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We absolutely can reduce the ecological footprint of humanity all the way down to zero!
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The Solution Is the Soil: How Organic Farming Can Feed the World and Save the Planet

The Solution Is the Soil: How Organic Farming Can Feed the World and Save the Planet | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it
Just over a week ago, the executive director of the Rodale Institute, Mark 'Coach' Smallwood, set out from the group's research farm in eastern Pennsylvania on a 160-mile journey to Washington, DC with a walking stick, a brimmed hat, and a simple but profound message: We can not only stop climate change. We can reverse it.

 

"There is a technology for massive planetary geoengineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization. The solution is farming. Not just business-as-usual industrial farming, but farming like the Earth matters. Farming like water and soil and land matter. Farming like clean air matters. Farming like human health, animal health and ecosystem health matters. Farming in a way that restores and even improves on soil’s natural ability to hold carbon."

 

The concept that is most critical to understand about what Rodale's research, explained Smallwood recently, "Is that we're not talking about slowing things down. We're talking about the capability of regenerative organic agriculture being able to actually reverse and draw down the excesses" of carbon and other greenhouse gases that are now overwhelming the capacity of the planet's atmosphere.

 

"We don’t have to wait for technological wizardry," reads the report, "regenerative organic agriculture can substantially mitigate climate change, now."

 

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

We *can* reverse climate change, and we *must* do so.  But we need to push in this direction as well as all the rest, because the sooner the better, and all efforts will meet with resistance.  

 

We also need to shut down the entire fossil fuel industry, and replace it with 100% renewable energy. We need to shift our economy to account for 100% of inputs and outputs, so we can recycle 100% of our resources with 0 waste.  We need to restore our forests and grasslands, repair the oceans and all biohabitats as soon as we possibly can, and it can't be soon enough because we are already way behind.

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Healing the Planet Through Photosynthesis and Carbon Sequestration

Healing the Planet Through Photosynthesis and Carbon Sequestration | Zero Footprint | Scoop.it

If we implement wise geoengineering, even eating meat could help tackle the backlog of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

With the right kind of technology, Pollan believes that eating meat can actually be good for the planet. That’s right: Raising livestock, if done properly, can reduce global warming. That’s just one element of a paradigm shift that Pollan and other experts, including Dennis Garrity, the former director general of the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi, Kenya, and Hans Herren of the Millennium Institute in Washington, D.C., are promoting. They believe that new agricultural methods wouldn’t just reduce the volume of heat-trapping gases emitted by our civilization — they would also, and more importantly, draw down the total amount of those gases that are already in the atmosphere.


"Depending on how you farm, your farm is either sequestering or releasing carbon," says Pollan. Currently, the vast majority of farms, in the United States and around the world, are releasing carbon — mainly through fertilizer and fossil fuel applications but also by plowing before planting. "As soon as you plow, you’re releasing carbon," Pollan says, because exposing soil allows the carbon stored there to escape into the atmosphere.

 

One method of avoiding carbon release is no-till farming: Instead of plowing, a tractor inserts seeds into the ground with a small drill, leaving the earth basically undisturbed. But in addition to minimizing the release of carbon, a reformed agriculture system could also sequester carbon, extracting it from the atmosphere and storing it — especially in soil but also in plants — so it can’t contribute to global warming.

 

According to Pollan, photosynthesis is "the best geoengineering method we have."


"When you have a grassland, the plants living there convert the sun’s energy into leaf and root in roughly equal amounts. When the ruminant (e.g., a cow) … grazes that grassland, it trims the height of the grass from, say, 3 feet tall to 3 inches tall. The plant responds to this change by seeking a new equilibrium: it kills off an amount of root mass equal to the amount of leaf and stem lost to grazing. The (discarded) root mass is then set upon by the nematodes, earthworms and other underground organisms, and they turn the carbon in the roots into soil. This is how all of the soil on earth has been created: from the bottom up, not the top down."

 

The upshot, both for global climate policy and individual dietary choices, is that meat eating carries a big carbon footprint only when the meat comes from industrial agriculture. "If you’re eating grassland meat," Pollan says, "your carbon footprint is light and possibly even negative."

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

How much meat might a meat eater eat if a meat eater might eat meat?

 

In other words, if we can raise livestock in a way that is actually good for the grasslands by more effectively sequestering carbon in the soil, we still need to figure out how much livestock we can consume that way?  We need to recycle our human waste back into the land as well.

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Geoengineering... a good idea? - YouTube

In this segment, the ABC's Lateline takes a look at one Canadian entrepreneur's efforts at Geoengineering, designed to increase the local fish harvests for the indigenous Haida villagers that funded the idea.

Daniel LaLiberte's insight:

It is essential to understand that we have ALREADY been doing massive geoengineering "experiments" for hundreds of years, by dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, clear-cutting forests, ozone depletion, acid rain, etc, etc.  We have to completely STOP doing all that as soon as possible, but that alone will not be enough.  Because we have very little time before major ecological catastrophes descend upon the world, we MUST also begin to undo the previous damage with some intentionally positive engineering efforts.

 

This video focuses most on the idea of creating a sulfur shield in the stratosphere, which does happen naturally when volcanoes erupt, but infrequently.  Adding iron dust to the oceans also happens naturally all the time, and on a much larger scale, so adding a bit more in particular areas is not that risky.  It is also very cheap and very effective.  Restoring forests is another geoengineering activity we need to ramp up.

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