THE BLOG
11/24/2014 04:08 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2015

Even Thanksgiving Is Connected to Climate Change

It's nearly Thanksgiving, and while we all will -- and should -- count our many blessings, you're forgiven if your thoughts eventually turn to the mouth-watering traditions of the holiday feast.

So when my friend John Mandyck, global chief sustainability officer of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, said he had some food-related thoughts he wanted to share, since we're both from Central New York, I was anticipating some long-forgotten recipe for corn pudding, or oyster stuffing, or some equally seasonally and locally appropriate contribution to the holiday table.

Instead, he sent me a blog he recently had penned for Greenbiz. It's about the connection of food spoilage to climate change, and I think the thoughts he captured are worth sharing. His premise is thought provoking, and, given the season, something to keep in mind especially as you finalize the menu for your upcoming family gathering.

Here's an excerpt:

So much of the food produced globally is wasted, and the environmental impact of that waste and spoilage is so great, that we could have a material impact on climate change by committing to reduce it... The United Nations estimates that one-third of all food produced never reaches our tables. Other studies suggest that food loss could be closer to 40 or 50 percent.

But even at the U.N.'s estimate, food loss represents 3.3 billion metric tons of CO2 each year... It's hard to imagine a more inefficient system, especially when it comes to the critical role of feeding our planet. If all that inefficiency was measured in terms of what nations do, food loss would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, just behind China and the United States.

This situation presents an extraordinary opportunity. Food loss is a significant contributor to global warming but much can be done to reduce it without having to invent new technologies.

Avoiding food loss also has the obvious immediate benefit of feeding more people. One in eight people today is malnourished. Reducing food loss not only will feed more people, it can be an essential strategy to nourish the more than 2 billion people we'll add to the Earth by 2050...

Here's the link to the entire article, which I encourage you to read in full.

I have to say, because I spend all my time focusing on buildings and their impact on climate change, I hadn't considered that this is one more area where we can all make a big contribution to climate change mitigation. Come Thursday, I'm going to change that.

Thanks, John.