Unfortunately, our weather systems and trees aren’t the only things suffering due to rising temperatures. Some of our favorite crops are also in jeopardy. A new study published in the journal Plants, People, Planet found climate change is driving wild relatives of popular crops toward extinction. That includes squash, chili pepper, potato, banana, apple, and even avocado.
“The salinity of the soil is changing, and crops don’t have the capacity to adapt. Temperatures are rising,” lead study author Bárbara Goettsch, PhD, told The Guardian. “Because of climate change, pests and diseases will also alter and this can have a massive impact on cultivated plants. We could have shortages of these foods.”
Unfortunately, more plants are at risk than you think. A 2020 report from Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, found 40% of all plants face extinction due to factors such as land clearing, over-harvesting of wild species, and—of course—changing weather patterns due to climate change.
Before you go imagining a future without avocado toast, there are a few things you can do to combat climate change right now and protect the future of these crops.
5 Ways to Combat Climate Change and Protect Our Crops
While climate change feels like an insurmountable issue, there are things you can do every day to reduce CO2 emissions and better the planet. In doing so, you make a difference in the future of our crops, human health, and more. Here’s how to get started.
1. Respect (and Protect) Green Spaces
If you look around most big cities, you’ll notice beautiful parks and gardens that are perfect spots for a picnic lunch or to take a rest after a long walk. Keeping these healthy—and even encouraging other cities to have them—is important because they provide many environmental benefits.
Some of these benefits include helping regulate temperature by cooling overheated areas, absorbing carbon dioxide, reducing flood risks by absorbing rainwater, and even giving our animal friends places to live.
2. Reduce Dairy and Meat Consumption
Because of meat’s significant environmental impact, consider swapping out your dairy and meat favorites for plant-based alternatives.
While avoiding animal products altogether is an option, even reducing your consumption, opting for smaller portions, or reaching for non-dairy alternatives when you can still reduce your overall emissions and water footprint.
3. Opt for Cleaner Transportation
If you’re in an area that’s close to a city, consider biking or walking. This is good for your mental health and the environment. You’ll also save money on gas and other car expenses.
If driving is unavoidable, you can look into trading in your current car for an electric or hybrid model that’s better for the planet.
4. Reduce Your Energy Consumption
Start small! You can do this at home, by turning off lights and appliances when you aren’t using them, replacing regular bulbs with LED light bulbs, using a water-efficient showerhead, and adopting a more eco-friendly laundry routine.
Making small changes to get into a more sustainable routine can make a big difference for the planet.
5. Be a More Conscious Consumer
As consumers, we can be smart about what we buy (and who we buy it from). Try to avoid single-use plastics and fast-fashion when possible, opt for secondhand clothing and other items, and purchase from brands that have similar eco-friendly aspirations.
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