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Archuleta’s Message Inspires: Get the Ecology Right, the Money Will Follow

Author: Gillian Pomplun | Published: August 8, 2018

Nationally-known soil scientist Ray Archuleta presented a practical road map for restoration of farm profitability to about 200 farmers gathered at the Tainter Creek Watershed Council’s ‘Reducing Costs and Flood Impacts on the Farm’ events.

The program was held Wednesday, July 25 and Thursday, July 26 at Woodhill Farms in rural Vernon County. Tainter Creek Watershed Council members Brian and Laura McCulloh own Woodhill Farms, located in Franklin Township.

The retired 32-year career soil scientist with USDA-NRCS with an ag school background had a straightforward message for the assembled farmers.

“We got it all wrong,” Archuleta was quick to say.  “In our western scientific tradition, we utilize the principle of ‘reductionism,’ which is breaking things down into parts to study them.

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Restoring the Climate: War Is Not the Answer

Author: Judith Schwartz

Author and climate activist Bill McKibben has published a manifesto to “declare war” on climate change. While I agree about the urgency, I question the wisdom of invoking warfare. For one, how well have our battles against vast, multifaceted problems worked out? (Think: the war on drugs, the war on terrorism, the war on poverty.) Equally important, the language of combat is exactly wrong for addressing climate disruption. Rather, we need to wage peace with nature: to understand how natural systems regulate climate and to ally with the processes that maintain those functions.

But we’re running out of time.

“Increasingly, people are ready for a peace footing with nature.”

Shifting to renewable energy—the core of McKibben’s mobilization—is essential. But this alone won’t avert climate disaster. Even if we stopped fossil fuel emissions this minute, it would take centuries to bring CO2 down to appropriate levels. Plus, what remains unspoken: We could suck all the CO2 we want out of the atmosphere and still suffer the droughts, floods, heat waves and wildfires we now associate with climate change. We’re blind-sided by carbon, as if breaking our fossil fuel addiction were all that’s needed to restore climate dynamics. Climate is too complex to be reduced to a single variable.

Many ecological processes that influence climate reflect the movement and phase change of water. While carbon dioxide traps heat, water vapor acts as conveyer of heat, retaining and releasing heat as it circulates. Consider transpiration, the upward movement of water through plants. This is a cooling mechanism, transforming solar radiation to latent heat embodied in water vapor. According to Czech botanist Jan Pokorny, each liter of water transpired converts 0.7 kilowatt-hours of solar energy, an amount comparable to the capacity of, say, a large room air conditioner. A single tree can transpire upwards of 100 liters of water in a day. That’s a lot of cooling power—not to mention the shade, the drawdown of carbon, and everything else a tree does for us.

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Food forests manage themselves

Author: Andrea Darr

On a suburban Kansas lot at the corner of 55th and Mastin streets, an experiment is underway: A food forest is growing crops, creating economic value and, most notably, doing most of the work on its own.

The 10,000-square-foot garden is not tended to daily, at least not by human beings. Insects do the job of managing pests, some plants act as natural fertilizer, releasing nitrogen into the soil, and other plants form deep taproots that mine the soil for nutrients, bringing them up to the surface for the tree roots.

The area doesn’t have to be mowed, it doesn’t get sprayed and it doesn’t just survive — it thrives.

What is this system? The trendy term is permaculture, but it’s nothing new. It has been around for thousands of years.

“This is how nature manages itself,” says P.J. Quell, the property owner who has lent the site to Cultivate Kansas City to design, install, manage and harvest food grown from guilds of trees, shrubs and plants. Volunteers come annually to prune trees and spread wood chips. That’s about the extent of work involved.

Of course, it took much effort at the beginning of the project, designing for maximum sunlight, digging swales to capture and hold water, and planting. There are 39 varieties of fruit and nut trees and 12 varieties of shrubs, several with which people are familiar — pears and plums — but also many that are relative unknowns: pawpaws, jujubes, serviceberries and aronia.

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Transforming the Human Narrative: The Rise of Regenerative Development & Design

The novelist Terry Pratchett once wrote, “people think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” However it seems these types of dichotomies are often both/and more than they are either/or. It is true that we are shaped by the stories that we inherit, but we are also co-creating these stories through the actions that we consciously — or unconsciously — take. It might be closer to the truth to see as us and our stories as co-emerging and co-evolving.

All stories worth telling are essentially about the transformation of relationship. Whether it is the relationship between a person and themselves, between two people, between a people and a place, or all of the above. In a good story, characters grow and evolve in the context of events that help them to deepen their own understanding of their purpose within the systems in which they exist. These systems are stories in themselves — one level nested within another in either direction, to a degree that we don’t fully comprehend.

The story of Humanity is an incredibly fascinating one. In a sense it is so complex that it could never be fully told. Yet we can identify the general patterns of this story to better understand why things have turned out the way they have. How have our fundamental relationships — with ourselves, amongst ourselves, with the places we inhabit — evolved over the course of its unfolding?

We might see it all as an emergence of purpose, whereby we can ask ourselves: what is the rightful role of humanity on Earth? We have inherited a narrative in which humans are the owners and dominators of the planet, which evolved into the “responsible owner” of the well-intentioned sustainability movement. In this we cling to the idea that it is our destiny to gain complete control of our place — yet in the back of our minds we somehow know that we cannot, and our stories are tragedies ending in doom and death. As far as we are shaped by our stories we are spearheading the fulfillment of those grim destinies painted there.

On the other hand, many are waking up to the nature of the human storyteller: one that does more than imitate and repeat those inherited narratives but points them forward to help guide us in the shaping of our own future. We learn from them what does and does not work. For the human being, they are what drives adaptation; they are very much alive.

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Closing the Carbon Cycle

Fossil fuel companies and the beef industry have the potential to slow climate change – if they collaborate, and realize the waste of oil is the manna of soil, argues filmmaker Peter Byck during a talk in Phoenix at GreenBiz 16.

 

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