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Restoring Soils Could Remove up to ‘5.5bn Tonnes’ of Greenhouse Gases Every Year

Replenishing and protecting the world’s soil carbon stores could help to offset up to 5.5bn tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, a study finds.

This is just under the current annual emissions of the US, the world’s second largest polluter after China.

Around 40 per cent of this carbon offsetting potential would come from protecting existing soil carbon stores in the world’s existing forests, peatlands and wetlands, the authors say.

In many parts of the world, such soil-based “natural climate solutions” could come with co-benefits for wildlife, food production and water retention, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

Ground up

The top metre of the world’s soils contains three times as much carbon as the entire atmosphere, making it a major carbon sink alongside forests and oceans.

Soils play a key role in the carbon cycle by soaking up carbon from dead plant matter. Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and this is passed to the ground when dead roots and leaves decompose.

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Natural Solutions to the Climate Crisis? One-quarter Is All down to Earth

Joint research conducted by the Nature Conservancy and the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, calculated the carbon-storing power of global soils and showcased approaches like agroforestry designed to capitalise on untapped potential.

A critical, nature-based approach to mitigating  has been right at our feet all along, according to a new study reporting that soil represents up 25% of the total global potential for  (NCS) – approaches that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it into landscapes, including forests, croplands and peatlands.

Representing the first time soil’s total global potential for carbon-mitigation across forests, wetlands, agriculture and grasslands together has been cataloged, the study provides a timely reminder not to neglect the power of soils and the many benefits these ecosystems can deliver for climate, wildlife and agriculture.

Published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the study is titled “The role of soil carbon in natural climate solutions.” The research also argues that a lack of clarity to date regarding the full scale of this opportunity and how to best capitalize on it has restricted investment.

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Activists Share Powerful Stories at Bangkok Climate Meeting

BANGKOK, Thailand – Days before the United Nations COP25 Climate Summit, Regeneration International took part in “The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change,” held at the UN building in Bangkok.

The event, organized by the Global Peace Initiative of Women and the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association, gathered young environmental activists from five continents. The activists came together with one common message: “If we want to reverse the current climate catastrophe, we must reconnect with nature.”

“The Inner Dimensions of Climate Change” kicked off without the usual science and policy experts who typically dominate the conversation at climate change conferences. Instead, it ceded the floor to youth activists working on a range of issues, including biodiversity, indigenous rights, gender equality, regenerative agriculture and deep ecology.

“Many of these activists often work alone and we think it’s important to bring these young people together to build a global trustworthy community where they can build on each and others’ knowledge and inspiration,” said Marianne Marstrand of the Global Peace Initiative of Women.

I attended the conference with my partner, Hsu Zin Maung, to share Regeneration International’s work around developing agricultural projects in Myanmar, and around promoting regenerative organic development worldwide.

We met with people of different faiths, cultures and realities—activists who are working in areas of the world where ideologies on environment and social justice are often new, and sometimes misunderstood, concepts.

All of these individuals shared powerful stories about what brought them to the role they embrace today. Here are just a few of the youth activists who inspired us that day:

Riddhi Shah (India)

Shah is 28 years old. She works in rural areas of southern India plagued with severe water scarcity. She launched a program across an entire region to build swales and channels to increase ground water seepage. After four years, her work lead to the replenishment of a dry lake that is now supporting a local community all year round.

Riddhi Shah, Activist Education in India

“To address the climate crisis, we just need to see how beautifully nature is being a facilitator and fall into its process,” Shah said.

But Shah doesn’t stop at land. Her passion for education and for linking social and environmental justice has led her to become one of India’s top philanthropical consultants. She has become an empowerment catalyst for regenerative projects all over India.

Ramphai Noikaew (Thailand)

Noikaew lives in a community at her Pun Pun Organic Farm located in Northern Thailand where she enjoys sharing her knowledge on seed saving and indigenous herbal medicines from the Mekong region.

She and her husband volunteer their time to educate people about organic farming, deep ecology, place-based living and community development. She recently launched an organic farmers market in Bangkok, where the Pun Pun farm community is expanding its knowledge.

“Climate change is happening and we have to change with it, so we grow diversity to ensure that whatever the climate ,we have something to fall back on when one crop fails,” Noikaew said. “And we teach people seed saving so that they know to use the seeds, and how to grow and share them.”

Ying Liang (China)

Ying Lian runs the Schumi Learning Garden (SLG) and Organic Farm, in Zhongshan, a traditional village at the foot of Wugui Mountain, in southern China. SLG is a transformative learning center for adults based on three pillars of education: Community living, Connection with self, others and nature, and Right Livelihood.

The center also serves as an incubator for community livelihood projects, such as a Weekend Farmers’ Market to revitalize the local economy.

“I am most inspired by forest eco-systems, where life flourishes and all elements nourish each other, where life and death are circular processes,” Liang said. “I am working to re-create this kind of system and to manifest it in human society to help enhance socio-ecological resilience.”

Gao Heran (China)

Heran is the founder of Citan Village Nature School in Hainan Province, China. This initiative, is designed to teach environmental and nature education programs and games to village children and urban families mainly coming from Beijing.

The focus of the curriculum is environmental stewardship, local biodiversity, nature conservation, permaculture practice in the field and village team building.

The school also organizes weekend village trips for city-based families to encourage rural-urban environmental educational exchanges and partnerships.

“We are nature but being in the city we often live like caged animals,” Heran said. “My work is to get city families out into the countryside, especially the younger generations.”

Crystal Foreman (USA)

Foreman is a certified permaculture designer and certified Baltimore City Gardener. She works to improve food justice, food sovereignty and organic food access.

Crystal Foreman, a certified permaculture designer and certified Baltimore City Gardener

Foreman teaches people how to cook healthy meals and how to use food they might not be familiar with, while working hand-in-hand with local organic growers and teaching people how to forage in both urban and rural areas.

Foreman recognizes we have the power to make environmental and societal changes by carefully choosing what we put on our plate.

“Food inequity, poor food quality and inhumane labor can be traced to conventional farming that causes extreme environmental harm,” Foreman said. “I want to teach people how to be self-sufficient with food choices. Teaching people how to live with the land and how the land can nurture us is very important to my mission.”

Inner Dimensions of Climate Change

Regeneration International took part in the Inner Dimensions of Climate Change, a global gathering of young climate leaders at the United Nations in Bangkok. Their message? If we want to avoid climate catastrophe, we must reconnect with nature.Video via Oliver Gardiner

Posted by Regeneration International on Friday, 10 January 2020

Oliver Gardiner is Regeneration International’s media producer and coordinator for Asia and Europe. (With thanks to the Global Peace Initiative of Women). To keep up with Regeneration International news, sign up for our newsletter.

 

You Don’t Have to Go Plant-based to Save the World

There has been a lot of buzz recently about switching to a meatless or fully plant-based diet, not only for sustainability reasons but also for health benefits. Livestock production encompasses 14.5% of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions, with cattle making up for well over half of those emissions. Thus, eliminating the consumption of meat, or red meat specifically, to be more sustainable has been an easy push for climate change advocates. Additionally, a 2012 study revealed that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of certain chronic diseases, driving the movement against meat consumption.

However, the urge to completely eliminate meat from our diets is both quixotic and unwarranted. For anyone who enjoys eating meat and is considering eradicating it from their diet for health and or climate change reasons, you may be happy to hear that might not be the best solution.

Instead of forcing people to radically change their consumption habits, I argue that we should focus on sourcing meat sustainably and finding creative ways to reduce, but not eliminate, mass meat consumption through institutional food providers.

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Seis reglas para organizar una revolución de regeneración de los movimientos de base

Durante las últimas cinco décadas he tenido la oportunidad de viajar y trabajar por gran parte del mundo. Lo he hecho a través de trabajos y actividades como activista por la alimentación, la salud natural y el medio ambiente, los derechos humanos, como organizador del movimiento contra la guerra, y periodista. Estos viajes han sido inspiradores y desafiantes.

Quizás la lección más importante que he aprendido a través de mi trabajo es que las personas responden mejor a un mensaje positivo y que se enfoca en las soluciones. Los mensajes negativos y pesimistas, los que no ofrecen una solución plausible, generalmente no inspiran a las personas a involucrarse o a tomar medidas.

Eso no significa que debamos subestimar la gravedad de nuestra situación actual. Nos enfrentamos a amenazas de vida o muerte sin precedentes. Nos enfrentamos a grandes obstáculos políticos, económicos y culturales. Debemos continuar destacando y criticando, con pasión, hechos y ejemplos concretos, las personas que han actuado mal, las prácticas y políticas que nos han llevado al borde de una crisis global.

Dicho esto, creo que el principal obstáculo que debemos superar, en los EE. UU. y en todo el mundo, es que la gran mayoría de las personas están atrapadas en situaciones desalentadoras que les causan un sentimiento generalizado de desesperanza. No es que no quieran cambiar. Pero desafortunadamente, la mayoría de las personas realmente no creen que las cosas puedan cambiar.

No es mi caso. Creo que podemos cambiar la conversación global sobre alimentos, agricultura, política, salud y clima, que hasta ahora se ha basado en la desesperanza, y convertirla en un mensaje esperanzador. Creo que podemos empoderar a los movimientos de base para que se alcen y actúen, tanto individual como colectivamente.

En mi último libro, “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal”, describo lo que llamo “reglas para regeneradores”, una hoja de ruta para alcanzar un cambio positivo. En mi libro, analizo cada regla en profundidad, pero estas son las 6 reglas a grandes rasgos.

Regla 1: buscar y enfatizar lo positivo

Ante el colapso del ecosistema global y la corrupción corporativa y política generalizada, debemos pensar en estos términos: la hora de mayor oscuridad del día se da justo antes del amanecer. Eso significa que no debemos perder de vista el hecho que se acerca el amanecer, por lo que debemos centrarnos y prepararnos para ello.

En lugar de pensar en lo negativo, debemos buscar, resaltar y promover tendencias y prácticas positivas. En la escena contemporánea, hay muchos signos de cambio y poderosas tendencias opuestas al status quo degenerativo, no solo en los EE. UU., sino en todo el mundo.

Tenemos que centrarnos en estas tendencias que cambian el mundo, en vez de quedarnos atorados en la tristeza y la fatalidad.

Regla 2: conectar con las preocupaciones principales de las personas primero y luego enlazarlo con otras cuestiones

El mundo está lleno de personas diferentes, que viven en diferentes situaciones, con distintas perspectivas, pasiones y prioridades. Eso significa que no podemos aplicar una solución única para resolver todos los problemas.

En cambio, debemos integrar nuestros mensajes de justicia verde y regeneración con los problemas y preocupaciones específicos más importantes para los movimientos de base. Luego, diseñar una estrategia, usando un lenguaje cotidiano, que ayude a las personas a comprender que sí podemos resolver los problemas que más les preocupan, al mismo tiempo que solucionamos otros problemas urgentes.

Solo si empezamos en el punto donde se encuentran las personas y luego lo conectamos con otras cuestiones, podemos captar la atención y la imaginación de una masa crítica de movimientos de base mundiales y hacer que comiencen a pensar en cómo pueden participar en nuestro nuevo movimiento y nueva economía.

Regla 3: dejar de organizarse en torno a problemas únicos aislados

Las campañas globales y el activismo tienen tendencia a centrarse en problemas aislados y esto ocasiona movimientos divididos y grupos de electores fracturados.

Para lograr una verdadera regeneración, o incluso para aprobar una nueva legislación general regenerativa como el Nuevo Acuerdo Verde, no debemos dividirnos ni fracturarnos, sino unirnos, ser inclusivos y tener un enfoque y comprensión holísticos de la crisis global que enfrentamos y del camino hacia la resolución de problemas

Con demasiada frecuencia escuchamos que “mi problema es más importante que tu problema”, “mi distrito electoral o comunidad está más oprimida que la tuya” o “mi solución es la única solución”.

Ese tipo de pensamiento no nos llevará a ninguna parte. Nuestro movimiento de regeneración global debe basarse en el principio de que todas los problemas de los movimientos de base y todo el electorado son importantes. Tenemos que ayudarnos mutuamente a reconocer que los temas candentes que afectan a la política a nivel global: cambio climático, pobreza, desempleo, deterioro de la salud, corrupción política, control corporativo, guerra y otros, son síntomas interrelacionados de nuestro sistema degenerativo enfermo.

Regla 4: dejar de pretender que las soluciones o reformas parciales provocarán cambios en el sistema

Los activistas a menudo caen en la trampa de la mala praxis cuando consideran soluciones o tácticas parciales como soluciones sistémicas. Uno de los ejemplos más alarmantes de esto es la noción de que alcanzar el 100% de energía renovable resolverá la crisis climática.

Esta teoría es engañosamente esperanzadora y peligrosamente errónea. La energía renovable no nos llevará a emisiones netas cero para 2030 o incluso 2050, a menos que esté acompañada por una reducción masiva (de más de 250 mil millones de toneladas) de carbono en exceso de la atmósfera a través de alimentos, agricultura, uso de la tierra y comercio regenerativos.

Ambas cosas, la energía renovable y la reducción del carbono, deben llevarse a cabo simultáneamente durante los próximos 20 años.

De manera similar, la ingenuidad y la estrechez de miras podría llevarnos a creer que la reforma financiera propuesta en una campaña, o la elección de este o aquel candidato, resolverá la crisis nacional e internacional caracterizada por la dominación de la élite y la corrupción política, o que, en general, el cambio en una comunidad o país puede resolver lo que esencialmente son problemas nacionales y globales.

A menos que podamos levantar la cabeza, conectar los puntos y luchar por unificar los cambios sistémicos, cualquier cambio que hagamos no será lo suficientemente efectivo.

Regla 5: actuar y organizarse localmente, pero cultivar una visión global y solidaria

Para que la civilización sobreviva, necesitamos reconstruir sistemas de alimentos y agricultura saludables, orgánicos y relocalizados, y reparar y restaurar nuestros entornos locales.

Hacer esto requerirá que los regeneradores den prioridad a la educación, acción y movilización local y regional, en nuestras vidas personales y hogares, así como en el mercado y el terreno político.

Al mismo tiempo, tenemos que aplicar o integrar una perspectiva nacional y global en nuestro trabajo de movimientos de base local y construcción de comunidad. La batalla contra el cambio climático severo, la destrucción del medio ambiente, el deterioro de la salud pública, la pobreza, la corrupción política y la alienación social se librará y ganará en función de lo que miles de millones de nosotros, consumidores, agricultores, administradores de paisajes, funcionarios públicos, propietarios de empresas, estudiantes y otros, hagan (o no hagan) en nuestras millones de comunidades locales como parte de un despertar global y un cambio de paradigma.

Debemos pensar, actuar y organizarnos localmente, al mismo tiempo que cultivamos una visión y una solidaridad globales.

Regla 6: convertirse en un ejemplo positivo de regeneración

Lo personal es político. Las personas escuchan no solo el mensaje manifiesto de lo que decimos o escribimos, sino también nuestro mensaje subliminal, es decir, nuestra presencia, comportamiento y actitud.

Solo esforzándonos por encarnar los principios de regeneración (esperanza, solidaridad, creatividad, trabajo duro, alegría y optimismo) en nuestras vidas y prácticas cotidianas (es decir, nuestro trabajo, comida, ropa, estilo de vida y cómo tratamos a los demás y al medio ambiente, qué votamos, cómo gastamos nuestro dinero, invertimos nuestros ahorros y usamos nuestro tiempo) podremos inspirar a quienes nos rodean.

En la década de los 60 teníamos un dicho: “solo hay una razón para convertirse en un revolucionario: porque es la mejor manera de vivir”. Creo que este eslogan es tan relevante ahora como lo era entonces.

Una de las cosas maravillosas de la regeneración es que no solo es nuestro deber y nuestra posible salvación, sino que también puede convertirse en nuestro placer. Como dijo una vez el granjero-poeta Wendell Berry:

“El cuidado de la tierra es nuestra responsabilidad más antigua y digna y, después de todo, nuestra responsabilidad más placentera. Apreciar lo que queda de ella y fomentar su renovación, es nuestra única esperanza legítima”.

 

Ronnie Cummins es el director internacional de Organic Consumers Association (OCA) y miembro de la junta directiva de Regeneration International (RI). Su Nuevo libro“Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal” salió a la venta en febrero de 2020. Para mantenerse informado de las noticias y alertas de RI, regístrese aquí.

 

 

Grassroots Rising — A Call to Change the World

In this interview, Ronnie Cummins, founder of the Organic Consumers Association, discusses his new book “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal.”

“Much of the book talks about how we need to transform our food and farming system, not only in the United States but worldwide, if we’re going to solve a lot of these problems that we’re seeing — environmental pollution, health problems, the climate crisis and the fact that we have so much poverty in rural areas …” Cummins says.

Regenerative Organic Farming Is the Answer to Many Problems

The transformation Cummins calls for is a transition to regenerative organic farming, which has the ability to solve many if not most of these problems simultaneously.

For example, one of the primary arguments for genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods was that it was going to solve world hunger. Reality, however, has demonstrated the massive flaws in this argument.

GE agriculture actually does the complete opposite, by destroying our soils and making food more toxic and less nutritious. Regenerative farming, on the other hand, has demonstrated its superiority with regard to yield and nutrition, all without the use of toxic chemicals. As noted by Cummins:

“The way we have traditionally grown food for the last 10,000 years and the way we’ve raised animals the last 20,000 or 30,000 years is really organic and pasture-based.

This wild experiment that industry unleashed on us since the second world war, using toxic chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, genetically engineered seeds and animal factory farms has proven to be a disaster, not just for the farmers, the animals and the land, but our public health has also suffered considerably.

Part of our long-term call to take charge of your health, take charge of your diet [is to] take charge of our environment and really our whole economic system [and] transform this degenerative food, farming and land use system into one that is organic and regenerative.”

Four Drivers of Change

In his book, Cummins details four major drivers of any given system, be it, as in this case, the degenerative system we currently have, or the regenerative system we would like to have:

  1. Education and awareness raising — This also includes putting the information into practice, meaning, every time you pull out your wallet, you’re considering whether your money is going to support a degenerative or regenerative system. True change comes when people act out their beliefs in the marketplace
  2. Innovation — This includes innovation of farmers, ranchers, people who take care of our forests and wetlands and people who are innovative in terms of educating the public
  3. Policy changes — This includes policy changes all the way from local school boards and park districts to the White House. At present, our policies favor corporate special interests like Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Big Pharma and Wall Street. Once we get policies that support organics, regenerative agriculture and natural health, scaling these areas up will be much easier and faster
  4. Funding and investment — This includes both private investors and public monies

As noted by Cummins, “Education, innovation, policy [changes] and investment are the four things that drive this change of paradigm.” Change, however, is often slow, and one of the reasons Cummins wrote “Grassroots Rising” was to inspire optimism and hope.

“Obviously, we are still in a degenerative phase, but we can move out of this,” he says. “I think this year, 2020, is going to be the beginning of a pretty enormous global awakening.”

Scaling Best Practices 

Cummins is co-director of an organic research farm and conference center outside of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he coordinates a regenerative agricultural system that integrates organic vegetable, seed and forage production with regenerative holistic management of poultry, sheep, goats and pigs. He and others are constantly on the lookout for best practices that can be successfully scaled up and implemented on millions of farms. Cummins explains:

“We have been, for 10 years, running a research and teaching farm [Via Organica] outside of San Miguel de Allende, right smack in the middle of Mexico. It’s the high desert area …

If you look at the statistics, 40% of the world’s surface is characterized as semi-arid or arid, and that’s the type of area we’re in here, so it’s not unusual for the global landscape …

What’s difficult as a farmer or rancher, if you live in the semi-arid or arid parts of the world, is that not only is rainfall seasonal and you don’t get a whole lot of it, but that it is almost impossible to raise crops on a lot of this terrain.

What people have done for hundreds of years is graze livestock on these degraded semi-arid, arid lands. The problem is that they have overgrazed much of this 40% of the world’s surface.”

Simple Innovations Can Solve Serious Problems

During one of Cummins’ workshops on organic compost, two local farmers approached him saying they’d developed a remarkably simple technique using the agave plant and mesquite trees to produce incredibly inexpensive yet nutritious animal fodder.

These two plants, which are naturally found clustered together in arid and semi-arid areas, do not require any irrigation, and the photosynthesis of the agave is among the highest in the entire world. It grows rapidly, producing massive amounts of biomass, and sequesters and stores enormous amounts of carbon, both above ground and below ground, while producing inexpensive, nutritious animal feed or forage and restoring the earth.

As noted by Cummins, the fact that agave plants and mesquite (or other nitrogen-fixing trees) grow together naturally is nature’s way to repair eroded landscapes. The roots of the mesquite tree can reach down to 125 feet, fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, and absorbing minerals from deep in the ground.

Agave, meanwhile, adds huge amounts of biomass to the land every year, drawing down excess CO2 from the atmosphere. It pulls nitrogen and other minerals from the ground in order to support its rapid growth, but when grown next to a nitrogen-fixing tree, you’ve got a biodiverse system that will continue to grow and thrive on a continuous basis..

Fermented Agave Is an Inexpensive Animal Feed

The fermented agave animal feed produced in this system costs only 5 cents per kilo (2.2 pounds) to make. The key is fermentation. Raw agave leaves are unpalatable and hard to digest for animals because of their levels of saponins and lectins, but once fermented, they become digestible and attractive to the animals.

The fermentation also boosts the nutrition. I was so impressed with Cummins’ story that I harvested about 10 gallons of aloe plants and applied the process to see if it will convert to great food for my six chickens. A summary of the process is as follows:

  • Cut some of the lower agave leaves off the tree and crudely chop them up with a machete. One of the farmers, Juan Frias, invented a simple machine that grinds the leaf into what looks like coleslaw.
  • Place the cut-up agave leaf into a large bucket, tamping it down once filled half-way to remove oxygen. Continue filling the bucket to the top. Tamp down again and put a lid on it. (As explained further below, adding mesquite pods at an optimum rate of 20% will approximately double the protein content of the final product.)
  • Let it set for 30 days. The fermentation process turns the saponins and lectins into natural sugars and carbs. The final mash will stay fresh for up to two years.

Cummins and other Mexican organic farmers have tested the agave forgage on a variety of animals, including sheep, goats, chickens and pigs, all of which love it.

“The importance of this is, first of all, if you’re a small farmer, you can’t afford alfalfa, and you can’t afford hay during the dry season. It’s too expensive … It makes eggs and meat too expensive in the marketplace for people to buy.

When you start looking at … reducing feed costs by 50%, or even three quarters with this stuff that costs a nickel or a dime, then I don’t need to overgraze my animals. They’d still graze because it’s good for them … but you wouldn’t have to have them outdoors every day, overgrazing on pastures that are not in good shape.

This is pretty amazing stuff … Lab analysis of just the fermented agave [shows] it’s about 5% to 9% protein, which is pretty good. Alfalfa is more like 16% to 18%.

What these farmers, who are also retired scientists, figured out is if you put 20% mesquite in your fermentation, the pods of the mesquite trees, it’ll shoot the protein level up to about 18% — about the same as alfalfa.

There’s a lot of other things too that make it better than alfalfa. One of the things about alfalfa is it takes a lot of water … The agave plant uses one-twenty-sixth the amount of water to produce a gram of biomass as alfalfa.

These desert plants have evolved over millions of years to utilize water and moisture in a really efficient way … The opening in the leaves, called the stomata … only opens at night, after sunset.

These plants literally suck the moisture out of the air all night long, and then when daybreak comes, the stomata closes up … They can go years with no rain, and they can survive pretty harsh temperatures … [and] there’s not one chemical required in this whole process. This whole process is inherently organic.”

Added Benefits

An organic certifier is now evaluating one of the operations using this agave feed process, which may go a long way toward creating less expensive organics. For example, rather than spending 45 cents per kilo for organic chicken feed, chicken farmers can cut that down to between 5 and 10 cents per kilo.

In the end, that will make organic free-range chicken and eggs far more affordable for the average consumer. Ditto for pork, sheep and goat products.

Additional benefits include improved immune function in the animals — similar to that seen in humans eating a lot of fermented foods. What’s more, about 50% of the fermented agave feed is water, which means the animals don’t need to be watered as much.

Cummins and other organic farm advocates are now trying to convince the Mexican reforestation program to get involved as well. This would solve several problems. First, it’s difficult to reforest in arid climates, which includes 60% of Mexico, as even mesquite trees need water in their first stage of development until they’re established. Growing agave in locations in areas that already have mesquite or other nitrogen-fixing trees would speed the process and lower the water demands.

Secondly, growing agave and mesquite together for reforestation purposes, while incorporating facilities to create fermented agave feed for sale, farmers who aren’t willing to grow their own can still benefit from this inexpensive feed alternative. Thirdly, such a project would also help reduce rural poverty, which is what’s driving immigration into the U.S.

“If people weren’t so darn poor, which leads back to if they didn’t live in such dry, degraded landscapes, they wouldn’t be seeking to come to the U.S. except for a visit,” Cummins says.

“We can solve this immigration problem. We can solve this problem of rural poverty. Many of these small farmers, they can’t even afford to eat their own animal, like the lamb, on a regular basis.

They have it for celebrations, but they should be able to eat lamb burgers on a regular basis in the rural countryside. Now, they will be able to. In the long run, if we restore the landscape, things like corn, beans and squash will grow again …”

Yet another little cottage industry is also starting to grow around agave. Its fibers are very strong, so people are now starting to make lightweight construction blocks or bricks from it.

Lastly, Cummins estimates that with 2.5 million agave plants planted on 30,000 acres over the next decade, they’ll be able to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions created by San Miguel county right now.

More Information

To learn more about how regenerative agriculture can help solve many of the problems facing the world right now, be sure to pick up a copy of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and a Green New Deal.”

“This regenerative practice in dry lands is a game changer,” Cummins says. “There are practices in wetlands and in the global North, [where] we’re already seeing things like a holistic management of livestock and biointensive organic practices.

It’s all these practices together — the best practices from the different parts of the world, different ecosystems — that are going to make a difference.

It’s you the consumer, it’s you the reader, that needs to spread these good news messages, and I hope you’ll consider buying a copy of my new book, ‘Grassroots Rising,’ where I try to paint a roadmap of how we can regenerate the world’s landscapes as quickly as possible so that we can get back to enjoying life.”

Reposted with permission from Mercola.com

Natural Climate Solutions: How 4 Global Companies Leverage Nature to Tackle the Climate Crisis

It’s 2020. We’ve officially entered the defining decade to tackle the climate crisis. As businesses ramp up climate action commitments through science-based targets and net-zero or carbon neutral goals, they are realizing there are untapped opportunities to work with nature instead of against it. Nature-based climate solutions will provide the lever of change to make faster progress toward those goals, and it just might help them go above and beyond.

For companies in land-based industries, natural climate solutions — conservation, restoration and regenerative land management activities that draw carbon out of the atmosphere — are the most relevant and the most untapped reduction opportunities for corporate carbon strategies. I’ve picked four stories from Danone, General Mills, Barry Callebaut and Braskem to share concrete examples of how global companies are harnessing the power of forests, soils and farm lands to accelerate their climate action.

Before we set off, here’s a little backstory. The knowledge that there are benefits from natural climate solutions is not new, yet businesses were struggling to quantify them. We know that you need to measure if you want to manage.

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La visión del 2020: una regeneración de año nuevo

Más allá de la contaminación mediática, de la obsesión con la corrupción de Trump y de las interminables distracciones de la temporada navideña, probablemente no tenga que recordarle que el final de la era moderna está por llegar.

Como la mayoría de nosotros ya nos hemos dado cuenta, incluso mientras reprimimos este pensamiento para mantener nuestra cordura, nos estamos acercando rápidamente al “punto de no retorno”, por el cual nuestra emergencia climática del siglo XXI y el colapso social comienzan a transformarse en una catástrofe global.

A pesar de encontrarnos en plena celebración de las navidades con familia y amigos, es difícil evitar pensar en la “emergencia” y los delincuentes climáticos, los políticos condicionados contractualmente y los negadores del clima que nos han arrastrado al precipicio.

Nuestra casa común está “en llamas” como Greta Thunberg nos recuerda. Y como Arundhati Roy lamenta: “cada vez es más difícil comunicar la magnitud de la crisis incluso a nosotros mismos. Una descripción precisa corre el riesgo de sonar como una hipérbole”.

Pero lo que mis aliados y yo en el movimiento de regeneración global queremos decirles es que existe una solución práctica que nos puede sacar de este callejón sin salida donde nos encontramos y que ya está lista para ser implementada: un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde Regenerativo impulsado por la mayor concientización de las bases, un movimiento climático liderado por jóvenes y una revolución en las urnas del 2020.

Hace mucho tiempo que necesitamos una transformación de nuestros sistemas agrícola y de energía que convierta nuestra economía, basada en los combustibles fósiles y emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, a energías renovables; junto con la implementación generalizada de prácticas orgánicas y regenerativas, revegetación, reforestación, recarbonización y rehidratación de nuestras tierras de cultivo, pastizales y bosques. Todo esto reducirá drásticamente las emisiones globales (en un 50% o más) durante la próxima década, a la vez que captura las emisiones restantes en nuestros suelos, bosques y plantas.

La gran transición a las energías renovables y la conservación radical de la energía, en combinación con el mayor poder de la fotosíntesis y la captura de carbono de los alimentos, la agricultura y el uso de la tierra regenerativos, harán posible alcanzar emisiones netas zero para el 2030. Eso permitirá al mundo cambiar a emisiones netas negativas durante las siguientes décadas, literalmente extrayendo suficiente CO2 de la atmósfera no solo para mitigar sino para revertir el calentamiento global y así restaurar la estabilidad climática, la fertilidad del suelo, los medios de vida rurales y la salud pública.

Un exceso de pesimismo ha nublado nuestra visión colectiva, reforzando los muros que nos dividen, y robándonos el optimismo y la energía positiva que nos dan vida y que necesitamos para llevar a cabo una revolución política.

Tenemos el poder de poner fin a los negocios como siempre. Desde los pequeños negocios de las calles principales de todos los pueblos y ciudades estadounidenses hasta Oriente Medio y más allá, podemos generar el cambio inspirándonos en las tendencias positivas y las mejores prácticas (energía alternativa, alimentación y agricultura orgánicas y regenerativas, restauración de ecosistemas, insurgencia política y acción directa) empleadas en millones de ciudades, pueblos y comunidades rurales alrededor del mundo.

Nosotros, los movimientos de base de todo el mundo, podemos avanzar y resolver la crisis climática y todas las demás crisis interrelacionadas que nos afectan: pobreza, injusticia económica, deterioro de la salud pública, destrucción del medio ambiente, conflicto social, guerra interminable, erosión de la democracia y dominación y control de las élites. Las soluciones regenerativas que necesitamos, de hecho, se manifiestan en este mismo momento, en cada nación, en cada región, señalando la forma de transformar cada aspecto de nuestras vidas.

Las soluciones que necesitamos no están más lejos que el panel solar, el parque eólico, el edificio modernizado, el carril bici, el vehículo eléctrico, el jardín comunitario, el mercado de agricultores, la granja orgánica y el rancho de gestión integral más cercanos. Las soluciones que necesitamos se encuentran en la punta de nuestros tenedores y cuchillos, debajo de los árboles que nos dan sombra, el suelo que captura el carbono debajo de nuestros pies, los dólares de consumidores en nuestras billeteras y nuestra cabina de votación más cercana.

 

Regeneración y el auge de los movimientos de base mundiales

 

En el camino del proselitismo para la producción orgánica y la regeneración, una de las preguntas más frecuentes que me hacen es algo algo así:

“Ronnie, dada la atmósfera política actual y el estado del clima y el planeta, ¿por qué es tan optimista?”

Si en este momento tuviéramos el tiempo y el espacio, me complacería darle una respuesta larga como un libro sobre por qué soy tan optimista. De hecho, acabo de escribir un libro así. Se llama “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal” (El auge de las comunidades de base mundiales: un llamado a la acción sobre el clima, la agricultura, la alimentación y un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde), publicado por la editorial Chelsea Green Publishers. El libro saldrá a la venta el 11 de febrero. (Puede pre-ordenar una copia aquí).

Pero para mayor brevedad, y para que usted y yo podamos volver a nuestra alegría navideña, aquí tiene un resumen de mi visión del 2020, cuatro razones por las que soy optimista de que las cosas están a punto de cambiar:

  1. Un movimiento climático radical liderado por jóvenes, el Movimiento Sunrise, Extinction Rebellion, los Viernes para el Futuro y otros han ayudado a hacer de la emergencia climática un tema de vanguardia, no solo en América del Norte y Europa, sino en todo el mundo.

 

  1. Un socialista radical y democrático, el senador Bernie Sanders, que pide una revolución política y una transformación fundamental del sistema energético, socioeconómico, político y alimentario y agrícola de los EE. UU., bajo la bandera de un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde, tiene una oportunidad real de convertirse en el próximo presidente de los Estados Unidos. Con todo el mundo observando con interés, una Casa Blanca con Bernie Sanders y un nuevo equilibrio de poder en el Congreso, inspirado en un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde, darán impulso a las comunidades de base mundiales.

 

  1. Los alimentos, la agricultura, el uso del suelo regenerativos y la restauración del ecosistema se han convertido de repente en los temas más importantes, emocionantes y comentados en los círculos climáticos, alimentarios y agrícolas. Las personas finalmente están entendiendo lo que los científicos mundiales, el Movimiento Sunrise y el Nuevo Acuerdo verde han estado exigiendo: la necesidad de tanto una transición rápida a energía alternativa como a alimentos y agricultura orgánicos / regenerativos para alcanzar emisiones netas cero para el 2030.

 

  1. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, la miembro integrante del Congreso más joven de la historia, y la líder más radical y carismática en los EE. UU. desde los asesinatos de Robert Kennedy y Martin Luther King en 1968, cumplirá 35 años en octubre de 2024, lo que la hace elegible para suceder a Bernie Sanders (si elige servir solo un período) como la primera mujer, y la primera mujer de color, en convertirse en presidenta de los EE. UU.

 

Es cierto que nuestra nueva visión del mundo y nuestro movimiento por un Nuevo Acuerdo Verde Regenerativo aún se encuentran en las primeras etapas de desarrollo. La mayoría de las personas en el mundo nunca ha escuchado la historia completa sobre el poder milagroso del mejoramiento de la fertilidad del suelo, la restauración del ecosistema, el pastoreo holístico y la fotosíntesis de las plantas para extraer suficiente dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera a nuestros suelos y biota para reestabilizar el clima, revertir el calentamiento global, mejorar la calidad de vida de los pequeños agricultores y las comunidades rurales y producir suficientes alimentos de alta calidad para todo el planeta.

Lo que emociona en verdad es ver cómo las personas, especialmente los jóvenes, las mujeres y las comunidades rurales y oprimidas se sienten inspiradas al escuchar sobre el sorprendente potencial de regeneración. Esta es una regeneración que se combina con energía alternativa y justicia ambiental, que nos une a todos en una campaña común por el cambio real. Una revolución que es un llamado activo para la unión y el compromiso entre consumidores, agricultores, activistas, empresas progresistas y funcionarios públicos informados.

Esta década difícil y realmente aterradora ha terminado y para citar al poeta ganador del Premio Nobel de Estados Unidos, Bob Dylan, “Dejémonos de falsedades ahora, se está haciendo tarde”.

 

Únase a nosotros hoy mientras construimos un movimiento para cambiar el mundo.

 

Ronnie Cummins es el director internacional de Organic Consumers Association (OCA) y miembro de la junta directiva de Regeneration International (RI). Su Nuevo libroGrassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal” saldrá a la venta en febrero de 2020. Para mantenerse informado de las noticias y alertas de RI, regístrese aquí.

 

Publicado con permiso de Common Dreams

Soil Carbon: The Secret Weapon to Battle Climate Change?

Human society is literally built on soil. It feeds the world and produces vital fuel and fiber. But most people rarely give soil a second thought.

Recently, though, soil has been getting some well-deserved attention from environmental organizations, policymakers and industry leaders. It has been covered in news articles, argued over in policy debates and has even received an international day of recognition.

Why all this attention? Because the world urgently needs ways to keep carbon out of the atmosphere, and to build food security for a rapidly growing global population. Soil can do both.

However, current efforts to promote carbon storage in soil miss a key point: Not all soil carbon is the same. As scientists focusing on soil ecology and sustainability, we believe that managing soil carbon effectively requires taking its differences into account.

Soil carbon is amazingly complex

Building up soil carbon can help cut greenhouse gas concentrations in the air. It also improves soil quality in many ways: It gives soil structure, stores water and nutrients that plants need and feeds vital soil organisms.

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Growing Food, Growing Climate Change: Why We Need an Agricultural Shift

Burger King has the meatless Impossible Burger. Del Taco boasts two plant-based burritos. Celebrities like J-Lo and Venus Williams have gone vegan. Seems like the message is out: eat more veggies and skip the meat. Not only for your personal health, but also for the health of the planet. Companies are responding to the demand for healthier and more sustainable foods. The intentions are good. The message is wrong.

As a Functional Medicine physician and founder of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, I’m the first one to tell my patients they need more plant-rich foods, especially vegetables. I also support people who choose vegetarianism or veganism for ethical reasons (although neither of those diets guarantee healthful eating).

My advice for everyone is to make at least half of every meal vegetables. In fact, we could reverse chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease if we all started eating a plant-rich diet and avoided refined and ultraprocessed foods, gluten and most dairy. Research backs this up.

 

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