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Around 90% of the world’s animals, birds, amphibians, and mammals may lose out on their natural habitats due to farm expansion by the year 2050, says a report in reputed journal Nature Sustainability. It shows that without changes in consumption patterns and farming, 26% extra farmland would be needed to feed the growing population of the world.

As many as 1300 species could lose 25 per cent of their habitat, while 96 per cent may lose 75 per cent of territories to farmland expansion. To reverse losses, people need to eat more plants and cut food waste. This confirms farming focused on livestock is driving extinction crisis by eating up habitat that wildlife need to survive on. People need to start paying closer attention to climate cost of food. We can’t afford to ignore the high cost to wildlife.

Researchers found that agricultural expansion could destroy 1.2 million square miles of habitat, area roughly around the size of India. They found that increasing agricultural yields will be critical to reduce land use impact in North America and Europe. The key solution is shifting from dairy and meat production to sustainable, plant-based food. Report suggests food waste reduction by half. Plus, such solutions cut down on greenhouse gas emissions as well as improve food security.

The point is that we can’t separate extinction crisis from our food. However, the solutions are within reach. Shifting to plant-based diets and reducing waste, people can do a lot help move toward diet better for health and wildlife.

Another study in Nature said that two-thirds of biodiversity loss could be offset by diet shifts. International Union for the Conservation of Nature has found that 27 per cent of plants and animals are threatened with extinction. Last year, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) said 1 million species are at risk of extinction in the coming years.

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