How Ecological Farming Builds Resilience to Climate Change
You might be surprised that Greenpeace was at an agribusiness conference. The room was full of agri-business people, who are not the crowd we normally engage with; they are the crowd we normally challenge with our campaigns. However, I appreciated having the opportunity to be a dissenting voice and to talk about how ecological farming is a more resilient and sustainable model to produce diverse and healthy food in the face of erratic climate patterns.
The model of farming we choose can either make us more vulnerable, or help us both to be more resilient to our changing climate and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot afford to endlessly discuss the effects of global climate change on agriculture and do nothing about it. In fact, the impacts of climate change—like massive droughts, typhoons and storms—are already appearing and are consistent with climate change scenario predictions. The time for debate is over. Now is the time to tackle the problem head-on with real solutions.
One approach—the one that many of the Global Agribusiness Forum attendees support—is continuing to expand the chemical-intensive industrial agriculture model. Yet, this model has already shown itself to be fundamentally flawed and unable to address the climate challenges the world is already experiencing. In fact, it firstly requires stable climates and optimal growing conditions for highly specialized seeds to achieve high yields. Second, the model relies on vast areas of monoculture (large scale planting of a single crop), which harm biodiversity. Third, this model is also dependent on expensive chemical products (pesticides and fertilizers), which lead to farmer indebtedness, heavily pollute the environment, damage natural biodiversity and are based on fossil fuels. The fossil fuel dependence, in particular, means that as fossil fuel prices rise, food prices rise, causing increased suffering for the world’s poor people.
A better approach to ensure food production under challenging climatic conditions is ecological farming, a system based on diversity of nature to produce food for all: the diversity of seeds and plants; the diversity of many different crops grown at the same time in the same field; the diversity of insects which pollinate (like bees) or eliminate pests; the diversity of farming systems mixing crops with livestock. The result is a diverse range of food that is healthy for both people and the planet.
A good example of how ecological farming builds resilience to climate change is growing crops with beans, which are protein-rich and flavorful, but also can help play a role in climate adaptation. Scientists from Wageningen University in the Netherlands recently found that beans greatly improve poor soils, increase productivity of maize when grown with them, and respond well to drought. They also have multiple uses for food, animal feed, and soil fertility. These scientists found that growing maize and beans next to each other increased income by 67 percent without the use of any chemical fertilizers and farmers were interested in adopting it.
All eyes are now on emerging economies—Brazil, China and India—who together produce and consume the majority of food on the planet. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released today, points out, our food system is going to be impacted negatively, especially in these countries. It is very possible that climate change will bring the economic development of these crucial regions to a virtual standstill. However, this is not inevitable.
The solutions of ecological farming exist and can be built upon to create a new food future. And, Brazil has a strong ecological farming movement that has already succeeded in achieving a national policy on agroecology (the science of ecological farming). They can help to lead the way. But, alongside the ecological farming model, Brazil is investing heavily in expanding industrial agriculture. Thus, Brazil currently has two parallel models that can not co-exist together: one based on growing food with the diversity of nature, that is healthy for people and the planet; the other based on chemical-intensive monocultures to grow commodity crops for export that mostly feed animals. However, only by shifting financial resources to support widescale uptake of ecological farming will Brazil show global leadership and become a beacon of modern and innovative agriculture.
Other countries are looking to Brazil to share their experiences, especially those in Africa, a region desperately in need of a system that can not only sufficiently feed people but also face the most dramatic manifestations of climate change. As an African, I can tell you that Africa doesn’t need or want the chemical-intensive industrial agriculture model. What Africa wants is for Brazil to share its successes with ecological farming and show the entire world that ecological farming is indeed the only path to ensure healthy food for people, protect the environment and cope with climate change.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Offshore Wind Power Is Ready to Boom. Here's What That Means for ... ›
- American Skyscrapers Kill an Estimated 600 Million Migratory Birds ... ›
Kentucky is coping with historic flooding after a weekend of record-breaking rainfall, enduring water rescues, evacuations and emergency declarations.
<div id="0f31c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4290ab3e7ec4e142f8bce774bab39f03"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1366307788155219969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Just got back from my office... downtown Beattyville Kentucky is not a pretty sight. @KySportsRadio… https://t.co/6nXwyMKtRb</div> — Tom Jones (@Tom Jones)<a href="https://twitter.com/8atticus/statuses/1366307788155219969">1614588136.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b41a2da6bf23cc19a5f38c2dc6c5f9fc"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/dekalbtnfire/photos/a.924258171004562/3713119618785056/"></div></div>
Spring is coming. And soon, tree swallows will start building nests. But as the climate changes, the birds are nesting earlier in the spring.
- Spring Is Arriving Earlier Across the U.S. - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts - EcoWatch ›
- The Unsettling Reason Why We're Seeing More Snowy Owls ... ›
Citigroup will strive to reach net-zero greenhouse gas pollution across its lending portfolio by 2050 and in its own operations by 2030, the investment group announced Monday.
- 20 Attorneys General Launch Climate Fraud Investigation of Exxon ... ›
- Exxon Plans to Increase Its Climate Pollution - EcoWatch ›
- Exxon to Slash 14,000 Jobs Worldwide as Oil Demand Drops ... ›