Saturday, October 10, 2009

Could Organic Farming Change Global Warming?


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!

Via TreeHugger

4 comments:

tony lovell said...

Please take a few minutes to look a little more into the massive and positive impact changed grazing management could have. Professor Tim Flannery has stated that sequestering carbon into the soils of our grazing lands is one of the best means we have available to us for dealing with climate change.

There is growing concern for significant action to avoid catastrophic climate change. Please take a few minutes and look through the presentation on Soil Carbon at http://www.soilcarbon.com.au

Not enough people are yet aware of Soil Carbon and the critical role it can play in helping to reverse the impacts of global warming.

Did you know that just a 1% change in soil organic matter across just one-quarter of the World’s land area could sequester 300 billion tonnes of physical CO2?

Recent Australian studies have shown that a 1% change can occur within a few years – and in fact up to 4% changes were measured in some areas. The management changes required to achieve these increases are very readily implemented. I hope you find the presentation of interest.

tony lovell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pippa said...

The second comment by Tony Lovell was deleted only because he must have accidently hit the "publish" button twice. The second comment was a copy of the first; but, I would like to thank Tony for his comments and the new sites for my readers to check out. It's an important subject; and, in my mind, one of the only natural solutions available to us.

Canada Guy said...

Organic farming methods offer several benefits for the environment and human health as a whole, but unfortunately, there are many misconceptions and falsehoods being spread regarding organic food and farming methods, both by proponents and detractors. Here are the facts about what organic methods can do for us and what they can't.

http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/11/organic-myths-and-realities.html