Agriculture accounts for approximately 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and it is also associated with impacts on human health through food consumption and agricultural air pollutant emissions. These impacts are often quantified separately because there is a lack of modelling tools to facilitate integrated assessments.
This work addresses this gap. It introduces a new model that integrates assessment of agricultural systems on (i) human health indirectly (through dietary, obesity and malnutrition health risks from food consumption), (ii) human health directly (through exposure to air pollutants from agricultural emissions), and (iii) greenhouse gas emissions.
The authors apply the model to the 2014–2018 time frame to assess the robustness of the greenhouse gas emissions and the health burden results produced by the integrated modelling framework compared to those from previous studies that have quantified these variables independently.
The health impacts that they find show that there are substantial opportunities to design integrated strategies that mitigate climate change and improve human health. The findings also highlight possible trade-offs that the expansion of agricultural production could have as the result of increased emissions.
The model provides for the consistent evaluation of the implications of different agricultural strategies to meet food demand while minimising human health and climate change impacts.