The Carbon Underground: reversing global warming
Date Written: 21/09/2014
Year Published: 2014
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX16779
As millions join in climate marches and other actions around the world, the mainstream focus on energy is missing the 55% of emissions that come from mismanaged land and destroyed forests. The key is to replace industrial agriculture worldwide with productive, regenerative organic farming that puts carbon back in the soil.
As thousands of farmers, ranchers, and researchers worldwide are demonstrating, by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and black soot, and qualitatively ramping up plant photosynthesis (i.e. the capacity of plants, trees, and grasses to move CO2 from the atmosphere through their roots into the soil) on billions of acres of farm land, range land, and forest, we can sequester enough CO2 to restabilize the climate.
We're talking about mobilizing the global grassroots, not as passive observers, but as active participants, producers and conscious consumers, implementing and promoting on a mass scale, tried and true, low-tech, beneficial practices that naturally sequester enormous amounts of atmospheric carbon in the soil.
These traditional, regenerative practices include no till organic farming, planned rotational grazing (carbon ranching), composting of organic wastes, the use of cover crops, planting trees, and preserving and restoring forests, wetlands, riparian zones, grasslands, peat bogs, and biodiversity.
As Courtney White, author of the recent book Grass, Soil, Hope puts it:
" ... if land that is bare, degraded, tilled, or monocropped can be restored to a healthy condition, with properly functioning carbon, water, mineral, and nutrient cycles, and covered year-round with a diversity of green plants with deep roots, then the added amount of atmospheric CO2 that can be stored in the soil is potentially high.
"Globally... soils contain about three times the amount of carbon that's stored in vegetation and twice the amount stored in the atmosphere. Since two-thirds of the earth's land mass is grassland, additional CO2 storage in the soil via better management practices, even on a small scale, could have a huge impact."