T.Goreau: Extended Abstract in Press UN FAO Global Conference on Soil Organic Carbon

Author: Thomas J. Goreau | Published on: May 3, 2017

Today’s CO2 atmosphere concentrations will lead to devastating increases in global temperatures and sea level over the thousands of years that cold deep ocean waters warm up, even if no more fossil fuel CO2 is added. Long-term impacts shown by climate records are much greater than IPCC projections, which are politically mandated to only include short-term initial responses. They ignore 90% or more of the long-term climate impacts that will affect future generations for millions of years unless CO2 is rapidly reduced to pre-industrial levels, giving policy makers a false sense of security. Even complete emissions reductions cannot remove the existing CO2 excess already in the atmosphere, only increased carbon sinks can do so, and only soil has the capacity to store it in time to avert runaway climate change. CO2 can be reduced to safe levels in decades if 1) current carbon farming sequestration practices are applied on a large scale, 2) lifetime of soil carbon storage is increased with biochar, and 3) with large scale restoration of coastal marine wetland peat soils, especially using new electrical stimulation methods. Regenerative Development strategies to reverse climate change by increasing soil and biomass carbon need to be implemented by UNFCCC.

Climate change strategies claiming that 2 degrees C warming or 350 ppm are “acceptable” sentence coral reefs and low lying countries to death. Corals are already at their upper temperature limit (Goreau & Hayes, 1994). The last time global temperatures were 1-2 C warmer than today, sea levels were 6-8 meters higher, equatorial coral reefs died from heat, crocodiles and hippotamuses lived in London, England, yet CO2 was only 270 ppm (Goreau, 1990; Koenigswald, 2006, 2011).

CO2 in the atmosphere (>400ppm) is already way above the pre-industrial (270ppm) levels consistent with modern global temperature and sea level, and millions of years of ice core and deep sea climate records show that current atmospheric CO2 levels will lead, over thousands of years, to steady state global temperatures and sea levels around 17 degrees Celsius and 23 meters higher than modern levels (Goreau 1990, 2014; Rohling et al., 2009).