"It is easy to forget that once upon a time all agriculture was organic, grassfed and regenerative. Seed saving, composting, fertilizing with manure, polycultures, no-till and raising livestock entirely on grass—all of which we associate today with sustainable food production—was the norm in the ‘old days’ of merely a century ago, not the exception as it is now. Somehow, back then we managed to feed ourselves and do so in a manner that followed nature’s model of regeneration.
“We all know what happened next: the plow, the tractor, fossil fuels, monocrops, nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, feedlots, animal byproducts, e. coli, CAFOs, GMOs, erosion, despair—practices and conditions that most Americans today think of as ‘normal,’ when they think about agriculture at all.
“Fortunately, a movement to rediscover and implement ‘old’ practices of bygone days has risen rapidly, abetted by innovations in technology, breakthroughs in scientific knowledge, and tons of old-fashioned, on-the-ground problem-solving.”
—Courtney White, The Carbon Pilgrim, Nov. 16, 2014
A critical mass of climate scientists have warned us repeatedly that we must reduce the concentration of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere to 350 parts-per-million (ppm) in order to preserve life on Earth.
Unfortunately the business-as-usual behavior of out-of-control corporations, indentured politicians and hordes of mindless consumers, continues to lead to billions of tons of CO2 and greenhouse gases (GHGs) being pumped into our already (398 ppm) supersaturated atmosphere and ocean. By the time major reductions in fossil fuel use take effect—in 20 years, if we’re lucky—it could be too late. By then, we will likely have reached 450 ppm or more, approaching the point of no return, where serious climate instability morphs into climate catastrophe.
While climate scientists sound their alarms on the global warming front, agronomists and hunger experts warn of equally catastrophic events. They tell us that unless we embark on a global campaign to reduce the damages of industrial agriculture, restore soil fertility (especially on the 22 percent of potential arable lands now eroded or desertified), improve crop quality and food nutrition, and conserve water, we face increasing rural poverty, starvation, and permanent food and water wars, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where the majority of the world’s population live.
These looming disasters—climate catastrophe, and rural poverty, starvation, and food and water wars—are not entirely unrelated. And neither are their solutions.
We can reverse (not just mitigate) global warming. And while we’re at it, we can also restore soil fertility, eliminate rural poverty and hunger. We can do this by sequestering several hundred billion tons of excess CO2 from the atmosphere, using the traditional, time-tested tools we already have at hand: regenerative organic farming, ranching and land use.
What will it take to make this world-changing transition to a livable Earth?