Livestock’s Role in a Changing Climate

Edward Bork’s research surrounding how livestock grazing affects soil carbon has made him a believer in the beneficial role cattle can potentially play in a changing climate.

“Because their grazing contributes to the concentration of carbon in the soil – a helpful process – livestock can be a tool to help reduce atmospheric carbon and thus mitigate climate change,” says Bork, director of the Rangeland Research Institute, University of Alberta.

Cattle critics say otherwise, calling for decreases in numbers or even elimination of ruminants as a means of reducing the greenhouse gases contributing to climate change. They point to the methane cattle emit as a key polluter of the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that ruminants put out as part of their digestive process.

Bork calls for a balanced view, one that weighs the drawbacks against the benefits.

“Pointing the finger at methane emissions of livestock is a convenient excuse people use,” he says. “It’s a red herring to claim that cattle are destroying the planet and ignores the fact that these grasslands evolved with grazing – and even depend on it to exist.


Net Zero Emissions Would Stabilize Climate Quickly Says UK Scientist

Rising seas, ocean acidification, melting ice caps, raging forest fires, melting tundra — everywhere you look, the news about climate change and the effects of a warming planet is bad. The world’s nations are continuing to spew billions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere despite all their happy talk about meeting the “spirit” of the accords they signed in Paris in 2015. Is there no respite from the dire news, no relief from the constant drumbeat of bad news and apocalyptic projections?

The conventional wisdom among climate scientists has long been that if we stopped all carbon emissions today, the climate would continue to warm for decades or even centuries. Think of climate change as a really big oil tanker. Even after the engines are shut down, its forward progress continues for miles and miles. That has led many people to throw up their hands in despair and choosing to continue doing what they have always done because if we are doomed, at least let’s have some fun while we still can. It’s like the band playing Nearer My God To Thee on the fantail of the Titanic as it slipped beneath the waves but if the message is that there is no hope, why not?


La biodiversidad de los suelos es fundamental para alimentar al planeta

Los suelos son una de las principales reservas mundiales de biodiversidad y albergan más del 25 % de la diversidad biológica del planeta. Estos microorganismos nos alimentan, nos protegen del cambio climático y hasta de las enfermedades.

En el marco del Día Mundial del Suelo, celebrado el pasado 5 de diciembre, la FAO pide una gestión sostenible de estos ecosistemas, así como su inclusión entre las prioridades de los países.

Los organismos del suelo desempeñan una función esencial para impulsar la producción de alimentos, mejorar las dietas nutritivas, preservar la salud humana, recuperar los lugares contaminados y combatir el cambio climático, pero su contribución permanece en su mayor parte subestimada, señala un nuevo informe publicado este sábado por la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura (FAO).

El estudio afirma que a pesar de que la pérdida de biodiversidad figura entre las principales preocupaciones mundiales, no se otorga a la biodiversidad subterránea la importancia que merece, y debe tenerse plenamente en cuenta al planificar las intervenciones para el desarrollo sostenible.


How To Fix A Food System That’s Not Designed To Feed People

Earlier this year, Americans learned what it looks like when a food system reliant on industrial agriculture, near monopolies and exploited laborers breaks down.

Just two months into the pandemic, the meat industry in the most powerful nation in the world was buckling.

In March and April, COVID-19 swept through meatpacking plants, infecting thousands of workers. In Colorado, an outbreak at a huge JBS beef processing facility killed six workers. In South Dakota, as cases surged in a Smithfield pork plant, officials offered bonuses to employees who kept coming to work (although the company said any worker missing work due to COVID-19 exposure or diagnosis would still get the money). By November, more than 11,000 Tyson Foods workers had been diagnosed with COVID-19 ― 9% of its total workforce.

“It was like drinking out of a fire hose,” said reporter Leah Douglas, who began tracking COVID-19 outbreaks across the food system in April. “The pace of the spread was so intense.”

Restoration of Degraded Grasslands Can Benefit Climate Change Mitigation and Key Ecosystem Services

New research has demonstrated how, in contrast to encroachment by the invasive alien tree species Prosopis julifora (known as Mathenge -in Kenya or Promi in Baringo), restoration of grasslands in tropical semi-arid regions can both mitigate the impacts of climate change and restore key benefits usually provided by healthy grasslands for pastoralists and agro-pastoralist communities.

A team of Kenyan and Swiss scientists, including lead author Ms.Purity Rima Mbaabu, affiliated to Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation of University of Nairobi and Chuka University and Dr. Urs Schaffner from CABI’s Swiss Centre in Delémont, assessed how invasion by P. julifora and the restoration of degraded grasslands affected soil organic carbon (SOC), biodiversity and fodder availability.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, revealed that degradation of grasslands in Baringo County, Kenya, has led to a loss of approximately 40% of SOC, the most important carbon pool in soils. These findings confirm that  degradation significantly contributes to the release of greenhouse gasses and thus to .


Want a More Sustainable Food System? Focus on Better Dirt

Four years ago, Cody Straza went “down the YouTube rabbit hole” of regenerative agriculture. “And I haven’t come up since,” he cracks.

For the past decade, Straza and his wife Allison Squires have been the owners of Upland Organics, a 2,000-acre farm near Wood Mountain, Sask. While their approach to farming was guided by organic principles from the start – Straza and Squires met at the University of Saskatchewan where he was studying agricultural and bioresource engineering and she was completing her PhD in toxicology – they transitioned to a regenerative agriculture farming model in 2016. (Squires went down the rabbit hole soon after her husband did.)

Regenerative agriculture is a system of principles designed to boost the farm ecosystem through the enhancement of soil health. This system is rooted in five pillars – better water management, low or no tillage (mechanical agitation of the soil), crop diversity, year-round cover crops and livestock integration.


Restaurar la naturaleza: el secreto contra el cambio climático

La restauración extensiva de los ecosistemas se considera cada vez más fundamental para conservar la biodiversidad y estabilizar el clima de la Tierra. Aunque se han establecido ambiciosos objetivos nacionales y mundiales, aún no se han identificado áreas de prioridad mundial que tengan en cuenta la variación espacial en los beneficios y costos, ¿por dónde empezar?

Un estudio de la Universidad Católica de Rio de Janiero (Brasil) y publicado en la revista Nature, identificó las áreas prioritarias para la restauración en todos los biomas terrestres y estima sus beneficios y costos.

De acuerdo con los investigadores, restaurar el 15% de las tierras convertidas en áreas prioritarias podría evitar el 60% de las extinciones que se esperan para 2050, y secuestrar 299 gigatoneladas de CO2, el 30% del aumento total de CO2 en la atmósfera desde la Revolución Industrial.

Como señala Nature, solo alrededor del 1% de la financiación dedicada a la crisis climática global se destina a la restauración de la naturaleza, pero el estudio encontró que tales “soluciones basadas en la naturaleza” se encontraban entre las formas más baratas de absorber y almacenar dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera, siendo los beneficios adicionales los protección de la vida silvestre.


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.


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.



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.