Converting sub-Saharan Africa’s wet savannas into farmland for corn, soy or biofuels exports would strip its own people of food as the population is growing and would also come at a high environmental cost, say four Princeton researchers in a new report published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Analyzing the realistic potential to produce food for the outside world or bioenergy relative to the losses of carbon and animal biodiversity, the lands of Guinea Savanna, though sometimes seen as expendable because they’re not forested, turn out not to be low cost, said co-lead author Tim Searchinger, research scholar at WWS-STEP.
“Our paper does not merely analyze the climate costs of different lands, but does so relative to their potential food benefits,” said co-lead author Lyndon Estes, associate research scholar at WWS-STEP. “Because of Africa’s rapidly increasing needs for more food, and the high environmental costs of agriculture, it is important to perform this analysis on a more detailed level in each country to determine which lands would produce the most crops for the least environmental cost.” Other Princeton authors of the paper include Dan Rubenstein and Rachel Licker, a postdoctoral research associate with WWS-STEP. (See more…)