Posts

The Climate Emergency: Regenerate or Perish

May 2019 was a turning point for climate change. The world reached a record of 415.3 parts per million of carbon dioxide (ppm CO2 ) in the atmosphere—the most in over 3 million years. The UK Parliament declared an environmental and climate emergency on May 1. Pope Francis followed this by declaring a climate emergency on June 14.

A study published in May shows that if we don’t succeed in radically reducing emissions, civilization could collapse by 2050. The authors of the report showed that we are on track to “… a world of  ‘outright chaos’ on a path to the end of human civilization and modern society as we have known it…”

The good news is that we can turn this around by scaling up regenerative agriculture.

Why regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is based on a range of food and farming systems that use the photosynthesis of plants to capture CO2 and store it in the soil. The soil holds more than double the amount of carbon than the atmosphere and biomass (forests and plants) combined.

Why is it so important to dramatically reduce the current rate of CO2 emissions?

If emissions are not reduced soon, we will be going into catastrophic climate change, that we may not be able to reverse. This is because it will take centuries to get the heat out of our oceans. Ocean heat is a significant driver of our weather. The oceans and the atmosphere are already around 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the industrial revolution.

The energy needed to heat the atmosphere and the ocean by 1.8 degrees is equivalent to billions of atomic bombs. I am using this violent metaphor so that people can understand how much energy is being released into our atmosphere and oceans and why we will get more extreme weather events wreaking havoc on our communities and environment.

This extra energy is already violently fueling and disrupting our weather systems. It causing weather events to be far more intense. Winter storms are becoming colder and can be pushed further south and north than normal due to this energy, bringing damaging snowstorms and intense floods. Similarly, summer storms, especially hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical lows etc. are far more frequent and intense with deluging destructive rainfall and floods. Droughts and heat waves are more common and are resulting in more crop failures. They are also fueling damaging forest and grass fires that are burning out whole communities and changing regional ecologies due to not allowing time for recovery before the next fires.

The frequency and intensity of these types of events will only get exponentially worse when the world warms to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) which is the upper limit of the Paris climate agreement. And we are on track to shoot past this goal.

Managing climate change is a major issue that we have to deal with now

Atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing at 2 parts per million (ppm) per year. The level of CO2 reached a new record of 400 ppm in May 2016. However, despite all the commitments countries made in Paris in December 2015, the levels of CO2 increased by 3.3 ppm in 2016 creating a record. It increased by 3.3 ppm from 2018 to set a new record of 415.3 ppm in May 2019. This is a massive 60 percent increase in emissions per year since Paris and shows the reality is that most countries are not even close to meeting their Paris reduction commitments and many must be cheating on or ignoring their obligations.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, “Geological records show that the current levels of CO2 correspond to an ‘equilibrium’ climate last observed in the mid-Pliocene (3–5 million years ago), a climate that was 2–3 °C (3.6 – 5.4 F) warmer, where the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melted and even some of the East Antarctic ice was lost, leading to sea levels that were 10–20 m (30 to 60ft) higher than those today.”

Global sea levels rises will cause the atoll island countries, large parts of Bangladesh, Netherlands, coastal USA, New York, New Orleans, Miami, London, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, Shanghai, Singapore, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Dar es Salam and other low lying areas to go under water

Even if the world transitioned to 100 percent renewable energy tomorrow, this will not stop the temperature and sea level rises because it will take more than 100 years for the CO2 levels to drop. According to latest report, sea level rises, droughts and floods will cause a huge refugee crisis for over a billion people by 2050 and throw our civilization into chaos. The world cannot cope with 2 million refugees from Syria. How do we cope hundreds of millions of climate change refugees? There will be wars over food, water, land.

The fact is we have to speed up the transition to renewable energy and we have to make a great effort to drawdown CO2 in the atmosphere.

Reversing climate change

Four hundred and fifteen ppm is way past the Paris objective of limiting the temperature increase to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius).  The levels need to be well below 350 ppm. The excess CO2 must be drawn down from the atmosphere to stop damaging climate change.

In order to stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels, regenerative agricultural systems would have to drawdown the current emissions of 3.3 ppm of CO2 per year. Using the accepted formula that 1 ppm CO2 = 7.76 Gt CO2 means that 25.61 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 per year needs to be drawn down from the atmosphere.

Potential of best practice regenerative agriculture

BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management), developed by Dr. David Johnson of New Mexico State University, produces compost with a high diversity of soil microorganisms. Multiple crops grown with BEAM have achieved very high levels of sequestration. Peer-reviewed research published by Dr.  Johnson and colleagues show. “… a 4.5 year agricultural field study promoted annual average capture and storage of 10.27 metric tons soil C ha-1 year -1 while increasing soil macro-, meso- and micro-nutrient availability offering a robust, cost effective carbon sequestration mechanism within a more productive and long-term sustainable agriculture management approach.” These results have since been replicated in other trials.

These figures mean that BEAM can sequester 37,700 kilos of CO2 per hectare per year which is approximately 37,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

BEAM can be used in all soil based food production systems including annual crops, permanent crops and grazing systems. If BEAM was extrapolated globally across agricultural lands it would sequester 185 Gt of CO2 per year.

Potential of regenerative grazing

The Savory Institute and many others have been scaling up holistic managed grazing systems on every arable continent. There is now a considerable body of published science and evidence based practices showing that these systems regenerate degraded lands, improve productivity, water holding capacity and soil carbon levels.

Around 70 percent of the world’s agricultural lands are used for grazing. The published evidence shows that correctly managed pastures can build up soil carbon faster than many other agricultural systems and this is stored deeper in the soil.

Research by published Machmuller et al. 2015: “In a region of extensive soil degradation in the southeastern United States, we evaluated soil C accumulation for 3 years across a 7-year chronosequence of three farms converted to management-intensive grazing. Here we show that these farms accumulated C at 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1, increasing cation exchange and water holding capacity by 95% and 34%, respectively.”

The means that they have sequestered 29,360 kilos of CO2 per hectare per year. This is approximately 29,000 pounds of CO2 per acre. If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 98.6 Gt of CO2 per year.

Ending the climate emergency

Transitioning a small proportion of global agricultural production to these two peer-reviewed, evidence based, best practice, regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate.

Ten percent of agricultural lands under BEAM could sequester 18.5 Gt of CO2 per year.

And a further 10 percent of grasslands under regenerative grazing could sequester 10 Gt of CO2 per year.

This would result in 28.5 Gt of CO2 per year being sequestered into the soil which is more than the amount of sequestration needed to drawdown the 25.61 Gt of CO2 that is currently being emitted.

These back-of-the envelope calculations are designed to show the considerable potential of scaling up proven high-performing regenerative systems. The examples are “shovel ready” solutions as they are based on existing practices. There is no need to invest in expensive, potentially dangerous and unproven technologies such as carbon capture and storage or geo-engineering.

We are in a climate change emergency and we need every tool in the tool box to fix this problem. We don’t have the luxury of wasting precious time on intellectual arguments about whether this is possible or to convince skeptics and land managers unwilling to change.

It is time to get on with drawing down the excess CO2 by scaling up existing regenerative agriculture practices. This is very doable and achievable. It would require minimal financial costs to fund existing institutions, training organizations and relevant NGOs to run courses and workshops.

The widespread adoption of best practice regenerative agriculture systems should be the highest priority for farmers, ranchers, governments, international organizations, elected representatives, industry, training organizations, educational institutions and climate change organizations. We owe this to future generations and to all the rich biodiversity on our precious living planet.

References/sources:

Johnson D, Ellington J and Eaton W, (2015)  Development of soil microbial communities for promoting sustainability in agriculture and a global carbon fix, PeerJ PrePrints | http://dx.doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.789v1 | CC-BY 4.0 Open Access | rec: 13 Jan 2015, publ: 13 Jan 2015

Lal R (2008). Sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in global carbon pools. Energy and Environmental Science, 1: 86–100.

McCosker, T. 2000. “Cell Grazing – The First 10 Years in Australia,” Tropical Grasslands. 34:  207-218.

Machmuller MB, Kramer MG, Cyle TK, Hill N, Hancock D & Thompson A (2014). Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter, Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6995 doi:10.1038/ncomms7995, Received 21 June 2014 Accepted 20 March 2015 Published 30 April 2015

NOAS (2017). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US)

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/how-much-will-earth-warm-if-carbon-dioxide-doubles-pre-industrial-levels, Accessed Jan 30 2017

Spratt D and Dunlop I, 2019, Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach,  

Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration, Melbourne, Australia

www.breakthroughonline.org.au, May 2019 Updated 11 June 2019

https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/148cb0_90dc2a2637f348edae45943a88da04d4.pdf

Tong W, Teague W R, Park C S and Bevers S, 2015, GHG Mitigation Potential of Different Grazing Strategies in the United States Southern Great Plains, Sustainability 2015, 7, 13500-13521; doi:10.3390/su71013500, ISSN 2071-1050, www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability

United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  FAOSTAT data on land use, retrieved December 4, 2015

The total amount of land used to produce food is 4,911,622,700 Hectares (18,963,881 square miles).

This is divided into:

Arable/Crop land: 1,396,374,300 Hectares (5,391,431 square miles)

Permanent pastures: 3,358,567,600 Hectares (12,967,502 square miles)

Permanent crops: 153,733,800 square kilometers (593,570 square miles)

BEAM calculations

A basic calculation shows the potential of scaling up this simple technology across the global agricultural lands. Soil Organic Carbon x 3.67 = CO2 which means that 10.27 metric tons soil carbon = 37.7 metric tons of CO2 per hectare per year (t CO2/ha/yr). This means BEAM can sequester 37.7 tons of CO2 per hectare which is approximately 38,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

If BEAM was extrapolated globally across agricultural lands it would sequester 185 Gt of CO2/yr.

(37.7 t CO2/ha/yr X 4,911,622,700 ha = 185,168,175,790t CO2/ha/yr)

Regenerative grazing calculations

To explain the significance of Machmuller’s figures: 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1 = 8,000 kgs of carbon being stored in the soil per hectare per year. Soil Organic Carbon x 3.67 = CO2, which means that these grazing systems have sequestered 29,360 kgs (29.36 metric tons) of CO2/ha/yr. This is approximately 30,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 98.6 Gt CO2/yr.

(29.36t CO2/ha/yr X 3,358,567,600 ha = 98,607,544,736t CO2/ha/yr)

Andre Leu is international director of Regeneration International. To keep up with RI’s news and alerts, sign up here.

Regeneración 2019: Estado del Movimiento

Regenerado: formado o creado de nuevo; renacido o convertido espiritualmente; restaurado a un estado mejor, más alto, o más digno. – Webster

“La agricultura regenerativa ofrece respuestas a la crisis del suelo, la crisis alimentaria, la crisis climática y la crisis de la democracia.” – Vandana Shiva, Co-fundadora de Regeneration International.

Hace cinco años, en la multitudinaria marcha climática de los pueblos en la ciudad de Nueva York, un grupo pequeño pero determinado de activistas del sector alimentario, agrícola, de salud natural y climático organizamos una conferencia de prensa en el Rodale Institute en Manhattan, donde anunciamos la formación de una nueva red global: Regeneration International (RI).

Vandana Shiva, Andre Leu, Richard Teague, Ryan Zinn, Kris Nichols y quien escribe , entre otros, presentamos la osada y en ese entonces poco conocida propuesta de que las prácticas alimenticias, agrícolas y de uso de suelo regenerativas, escaladas a nivel internacional, y en conjunto con una transición global a la energía renovable, podrían no sólo reducir sustancialmente las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero y disminuir el calentamiento global, sino que podrían reabsorber suficiente dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera para revertir el cambio climático.

Señalamos que una revolución regenerativa también podría mejorar drástticamente al ambiente, la fertilidad del suelo, la calidad de los alimentos, la salud pública, la biodiversidad y las economías rurales.

Desafortunadamente, no logramos que muchos medios asisitieran a la primera conferencia de prensa de RI, pero 400,000 personas marchando en las calles de Nueva York si generaron una cobertura masiva de medios a nivel mundial sobre la inminente emergencia climática.

Cinco años después…

Cinco años después, nuestro creciente movimiento de Regeneración ha avanzado mucho. La Agricultura Regenerativa está convirtiéndose rápidamente en el nuevo concepto del que más se habla en los círculos alimenticios, agrícolas y climáticos. La cobertura de medios, tanto dominantes como alternativos, ha aumentado exponencialmente.

Líderes políticos en los Estados Unidos, incluyendo a Bernie Sanders y a Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, están hablando sobre cómo la combinación de agricultura regenerativa, la reabsorción natural de carbono en los suelos, bosques y humedales, y la reducción masiva de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero de la agricultura y las granjas industriales nos puede ayudar a alcanzar emisiones “netas cero” para el 2030.

El concepto de alimentos y agricultura regenerativa fue presentado en la Resolución del Nuevo Acuerdo Verde (GND, por sus siglas en inglés) presentado en la Cámara de Representantes y en el Senado de los Estados Unidos el 7 de febrero. El GND ha sido respaldado ahora por más de 100 miembros del Congreso, líderes contendientes del Partido Democráta y, de acuerdo a varias encuestas, la mayoría del estamento político de los Estados Unidos.

El GND exige reformas económicas contundentes (empleo para todos, educación pública gratuita, salarios más altos, sistema de salud universal) así como una transformación de nuestros sistemas de energía, infraestructura y agrícolas, incluyendo:

…trabajar colaborativamente con agricultores y ganaderos en los Estados Unidos para eliminar la contaminación y emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero del sector agrícola lo más posible mientras sea tecnológicamente factible, incluyendo – apoyar la agricultura familiar… invertir en prácticas agrícolas y de uso de suelo que aumenten la salud del suelo … y construir un sistema alimenticio más sustentable que asegure el acceso universal a alimentos sanos… retirar gases de efecto invernadero de la atmósfera y reducir la contaminación, restaurando ecosistemas naturales a través de soluciones probadas de baja tecnología que aumentan el almacenamiento de carbono en el suelo, como la preservación y reforestación… restaurando y protegiendo ecosistemas amenazados y frágiles a través de proyectos localmente apropiados y basados en la ciencia que mejoran la biodiversidad y apoyan la resiliencia climática… de manera que todas las personas de los Estados Unidos tengan asegurado el acceso al agua limpia, aire limpio, alimentos sanos y que puedan pagar y naturaleza.

Como Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declaró recientemente en una publiación de medios sociales (7 de abril, 2019):

Debido al Nuevo Acuerdo Verde, ya no están sentados a la mesa de negociaciones de políticas públicas sólo la industria agrícola y Monsanto. Ahora hay también expertos en agricultura regenerativa y agricultores familiares, a líderes indígenas con conocimiento intergeneracional.

Los medios despertando ante soluciones que cambian las reglas del juego

En los frentes científicos y de educación pública, una oleada de artículos, videos y libros están destacando el hecho de que prácticas agrícolas regenerativas y de restauración de ecosistemas aumentan la fertilidad del suelo y la reabsorción de carbono de manera dramática.

Un reciente artículo en Scientific American, presenta el trabajo del miembro de RI, el Dr. David Johnson. El laboratorio e investigación de campo de Johnson sobre la composta regenerativa muestra que la composta alta en hongos, rica biológicamente, semi-anaeróbica y sus extractos de composta producen rindes de cosecha inusualmente altos, junto con una reabsorción masiva de carbono de más de cuatro toneladas de carbono (15 toneladas de CO2) por acre por año.

El artículo de Scientific American señala las implicaciones transformadoras de las prácticas de composta de Johnson, si son escaladas en los cuatro mil millones de acres de tierras de cultivos:

Johnson afirma que si su enfoque fuera usado en la agricultura internacionalmente, la producción de carbono desde el 2016 podría ser almacenada en sólo el 22 por ciento de la tierra arable del planeta.

La composta del “bio-reactor” de Johnson también elimina la necesidad de fertilizantes sintéticos – suelos inoculados enriquecidos con cultivos de cobertura acumulan naturalmente suficiente nitrógeno para el crecimiento masivo de plantas. Las prácticas BEAM (Manejo Agrícola Biológicamente Mejorado, por sus siglas en inglés) del Dr. Johnson son un reflejo de prácticas de composta y técnicas agroecológicas tradicionales e indígenas usadas en la India y otras regiones.

El potencial del pastoreo regenerativo está ganando atención

El Instituto Savory, Will Harris (co-presidente de Agricultores y Ganaderos Estadounidenses por una coalición del Nuevo Acuerdo Verde), Gabe Brown, la Asociación Estadounidense de Ganado Alimentado con Pasto, y muchos otros han estado demostrando la eficacia de las prácticas de manejo holístico de ganado en cada continente.

Como escribe el director Internacional de RI, Andre Leu:

Existen publicaciones científicas y prácticas basadas en la evidencia que muestran que estos sistemas (de ganadería) regeneran tierras degradadas, y mejoran la productividad, la capacidad de almacenar agua y niveles de carbono en el suelo. Casi un 70 por ciento de las tierras agrícolas del mundo (ocho mil millones de acres) son usadas para el pastoreo. La evidencia publicada está mostrando que los pastizales manejados de manera correcta pueden acumular materia orgánica en el suelo mucho más rápido que otros sistemas agrícolas y que el carbono es almacenado a mayor profundidad.

Leu cita un estudio del 2015 realizado en una región con un suelo y pastizales altamente degradados en el sureste de los Estados Unidos que muestra que el manejo holístico y regenerativo del pastoreo, fue capaz de reabsorber 3.24 toneladas de carbono por acre al año (29.36 toneladas métricas de CO2e/hectárea/año).

Si estas prácticas regenerativas de pastoreo fueran implementadas en todas las tierras de pastoreo del mundo reabsorberían 26 mil millones de carbono al año – esa son dos veces y media más de carbono del que está siendo actualmente emitido por todas las actividades humanas. Aún si  solo 10 por ciento de los agricultores y ganaderos del mundo adoptaran prácticas regenerativas podríamos reabsorber más de un cuarto de todas las emisiones actuales.

Nuevos incentivos para la reforestación y restauración de ecosistemas

Allá lejos y hace tiempo, los bosques contaban con un estimado de seis billones de árboles creciendo, almacenando agua debajo del suelo, manteniendo un sistema sano y predecible de lluvias y un balance hidrológico, reabsorbiendo vastas cantidades de carbono atmosférico en los troncos de árboles, ramas, raíces y suelo.

Además de estos servicios ecosistémicos esenciales, los bosques también proveen alimentos y hábitat para la mayoría de la población mundial, especialmente en el sur global.

Después de varios siglos de deforestación, hemos perdido la mitad de nuestros árboles y cubierta del bosque. Muchos de nuestros bosques están debilitados y son susceptibles a incendios forestales yeinfestaciones de plagas. Existe un estimado de población de árboles de 3 billones de árboles en 10 mil millones de acres.

Pero de acuerdo a un nuevo Programa Ambiental de las Naciones Unidas (UNEP, por sus siglas en inglés), “La Campaña de Tres Billones de Árboles,” la reforestación global podría capturar un 25 por ciento de las emisiones anuales de carbono del mundo y crear riqueza en el sur global.

La Campaña de Tres Billones de Árboles de las Naciones Unidas está inspirada en parte por un estudio reciente liderado por el Dr. Thomas Crowther. Crowther y sus compañeros investigadores, usando información integrada de encuestas de suelo y satélites, descubrieron que replantar los bosques del mundo (1.2 billones de árboles adicionales) en una escala masiva en los espacios vacíos en los parques, bosques, ciudades y tierra degradada y abandonada en el planeta reabsorbería 100 mil millones de toneladas de exceso de carbono de la atmósfera.

Crowther le dijo a The Independent:

“Hay 400 gigatoneladas ahora, en los tres billones de árboles, y si sumáramos otro billón de árboles eso representaría cientos de gigatoneladas capturadas de la atmósfera – por lo menos 10 años de emisiones antropogénicas completamente eliminadas… (los árboles son) nuestra arma más poderosa en la lucha contra el cambio cllimático.”

Los números de Crowther ni siquiera incluyen la masiva cantidad de reducción y reabsorción de carbono que podemos conseguir a través de las prácticas de agroforestería y silvopastoreo plantar árboles en las tierras de cultivo, pastizales y tierras de pastoreo del mundo a menudo deforestadas.

Más de 13.6 mil millones de árboles ya han sido plantados como parte de la Campaña de Billones de Árboles, la cual analiza y proyecta no sólo donde los árboles han sido plantados, sino también las vastas áreas donde los bosques podrían ser restaurados. UNEP también destaca que hay “170 mil millones de árboles en riesgo inminente de destrucción” que deben ser protegidos para el almacenamiento de carbono crucial y la protección de la biodiversidad.

‘Cuatro por 1000’ la iniciativa de política global ganando tracción

En la próxima Cumbre Mundial del Clima en Santiago, Chile, del 2 al 13 de diciembre, prácticas regenerativas, que capturan carbono, agrícolas y de uso de suelo serán resaltadas por primera vez a nivel internacional.

Aquellos países que están teniendo dificultades para cumplir con los acuerdos del 2015 en París para reducir sus emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero a niveles específicos (la mayoría) ahora podrán incluir la captura de carbono del suelo (junto con la reforestación y restauración del paisaje) como parte de sus Contribuciones Nacionalmente Determinadas.

Desde la Cumbre Climática de París del 2015, tres docenas de naciones y cientos de municipalidades, regiones y organizaciones no gubernamentales han firmado el “4 por 1000: Suelos para la Seguridad Alimentaria e Iniciativa Climática.

Los gobiernos que han firmado la iniciativa están de acuerdo en aumentar sus reducciones de emisiones con un compromiso de incrementar la captura de carbono en el suelo por 4/1000% cada año para alcanzar cero emisiones netas (reduciendo los gases de efecto invernadero que están emitiendo) lo más pronto que se pueda. Regeneration International es un socio activo que junto con el gobierno francés y otros busca impulsar a naciones, regiones, gobiernos municipales y organizaciones para firmar la Iniciativa 4 por 1000.

¿Y a partir de aquí, a dónde vamos?

Además de intensificar nuestras actividades locales e individuales de educación y agricultura regenerativa, ha llegado el momento para que los regeneradores del mundo se centren en la organización de base, construcción de coalición y acción política contundente.

La urgente y acelerada emergencia climática y los actuales niveles atmosféricos de CO2 elevándose a 415 ppm, hacen que ya no tengamos tiempo de escalar la energía renovable y prácticas agrícolas, ganaderas y de uso de suelo regenerativas lentamente. La inclusión de la agricultura y la ganadería regenerativa en los Estados Unidos como parte del Nuevo Acuerdo Verde, amplificada en el campo político por varios candidatos importantes para la Presidencia en el 2020, incluyendo a Bernie Sanders y Elizabeth Warren, ha abierto una oportunidad sin precedentes para avanzar y ganar apoyo de base masivo. Activistas en el Reino Unido ahora están exigiendo al Partido Laborista que cree un contundente Nuevo Acuerdo Verde en el Reino Unido, así como el Movimiento Sunrise, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez y Bernie Sanders lo están haciendo en los Estados Unidos.

Los meses finales de 2018 probablemente serán recordados como el momento decisivo en el que los movimientos de base del mundo finalmente despertaron ante la amenaza de vida o muerte representada por el calentamiento global. Con un clima violento y desastres climáticos cada vez más recurrentes, la humanidad parece haber despertado.

Las personas están preocupadas, alarmadas y listas para escuchar nuestro mensaje. Ahora es el momento para que el Movimiento Regenerativo de un paso adelante y ayude a movilizar a nuestros millones de aliados y futuros aliados. Sabemos qué hacer. Las mejores prácticas y profesionales en energía alternativa, construcción de infraestructura y agricultura y ganadería regenerativas han ganado visibilidad en nuestras comunidades locales. Nuestro imperativo moral y existencial es movilizar políticamente e incrementar estas prácticas, elevando el estandarte de un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde Regenerativo en cada comunidad, región y nación.

Se nos ha hecho tarde. Pero aún hay tiempo de cambiar las cosas. Si no lo has hecho, por favor firma la petición de Organic Consumers Association y Regeneration International por un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde. Si eres un agricultor o ganadero, firma aquí. Si eres un activista o consumidor verde firma aquí.

Ronnie Cummins es el director internacional de Organic Consumers Association (OCA) y miembro de la junta directiva de Regeneration International (RI). Para mantenerte informado de las noticias y alertas de RI, firma aquí.  

Cambio climático: el mapa que muestra las ocultas conexiones subterráneas de los árboles (y qué dice de la alerta que enfrenta el planeta)

“Un bosque es mucho más que los árboles. Hay todo un mundo bajo nuestros pies, un mundo oculto que no vemos pero cuya importancia es capital para la salud de los bosques y su supervivencia”.

El científico español Sergio de Miguel, profesor de la Universidad de Lleida, estudia las complejas relaciones entre las raíces de los árboles y vastas redes de microorganismos con las que viven en simbiosis.

“Es como una relación de amistad en la que uno aporta algo y el otro aporta algo en beneficio de los dos”, le dice a BBC Mundo el coautor de un estudio pionero sobre el tema publicado en la revista Nature.

El estudio presenta “el primer mapa a escala global de la distribución de los diferentes tipos de simbiosis que existen en los bosques del mundo”.

SIGUE LEYENDO EN BBC NEWS MUNDO

One Solution to Climate Change No One Is Talking About

It was a nightmarish Iowa blizzard in 1998 that made Seth Watkins rethink the way he farmed.

Before then, he’d operated his family business—he raises livestock alongside hay and corn crops for feed—pretty much as his parents had, utilizing practices like monocropping and unseasonal calving cycles, methods designed to cheat nature. The blizzard, which imperiled the lives of many newly born calves that year, made him realize there must be a better way to steward the land and the animals on it — methods more attuned to the natural scheme of things.

Photo credit: Pexels

In the 20 years since, Watkins has shepherded in a number of major changes—such as prairie strips, cover crops and rotational grazing—that prevent soil erosion, curb toxic nitrate and phosphorus runoff into nearby waterways, stimulate the biodiversity of the local ecosystems, and improve soil moisture and nutrient content, all the while increasing profits, he said.

KEEP READING ON NATION OF CHANGE

Regeneration 2019: State of the Movement

Regenerate: Formed or created again; spiritually reborn or converted; restored to a better, higher, or more worthy state. –Webster

“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.” – Vandana Shiva, Regeneration International Co-Founder

Five years ago, at the massive People’s Climate March in New York City, a small but determined band of food, farm, natural health and climate activists held a press conference at the Rodale Institute in Manhattan, where we announced the formation of a new global network: Regeneration International (RI).

Vandana Shiva, Andre Leu, Richard Teague, Ryan Zinn, Kris Nichols and myself, among others, put forth the bold, but then little-known proposition that regenerative food, farming and land-use practices, scaled up internationally, and in conjunction with a global transition to renewable energy, could not only substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow down global warming, but could actually draw down enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reverse climate change.

We pointed out that a Regeneration Revolution could also dramatically improve the environment, soil fertility, food quality, public health, biodiversity and rural economies, while revitalizing the body politic.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a lot of media to attend our first RI press conference. But 400,000 people marching in the streets of New York did generate massive world media coverage of the impending Climate Emergency.

Five years later . . .

Five years later, our growing Regeneration Movement has come a long way. Regenerative Agriculture is rapidly becoming the most talked about new concept in food, farming and climate circles. Media coverage, both mainstream and alternative, has increased exponentially.

Leading politicians in the U.S., including Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are now talking about how the combination of regenerative agriculture, natural carbon sequestration in soils, forests, and wetlands, and reducing the massive greenhouse gas emissions of industrial agriculture and factory farms can help us reach “net-zero” emissions by 2030.

The concept of regenerative food and farming was featured in the Green New Deal (GND) Resolution introduced in the U.S. House and Senate February 7. The GND has now been endorsed by more than 100 members of Congress, leading Democratic Party contenders and, according to several polls, the majority of the U.S. body politic.

The GND calls for sweeping economic reforms (jobs for all, free public education, higher wages, universal health care) as well as a transformation of our energy, infrastructure and agricultural systems, including:

. . . working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible, including—by supporting family farming… investing in sustainable farming and land use practices that increase soil health… and by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food… removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and reducing pollution, including by restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions that increase soil carbon storage, such as preservation and afforestation… restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems through locally appropriate and science-based projects that enhance biodiversity and support climate resiliency… providing all people of the United States with access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.

As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently stated in a social media post (April 7, 2019):

Because of the Green New Deal, entirely new thinkers are now at the policy table instead of just Big Ag and Monsanto writing our public policy for us—from regenerative agriculture experts and family farmers, to indigenous leaders with intergenerational knowledge.

Media waking up to game-changing solutions

On the scientific and public education fronts, a flood of articles, videos and books are highlighting the fact that regenerative farming and ecosystem restoration practices dramatically increase soil fertility and carbon sequestration.

A recent article in Scientific American, features the work of RI member Dr. David Johnson. Johnson’s lab and field research on regenerative compost shows that high-fungal, biologically rich, semi-anaerobic compost and compost extracts produce unusually high crop yields, along with massive carbon sequestration of over four tons of carbon (15 tons of CO2e) per acre per year.

The Scientific American article points out the game-changing implications of Johnson’s compost practices, if scaled-up on the world’s four billion acres of croplands:

Johnson asserts that if his approach were used across agriculture internationally, the entire world’s carbon output from 2016 could be stored on just 22 percent of the globe’s arable land.

Johnson’s “bio-reactor” compost also eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers—inoculated soils enriched with cover crops naturally accumulate enough nitrogen for massive plant growth. Dr. Johnson’s BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management) practices mirror traditional and indigenous compost and agroecological farming practices used in India and other regions.

Potential of regenerative grazing gaining notice
 

The Savory InstituteWill Harris (co-chair of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers for a Green New Deal coalition), Gabe Brown, the American Grassfed Association, and many others have been demonstrating the efficacy of holistic livestock management practices on every continent.

As RI International Director Andre Leu writes:

There is now a considerable body of published science and evidence-based practices showing that these (livestock) systems regenerate degraded lands, and improve productivity, water holding capacity and soil carbon levels. Nearly 70 percent of the world’s agricultural lands (eight billion acres) are used for grazing. The published evidence is showing that correctly managed pastures can build up SOC (Soil Organic Carbon) faster than many other agricultural systems and that the carbon is stored deeper in the soil.

Leu cites a 2015 study conducted in a region with highly degraded soil and pastures in the southeastern U.S. showing that regenerative, holistically managed grazing was able to sequester 3.24 tons of carbon per acre per year (29.36 metric tons of CO2e/hectare/year).

If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on all of the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 26 billion tons of carbon per year—that’s two-and-a-half times as much carbon as is currently being emitted by all human activities.  Even if only 10 percent of the world’s ranchers and farmers adopted regenerative practices, we could sequester more than a quarter of all current emissions.

New incentives for reforestation and ecosystem restoration

The Earth’s forests once flourished with an estimated six trillion trees growing, storing water below ground, anchoring top soil, maintaining a healthy, predictable system of rainfall and hydrological balance, sequestering vast amounts of atmospheric carbon in tree trunks, limbs, roots, and soil.

Besides these essential ecosystem services, forests also provided food and habitat for much of the world’s population, especially in the global south.

Now, after several centuries of deforestation, we’ve lost half of our trees and forest cover. And many of our remaining forests are weakened and susceptible to forest fires and pest infestations. We’re now down to an estimated total tree population of three trillion trees on 10 billion acres.

But according to a new United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), “The Trillion Tree Campaign,” global reforestation could capture 25 percent of global annual carbon emissions and create wealth in the global south.

The UN’s Trillion Tree Campaign is inspired in part by a recent study led by Dr. Thomas Crowther, Crowther and his fellow researchers, using integrated data from ground-based surveys and satellites, found that replanting the world’s forests (an additional 1.2 trillion trees) on a massive scale in the empty spaces in parks, woods, cities and degraded and abandoned land across the planet would drawdown 100 billion tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere.

Crowther told the Independent:

“There’s 400 gigatons now, in the three trillion trees, and if you were to scale that up by another trillion trees that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere – at least 10 years of anthropogenic emissions completely wiped out… [trees are] our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change.”

Crowther’s figures don’t even include the massive amount of carbon drawdown and sequestration we can achieve through agroforestry and silvopasture practices, planting trees on the world’s often deforested croplands, pasturelands and rangelands.

More than 13.6 billion trees have already been planted as part of the Trillion Tree Campaign, which analyzes and projects not only where trees have been planted, but also the vast areas where forests could be restored. UNEP also emphasizes that there are “170 billion trees in imminent risk of destruction” that must be protected for crucial carbon storage and biodiversity protection. 

‘Four for 1000’ global policy initiative gaining traction

At the upcoming Global Climate Summit in Santiago, Chile, December 2-13, regenerative, carbon-sequestering, agricultural and land-use practices will be highlighted for the first time at the international level.

Countries that are having difficulties meeting their 2015 pledges in Paris to reduce their country’s greenhouse gas emissions to specific levels (most nations are) will now be able to include soil carbon sequestration (along with reforestation and landscape restoration) as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Since the 2015 Paris Climate Summit, three dozen nations and hundreds of municipalities, regions and non-governmental organizations have signed on the “4 for 1000: Soils for  Food Security and Climate Initiative.”

Governments that sign the initiative agree to augment their emissions reductions with a commitment to increase soil carbon sequestration by 4/1000% every year so as to achieve net-zero emissions (drawing down as much GHG as they are emitting) as soon as possible. Regeneration International is an active partner with the French government and others in encouraging nations, regions, municipal governments and organizations to sign-on to the 4 for 1000 Initiative.

What do we go from here?

Besides stepping up our local and individual regenerative education and farming activities, the time has come for regenerators worldwide to focus on grassroots organizing, coalition building and bold political action.

With our Climate Emergency accelerating, and current atmospheric CO2 levels soaring to 415 ppm, we no longer have time to slowly scale up renewable energy and regenerative food, farming and land-use practices at our current pace. The inclusion of regenerative food and farming in the U.S. as part of the Green New Deal, amplified in the political arena by several major candidates for President in 2020, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, has opened up an unprecedented opportunity to move forward and gain mass grassroots support. Activists in the UK are now calling for the Labour Party to put forth a bold UK Green New Deal, much as the Sunrise Movement, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie Sanders are doing in the U.S.

The final months of 2018 will likely be remembered as the decisive moment when the global grassroots finally awakened to the life-or-death threat posed by global warming. With violent weather and climate disasters becoming the norm, and international scientists finally shedding their customary caution to report that we must drastically slash (by at least 45 percent) global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, hundreds of millions of ordinary people across the world seemed to simultaneously wake up.

People are concerned, alarmed and ready to listen to our message. Now is the time for the Regeneration Movement to step forward and help mobilize our millions of allies and would-be allies. We know what to do. The best practices and practitioners in alternative energy, infrastructure rebuilding and regenerative food and farming are already visible in our local communities. Our moral and existential imperative is to mobilize politically and scale up these practices, raising the banner of a Regenerative Green New Deal in every community, region and nation.

The hour is late. But there’s still time to turn things around. If you haven’t already, please sign the Organic Consumers Association and Regeneration International’s petition for a Green New Deal. If you’re a farmer or rancher, sign here If you’re an activist or a green consumer sign here.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of theRegeneration International steering committee. To keep up with RI’s news and alerts, sign up here.

Big Food Turning to Regenerative Agriculture to Meet Sustainability Goals

Food manufacturers take commodities harvested on millions of acres around the world and put them into the products they sell. Now, a growing number of companies are looking to give back to the land through regenerative agriculture in an effort to meet consumer demand for more environmentally friendly practices. 

General Mills recently partnered with farmers and suppliers to implement these sustainable practices on 1 million acres of soil for oats, wheat, corn, dairy feed and sugar beets by 2030. 

The announcement comes as shoppers care about sustainability now more than ever, according to a survey from Nielsen. Nearly half of U.S. consumers are likely to change what they buy depending on the level of the brand’s commitment to the environment. The growth is unlikely to abate anytime soon, with the data analytics firm predicting people will spend up to $150 billion on sustainable products by 2021.

“It’s a big deal for food companies because we make food that relies on agriculture. 

KEEP READING ON FOOD DIVE

Letter from U.S. Farmers & Ranchers to Congress: We Need a Green New Deal

Are you a farmer or rancher? Or a farmer- or rancher-member organization?

Would you like to see Congress pass better food and farming legislation? Legislation that supports you in your efforts to manage your land using practices that improve soil health, contribute to clean water, and produce healthy food?

Do you want agricultural policies that will help you compete in the marketplace, by ensuring fair prices for your products and a level playing field in the marketplace?

Please sign this letter to Congress.

From Despair to Repair

I belong to an online climate discussion group that today asked three questions: what is the state of the movement, do we need climate change or system change, and do we need a meta-movement? Keying off the insights from the Earth Repair Conference, I wrote the following – and have added a post-script to include a week of research on the state of the movement for Earth Repair:

CLIMATE MOVEMENT: STATE OF PLAY

Last weekend I attended the Global Earth Repair conference and this workshop (long) where a new context clicked for me, though I’ve had all the pieces collected over all these years of low to the ground innovations.

The cumulative impact of the event revealed this: the Climate Movement is missing a crucial, essential element. It offers resistance but not repair. It is clear about the against, but largely mum on an equal scale restoration project. The anti-war movement allied with the Peace Movement had moral and spiritual power.

KEEP READING ON RESILIENCE

A Green New Deal Must Prioritize Regenerative Agriculture

We are at a radically new stage in our fight for the planet. The Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youth-led Sunrise Movement, and hundreds of other climate justice leaders and organizations has given us a new holistic framework for tackling both the climate crisis and structural inequality.

This bold vision for the future has, in a matter of months, radically expanded what is politically possible and clarified what is morally required of us as a society. Just a year ago, the progressive movement was struggling to articulate climate solutions that were capable of meeting the severity and scale of the problem, relying instead on piecemeal reforms.

With any luck, those days are decisively behind us. The goal is no longer to slow the bleeding; it’s to heal the wound.

KEEP READING ON TRUTHOUT

The Fate of Planet Earth Lies in the Hands of Just Two Generations, Warns Climate Columnist David Wallace-Wells

The global impacts of global pollution are so terrifyingly vast and all-encompassing that fully comprehending the potential consequences can prove difficult for the human mind. 

If it continues unchecked, scientists warn1 of an increase in extreme weather including rising sea levels, intensified and more frequent wildfires, devastating flooding, stronger hurricanes and prolonged droughts — all of which are projected to have colossal and costly impacts on public health, agriculture, politics, economic growth and human migration. 

But there’s good news: Humans have the power to stop, and potentially reverse pollution, but only if appropriate action is taken immediately, and on a global scale. 

While most people think of the burning of fossil fuels as the primary driver of pollution, data point to industrial agriculture as the greatest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. An estimated 44% to 57% of all greenhouse gases come from the global food system. This includes deforestation, agriculture, food waste and food processing, packaging, refrigeration and transportation.2

So, while some argue that, in addition to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to 100% renewable energy, implementing new and costly carbon-capturing technology3 is the solution, mounting evidence points to a less costly and more natural solution: Harnessing the power of Mother Nature. 

This includes organic regenerative agriculture,4 which promotes soil health, biodiversity, soil carbon sequestration and large-scale ecosystem restoration such as reforestation and the restoration of peatlands, mangroves, salt marshes and other important ecosystem habitats capable of drawing down and storing excess atmospheric carbon.5

Climate Columnist: ‘The Main Driver of Future Warming Is What We Do Now’

What happens on Earth within the next century in regard to climate change depends on the action humans do or don’t take, said David Wallace-Wells, deputy editor and climate columnist for New York magazine, in a recent interview on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. 

Wallace-Wells, who wrote “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,”6 says we tend to think about climate change as something that began centuries ago during the Industrial Revolution, but the truth is that in the history of mankind, 50% of all the carbon we’ve released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels has occurred within the last 30 years.7

That means the fate of the entire planet may lie in the hands of just two generations, because what happens in the next 50 to 100 years from now will depend on how humans address climate change today, Wallace-Wells says.

Deadlier Wildfires in California

In the featured video, Rogan and Wallace-Wells discuss how climate change is worsening wildfires in California, causing the fires to burn hotter and more frequently. Science shows California wildfires could get up to 60 times worse as climate change intensifies, says Wallace-Wells. 

That’s an alarming prediction considering California, in the past two years, had some of the most destructive fires on record. In fact, the Mendocino wildfire in July 2018 was the state’s largest ever, causing 60% more damage than any fire before it.8

There are a number of ways in which climate change may be intensifying California wildfires. For starters, hotter temperatures can create a drying effect, turning once-green vegetation into flammable wildfire fuel. Secondly, scientists say climate change is shortening California’s rainy reason, and shifting the Santa Ana winds in a way that fan deadly wildfires in Southern California. 

In the podcast, Rogan says a firefighter once told him that with the right wind, it’s only a matter of time before a fire hits the top of Los Angeles, California, and burns all the way to the ocean, and there will be nothing anyone can do to stop it.

Development and urban sprawl are another reason wildfires could get a lot worse in California. When Native Americans stewarded the land, they often performed controlled burns to prevent the buildup of timber, but because some of America’s wealthiest elite insist on living in the California hills, controlled burns are out of the question, says Wallace-Wells. 

His observation leads to an interesting statement about how the situation in California is unique in that climate change tends to impact the world’s poorest first. But in places like Bel-Air, a ritzy upper-class neighborhood in Los Angeles, the effects of climate change are working in reverse as it has largely been the ultrarich who are most affected by wildfires. 

The damage has been both destructive and costly. Just three California wildfires, the Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire and the Hill Fire, are estimated to have killed 88 people, damaged or destroyed close to 20,000 structures and caused more than $9 billion in damage.9 Those costs may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Reposted with permission from Mercola