Saturday, October 10, 2009
Over a year ago, I wrote a blog called "Is Organic Food Really Worth More Money" in which I touched on the destruction synthetic fertilizers and modern-day farming methods are having on our ecosystems worldwide. Now, it is becoming more acceptable that farming return to the old methods in an effort to turn the tide of global warming.
Organic soils such as those seen here could sequester 40% of global carbon emissions. Image source: Rodale Institute stock.
The scales of sustainability are definitely tipping toward the decline. The recommended safe level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we ourselves have set is 350 ppm (parts per million); and, today our atmosphere has carbon dioxide levels of 386 ppm.
Ooops! Looks like we might have finally gone too far this time.
However, there may be an answer with a retro twist – organic farming. After all, before the invention of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers, all farming was organic farming. There was no other choice.
According to a report by Tim J. LaSalle, Ph.D., CEO and Paul Hepperly, Ph.D., Director of Research and Fulbright Scholar of Rodale Institute “organic farming could pull forty percent of global greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere -- each year”.
Soil samples managed organically, on left, and chemically, on right.
The US Senate’s climate bill has set a cap on the greenhouse gas emissions Americans and their businesses can emit; and, have started a rewards program for the people and organizations that reduce their impact on the climate system.
As the bill stands now farmers are not neither allowed carbon credits nor given a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases that they can emit. This makes no sense since farmers can store atmospheric carbon dioxide in their soil as soil organic carbon which is carbon-credit worthy; but, they should also have a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases they can emit since agriculture is responsible for 15% of the US yearly emissions.
So how does agriculture account for 15% of yearly emissions? These gases are mainly produced when chemical companies burn fossil fuels to produce synthetic fertilizers and when distribution companies fly food around the globe.
The agriculture of the future will have to be climate friendly if we want any hope of being able to feed the world's inhabitants. The future farmers will have to use organic, regenerative, local, and biodynamic techniques which don’t produce greenhouse gases at the rate they do now.
The futuristic techniques they intend to employ are advanced crop rotations, allowing fields to lay fallow, intercropping, soil amendments and animal grazing are simply the techniques employed by farmers of the past when we lived in much closer harmony with the land.
Healthier soils stand up to the variations of wet and dry weather better than the chemically-laden soils we have built and depend on today. This is one reason why farmers should get credits based on the measured amounts of carbon they manage to sequester in the soil. It will encourage farmers to work to increase soil carbon rather than be limited by a specific, restricting law.
Rewarding farmers for measured carbon sequestration will not only encourage them to use techniques that hold carbon in the soil; but, soil rich in carbon holds water better, resists erosion and builds increased resiliency for an uncertain climate. It is expected that organic farming could pull 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere -- each year.
Not surprisingly to me, healthy soils perform better and actually mean more food for a growing global population. Reducing or stopping climate change and increasing the world’s food supply works for me!