Quantcast

How World Leaders Can Solve Global Warming With Regenerative Farming

Climate

France, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the U.K., Germany and Mexico are among the more than two dozen countries that have so far signed on to what one day will likely be recognized as the most significant climate initiative in history.

France's 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate puts regenerative food and farming front and center in the climate solutions conversation. This is why the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), our Mexico affiliate, Via Organica, IFOAM Organics International and more than 50 of our other activist allies across the globe have signed on in support of the initiative.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government is not yet on board with the plan—even though our country's toxic, fossil-fuel-based, heavily subsidized (with taxpayer money), degenerative industrial agriculture system is a primary driver of global warming.

A Global Problem, A Global Solution

Leaders from 190 countries convened in Paris on Nov. 30 for the 14-day COP21 Paris Climate Conference. This year, for the first time in more than 20 years of United Nations (UN) climate negotiations, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) set out to achieve something concrete: “a legally binding and universal agreement to make sure the Earth doesn't get warmer than 2°C above pre-industrial levels."

To meet that goal, the French Government launched the 4/1000 Initiative which, distilled to simplest terms, says this: If, on a global scale, we increase the soil carbon content of the soil by .04 percent each year for the next 25 years, we can draw down a critical mass of excess carbon from the atmosphere and begin to reverse global warming.

Is the French initiative realistic? Yes, even by conservative estimates.

Industrial, degenerative farming practices, which include tilling, deforestation, wetlands destruction and the use of massive amounts of synthetic and toxic fertilizers and pesticides, have stripped 136 billion tons of carbon out of the soil and sent it up into the atmosphere. Using the French government's modest estimates, we can transfer, via enhanced plant photosynthesis, 150 billion tons of this carbon back into the soil in the next 25 years.

How do we achieve those numbers? All we have to do is help just 10 percent of the world's farmers and ranchers adopt regenerative organic agriculture, holistic grazing and land management practices—and by help, we mean direct a portion of the billions of dollars earmarked for climate solution projects to farmers who regenerate, not degenerate, the world's soils.

That's a game changer. But only if enough players get in game.

Read page 1

The Plan is Here, The Time is Now

According to a Dec. 1 press release from the French agriculture minister's office:

This initiative intends to show that a small increase of 4/1000 per year of the soil carbon stock (agricultural soils, notably grasslands and pastures and forest soils) is a major leverage in order to improve soil fertility, resilience of farmers and contribute to the long-term objective of keeping the global average temperature increase below 2 degrees.

France's Agriculture Minister, Stéphane Le Foll, said that initiative partners, which so far include the UN, developed and developing states, international organizations, private foundations, international funds, NGOs, consumer and farmers' organizations, have committed to implementing appropriate soil management practices and to recognizing the importance of soil health for the transition towards productive, highly resilient agriculture.

Le Foll told the French media that the 4/1000 has become a global initiative, but it's just the beginning:

“We need to keep going and mobilize even more stakeholders in a transition to achieve both food security and climate mitigation thanks to agriculture."

Will the U.S. become one of those stakeholders? Or will our leaders side with the Monsantos and Bill Gates of the world and continue to promote an agricultural system that directly and indirectly contributes 50 percent (or more) of the greenhouse gas emissions that are burning up the planet? A system that has failed to feed the world, failed to reduce the use of toxic poisons, failed to bring prosperity to the world's small farmers, failed to produce healthy, nutritious food—a system whose successes can only be counted in terms of gross profits, shareholder value and political clout.

Whatever It Takes

President Obama, who attended the COP21, hasn't been shy about linking global warming to national security. The President recently told PoliticPro:

"If we let the world keep warming as fast as it is and sea-levels rising as fast as they are and weather patterns keep shifting in unexpected ways, then before long we are going to have to devote more and more and more of our economic and military resources not to growing opportunity for our people, but to adapting to the various consequences of a changing planet," Obama said. "This is an economic and security imperative that we have to tackle now."

If focusing on the economy and national security is what it takes to motivate Obama to tackle climate change, we're all for it. After all, global warming threatens to displace millions of people, many of whom already are in a struggle just to survive.

We're also all for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which is why we support the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan which requires states to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030. Absolutely, let's transition from an extractive, fossil fuel-intensive energy system to a clean, renewable alternative. That transition should be a vital part of any global strategy to mitigate climate change.

But reducing emissions solves only half of the problem. We also have to draw down the billions of tons of CO2 currently heating up the atmosphere. Unless we address the climate change elephant in the room—Big Ag—we will fail to solve the climate crisis.

Scientists estimate the world's soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their carbon stocks and fertility. Modern chemical-intensive, factory-farm, GMO-based industrial agriculture is largely responsible for that loss. Left unchecked, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness will continue to destroy our soils, pollute our bodies and eventually take the whole planet down with them.

The French initiative is the most direct, most practical and only shovel-ready plan for reversing climate change.

We don't need and don't have time to wait for expensive, unproven techno-fixes à la Bill Gates, some of which haven't even made it to the prototype stage and many of which could come with unintended consequences.

We don't need a corporate-focused “Climate-Smart Agriculture" scheme that promotes business as usual.

And we definitely shouldn't put our faith in Monsanto's “carbon-neutral" but “poison-positive" plan.

What we need is to pressure President Obama to pledge U.S. support for France's 4/1000 Initiative, now. If we're going to subsidize any form of agriculture, it should be the regenerative, truly climate-friendly, health-friendly, farmer-friendly type.

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association and a board member of Regeneration International.

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association (U.S.) and Via Organica (Mexico) and a member of the Regeneration International Steering Committee.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Latest Draft of COP21 Climate Agreement: A Slap in the Face

Sandra Steingraber: Dispatches From the Paris Climate Talks

Russia Wants to Be World's Top Exporter of Non-GMO Food

Monsanto to Be Put on Trial for 'Crimes Against Nature and Humanity'

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less