7 tweets
3 May
Time will tell, but I doubt the world will look back on 2020 as the year of “peak cow.” Still too many trends pushing global meat (including beef) demand upward—although 2020 may turn out to be a downward blip in consumption, as it was in GHG emissions.…
COVID created all kinds of market disruptions in 2020 (…). But remember the world is likely to add another 2 billion people between now and 2050, incomes will likely rise, cities will grow. Historically these are all associated with rising meat consumption.
On the left is meat production since the 1960s. On the right is fish production since the 1950s.

The world did reach “peak wild fish” in the 1990s, and since then aquaculture (fish farming) has grown quickly to meet growing global fish demand.
Read 4 tweets
21 Jan
Interesting article about tradeoffs b/t solar/wind expansion & conservation, due to land requirements. It's not trivial: recent Princeton study says net-zero might require >144M acres of land dedicated to wind/solar, an area larger than California! 1/2…
I'd point out an additional comparison: solar is WAY more land-efficient than bioenergy. On most lands, solar would produce *100x* as much useable energy/acre vs. bioenergy. (US already dedicates >30M acres of cropland to ethanol, producing only 7% of US transport fuel.) 2/2
So yes, solar & wind require land, but are way more land-efficient than bioenergy. Bioenergy also requires productive land that could produce food or store carbon if not used for bioenergy. So let's expand solar & wind, but do so thoughtfully, balancing other land-use goals. 3/3
Read 5 tweets
13 May 20
Can increasing carbon sequestration in soils—through practices broadly referred to as regenerative agriculture—be a leading climate solution? Our read of the evidence suggests that soil C sequestration has limited potential to mitigate climate change. 1/…
Although regenerative agriculture has no universal definition, it is often used to describe practices aimed at promoting soil health & restoring soil organic C.

Practices include no-till, cover crops, diverse crop rotations, improved grazing, and reduced chemical inputs. 2/
There is broad agreement that regenerative agriculture practices are good for soil health and have other environmental benefits, including water retention and reduced water pollution. 3/
Read 12 tweets
22 Mar 20
Thread: Delicious dishes from Cameroon 🇨🇲 with recipes. 1/
Ndole: often referred to as Cameroon’s national dish. Made with a bitter leaf, but spinach or other green will do in a pinch. Includes peanuts and meat or fish, can be eaten with plantains or another starch. 2/
Fufu and njama njama: cornmeal (like polenta) with huckleberry leaves (again other greens can sub in) fried with tomato, onion, and hot pepper. In Cameroon I lived next to a family from the North West Region and ate this a lot.… 3/
Read 14 tweets
10 Dec 19
Thread: You've probably heard of peak oil (hasn't happened yet). You may have heard of peak wild fish (happened in 1990s). But are we near peak beef? @davidfickling took a look at some of the trends. Below are a few thoughts. 1/…
@davidfickling It's clear that per capita beef consumption has peaked in places like the U.S. and Europe, where it's been declining since the 1970s (and largely replaced in diets by chicken). I discussed some of these trends here:… 2/
@davidfickling But globally are we near peak production & consumption? If you look at the graph below, it seems like it. However, I'm not sure that presenting beef production like a compounding bank account tells the clearest story. The denominator has grown a *lot*, thus % growth is down. 3/
Read 14 tweets
30 Oct 19
Hi @UN - great to see some advice on food-related climate action, but the best 2 rules of thumb to reduce diet-related emissions (in high-income countries) are minimizing food waste and eating a plant-rich diet:…. 1/
@UN ~6% of global food GHGs from transport, so local food is not a leading climate strategy.…

Re: organic, higher land use (lower yields) means GHGs can actually increase; halting deforestation while feeding 10B is a key challenge.… 2/2
Read 4 tweets
24 Sep 19
It's #ClimateWeek2019, so let's have a THREAD about carbon opportunity costs, since we can't keep warming below 2°C (let alone 1.5°) without halting deforestation - and probably reforesting large areas. How we produce and consume food has a large bearing on what's possible. 1/
In recent years, agriculture and associated land-use change have been responsible for roughly a quarter of total annual GHG emissions from all sectors. The data below are from 2010 (Source: 2/
Those numbers above are from GHG emissions in a recent year. But massive amounts of former forest land have already been cleared for agriculture, which currently occupies nearly half of the world's vegetated lands. And agriculture remains the leading driver of deforestation. 3/
Read 25 tweets
3 May 18
Thread: let's talk a bit more about the recent study that estimated the environmental impacts of U.S. food waste--and also included the finding that healthier diets actually result in higher amounts of food waste. 1/…
First, the wasted resources are huge: an area of cropland the size of Pennsylvania (and that doesn't even count grazing land!), 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water, and 6 billion pounds of fertilizer each year. 1/4 of food (by weight) and 30% (by calories) wasted. Yikes! 2/
And the tradeoff expressed most simply: wasted food, by weight, grows from ~300g to >500g per capita per day as diet quality improves, because fruits and vegetables (of which more are present in a high quality diet) are also wasted more often than other foods. 3/
Read 13 tweets