Posts

Blue Carbon: The Climate Change Solution You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

This is the eighth part of Carbon Cache, an ongoing series about nature-based climate solutions.

Gail Chmura, a professor at McGill University, had recently joined the school’s geography department in the late 1990s when some of her colleagues were trying to solve a mystery. They were looking at global carbon budgets, and the numbers weren’t adding up. There was a missing carbon sink, sequestering a whole lot of carbon, and nobody knew what it was. They wondered if Canada’s peatlands were part of the missing sink.

Meanwhile, Chmura was sampling salt marshes in the Bay of Fundy, which spans between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Few people had paid salt marshes any attention as carbon sinks because the data showed pretty low levels of carbon at a first glance. But Chmura had a lightbulb moment.

Researchers had been looking at the percentage of carbon in salt marshes by weight. In peatlands, this makes sense because they are almost entirely made of organic matter, which is where carbon is stored in soil.

KEEP READING ON THE NARWHAL

Cómo reforestar el planeta para mitigar la crisis climática

Una de las fórmulas más contundente de mitigación de la crisis climática a nivel global consiste en la creación de anillos, cinturones y murallas verdes. Ya se están desarrollando a gran escala en los distintos continentes.

La estrategia se basa en plantaciones de miles de millones de árboles, entendidos como infraestructuras verdes. Aportan beneficios relacionados con el secuestro de carbono y la conservación de la biodiversidad, entre otros factores.

Los primeros cinturones verdes

Suele considerarse que el primer cinturón verde fue diseñado por Moisés hace más de 3 000 años en los ejidos de los alrededores de las doce ciudades levitas. Fue la respuesta a una de las mayores crisis climáticas de la historia, probable causa real de las conocidas como 10 plagas de Egipto.

Puede también considerarse cinturón verde el diseñado por Mahoma en el siglo VII alrededor de la emblemática ciudad de Medina, mediante la prohibición de talar árboles en una franja de 20 km.

 

CONTINUE LEYENDO EN THE CONVERSATION

Letting Forests Regrow Naturally Is a Simple yet Effective Way to Fight Climate Change

  • The potential rates of carbon capture from natural forest regrowth are far higher than previously estimated.
  • Letting forests regrow naturally has the potential to absorb up to 8.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year through 2050.
  • This is the equivalent of 23% of global CO2 emissions and will be on top of the 30% currently absorbed by existing forests.

There’s increasing recognition of how nature can help tackle the climate crisis. From protecting standing forests to planting new trees, forests offer significant climate mitigation benefits. Now, new research shows that letting forests regrow on their own could be a secret weapon to fighting climate change.

Experts at WRI, The Nature Conservancy and other institutions mapped potential rates of carbon capture from “natural forest regrowth,” a restoration method distinct from active tree-planting, where trees are allowed to grow back on lands previously cleared for agriculture and other purposes.

KEEP READING ON WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

‘Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution’: New Paper Outlines Vision for Climate Action

A white paper out Friday declares that “there is hope right beneath our feet” to address the climate crisis as it touts regenerative agriculture as a “win-win-win” solution to tackling runaway carbon emissions.

“Humans broke the planet with grave agricultural malpractice,” Tom Newmark, chairman of The Carbon Underground and a contributor to the research, said in a statement. “With this white paper, Rodale Institute shows us how regenerative agriculture has the potential to repair that damage and actually reverse some of the threatening impacts of our climate crisis.”

“This is a compelling call to action!” he added.

Released by the Rodale Institute and entitled Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution (pdf), the white paper discusses how a transformation of current widespread agricultural practices—which now contribute indirectly and directly to the climate crisis—”can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization.”

The findings are based on Rodale’s own trials, research data, and interviews with experts, and build upon the institute’s 2014 paper Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming.

The claim made in the new paper is bold: “Data from farming and grazing studies show the power of exemplary regenerative systems that, if achieved globally, would drawdown more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions.”

Regenerative agriculture, as the researchers describe, represents “a system of farming principles that rehabilitates the entire ecosystem and enhances natural resources, rather than depleting them.”

In contrast to industrial practices dependent upon monocultures, extensive tillage, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers, a regenerative approach uses, at minimum, seven practices which aim to boost biodiversity both above and underground and make possible carbon sequestration in soil.

  • Diversifying crop rotations
  • Planting cover crops, green manures, and perennials
  • Retaining crop residues
  • Using natural sources of fertilizer, such as compost
  • Employing highly managed grazing and/or integrating crops and livestock
  • Reducing tillage frequency and depth
  • Eliminating synthetic chemicals

While passers-by may easily spot visual differences above ground between the divergent agricultural approaches, what’s happening below ground is also vital. From the paper:

Contrary to previous thought, it’s not the recalcitrant plant material that persists and creates long-term soil carbon stores, instead it’s the microbes who process this plant matter that are most responsible for soil carbon sequestration. Stable soil carbon is formed mostly by microbial necromass (dead biomass) bonded to minerals (silt and clay) in the soil. Long term carbon storage is dependent on the protection of the microbially-derived carbon from decomposition.

As for claims such as agricultural transformation wouldn’t be able to produce enough food, the paper counters: “Actual yields in well-designed regenerative organic systems, rather than agglomerated averages, have been shown to outcompete conventional yields for almost all food crops including corn, wheat, rice, soybean, and sunflower.”

But that is far from the only benefit. “When compared to conventional industrial agriculture,” the authors write, “regenerative systems improve”:

  • Biodiversity abundance and species richness
  • Soil health, including soil carbon
  • Pesticide impacts on food and ecosystems
  • Total farm outputs
  • Nutrient density of outputs
  • Resilience to climate shocks
  • Provision of ecosystem services
  • Resource use efficiency
  • Job creation and farmworker welfare
  • Farm profitability
  • Rural community revitalization

Rather than framing it as a “wake-up call,” the institute says the paper should be seen as an “invitation to journey in a new direction.”

“It is intended to be both a road map to change and a call to action to follow a new path,” the authors write. “One led by science and blazed by farmers and ranchers across the globe.”

“Together we both sound the alarm and proclaim the regenerative farming solution: It’s time to start our journey with a brighter future for our planet and ourselves as the destination,” the paper states.

Resources accompanying the white paper include a sample letter to members of Congress to urge support for the Agriculture Resilience Act (H.R. 5861), introduced in February by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and a “buyer’s guide to regenerative food” to help decipher food labels and questions to ask suppliers at farmers’ markets.

“A vast amount of data on the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural soils has been published, including from Rodale Institute, and recent findings are starting to reinforce the benefits of regenerative agricultural practices in the fight against the climate crisis,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, COO and chief scientist of Rodale Institute.

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams

Regenerative Ranching Could Solve Climate Change

A new study from Oregon State University shows regenerative ranching increases adaptability and socioeconomic status while helping to mitigate climate change.   

Climate Reality Project describes regenerative agriculture as a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of the farm by placing a heavy premium on soil health with attention also paid to water management, fertilizer use, and more.   

According to Regeneration International, this method can help to reverse climate change as it works to rebuild organic matter and restore biodiversity to the soil.   

Regenerative ranching refers to the practices familiar to most of us as organic farming. These changes are brought about by using a dynamic and holistic approach, including organic farming techniques such as cover cropscrop rotationsno till and compost. These practices encourage carbon sequestration, and can dramatically affect the climate in extremely positive ways.   

KEEP READING ON THE CORVALLIS ADVOCATE

Why Healthy Soil Means A Healthier Planet

Dirt, it turns out, has been underestimated. Healthy soil is perhaps the most essential part of a thriving ecosystem. In the face of climate change, farmers and scientists are working to better understand how soil supports a healthy planet. It turns out that without it, the rest of an ecosystem suffers.

Soil is composed of various materials, including sand, silt, stone and water. Depending on the geographic location, it can be sandy, dense, rocky or porous. Soil is a living thing and composed of millions of tiny organisms that help keep it healthy. Different types of insects, bacteria and fungi all work together to keep things in balance. Fungal networks, known as mycelium, play a vital role in helping dirt communicate with plant roots. In fact, the largest known organism in the world is a fungus that covers 4 square miles of forest in the Pacific Northwest.

Modern farming practices, land development and pollution are threatening the health of our planet.

KEEP READING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL MAGAZINE

David Montgomery: “Estamos cerca de una revolución basada en la salud del suelo”

En el marco del XXVIII Congreso de Aapresid, ‘siempre vivo, siempre verde’, el geólogo de la Universidad de Washington, David Montgomery, habló del rol de los suelos en la civilización y la importancia de su restauración en términos del futuro de la humanidad.

“Estamos cerca de una revolución basada en la salud del suelo; en un punto de cambio en la historia. Podemos convertir a la agricultura en actor de recuperación del suelo en lugar de degradador. La reconstrucción del suelo es una de las inversiones más grandes que puede hacer hoy la humanidad”, dijo.

“Se habla de la deforestación como causante principal de esta degradación, pero la realidad es que el arado contribuyó más que el hacha”, advirtió. A lo largo de la charla también explicó que la erosión y degradación del suelo jugó un rol critico en la caída de antiguas civilizaciones, desde la Europa neolítica hasta Roma.

CONTINUE LEYENDO EN LA NACION

Cattle Are Part of the Climate Solution

Rodale Institute’s updated climate change white paper, “Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution,” will be published September 25th. To learn more, visit RodaleInstitute.org/Climate2020.

We’re in the process of updating Rodale Institute’s Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution white paper and we wanted to talk to you about your influential work with cattle and rangeland soil carbon sequestration.

So to start, a question of semantics—there’s a lot of terms for management intensive grazing, you use adaptive multi-paddock or AMP, there’s mob grazing, high intensity rotational grazing, holistic grazing management, and now regenerative grazing. Are there practical differences between these systems?

There are small differences, but they’re all part of the same cadre in terms of a general way of doing things and the philosophy. Prior to starting our regenerative grazing studies in 1999, we worked with the NRCS who did all the soil mapping around the nation. We asked them to introduce us to farmers and ranchers who had the highest soil carbon levels. Without a single exception, they were all following Holistic Management, or a couple of variations around that. Our research has been following up on that ever since.

 

KEEP READING ON RODALE INSTITUTE

Fungi Have Unexpected Role to Play in Fight Against Climate Change

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Planting more trees seems like a logical way of counteracting climate change, as forests facilitate carbon sequestration, the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but as efforts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere intensify, organisms from another kingdom — fungi — are showing they have an indispensable role to play in this process.

“Almost all plant life coexists with fungi during a certain period, if not the entire life cycle of a plant, but the reasons for this coexistence and its effects have not yet been fully deciphered,” said Ko-Hsuan “Koko” Chen, an assistant research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center. Her lab studies plant-fungal symbiosis, especially between fungi and early photosynthetic organisms such as mosses.

Funguses are commonly used as ingredients in food and in medicines. However, their dynamic relationship with plants is not so well known and is significantly tied to the prosperity of plant species and element cycles, which are defined as the biogeochemical pathways in which elements are transformed by natural processes.

KEEP READING ON TAIWAN NEWS

Unlocking the Potential of Soil Can Help Farmers Beat Climate Change

Farmers are the stewards of our planet’s precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

The threat to food security

Farming is capital-intensive and farmers are at the mercy of volatile global commodity markets, trade disputes, regulatory changes, weather, pests, and disease. Factor in climate change and you can include droughts, floods and temperature shifts.

We need to change how we grow our food because:

  • climate change will increasingly impact farm yields
  • how we farm can help mitigate climate change
  • helping our farmers unlock the full potential of soil will help them meet growing food demands while remaining profitable
  • restoring the carbon-holding potential of our soil combats climate change.

Soil and climate change

The last few years have been among the hottest on record. As of May 2020, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2)​​​​​​​ in our atmosphere has been the highest it’s been in human history.