How Carbon Farming Can Reverse Climate Change


graze here on a ranch in the Sand Hill region of North Central Nebraska. Grasslands cover a large percentage of the planet and research demonstrates greater potential with improved management (such as compost additions and plant composition) to increase soil carbon.Andrea Basche, Union of Concerned Scientists | May 21, 2016 1:35 pm

Are there agricultural practices that might offer more potential than the ones commonly discussed in the “carbon farming” conversation? In a companion post, I wrote about what the science tells us about cover cropping and reduced tillage, two practices getting a lot of attention in what I’ve called the “carbon farming” rage. Here I want to address some more agroecological practices, those that incorporate ecological principles and what is known from field research about their ability to add carbon to the soil.

What Do We Know About Soil Carbon Potential Beyond the Basic Conservation Practices?

There is less research on the relationship of agroecological practices, such as crop rotations, agroforestry and improved grazing-based systems, with soil carbon—but what is known is very positive. A synthesis paper of global field studies found that crops in rotation plus cover crops increased total soil carbon by 8.5 percent. Some estimates have suggested that when land is shifted from use for growing agricultural crops to pasture for livestock, carbon increases significantly (by 19 percent, according to one study synthesizing several research sites). The same analysis found that returning some cropland to forest could lead to even larger soil carbon gains (up to 53 percent).

On grazing lands, which cover around 25 percent of lands globally, changes to management (for example, compost additions or improved grazing practices such as fertilizer additions or the use of native plant communities) can increase soil carbon such that small changes make a big difference when scaled up. Further, on the option of integrating of trees into agricultural lands, scientists have estimated the potential of agroforestry systems to increase soil carbon to be approximately 95 times greater than the conservation practices of no-till, cover crops and crop rotations (as estimated by one analysis that looked at many studies in the tropics).

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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Buying Local: Do Food Miles Matter?

Full lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from common proteins and vegetables. Copyright © Environmental Working Group, Reprinted with permission.

Faculty Insight

Gary Adamkiewicz

Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Exposure Disparities, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Gary Adamkiewicz, instructor of From Farm to Fork: Why What You Eat Matters, discusses the nuances of food miles and their impact on our climate.

I am dependent on foreign oil.

Not that kind. Olive.

Whether it’s grapes from Chile or olive oil from Italy, odds are, you consumed something today that logged more than 1,000 miles from the farm to your fork. Concerns about the effects of this transport on our climate have inspired many to embrace their inner “locavore” by limiting the food miles on their dinner plate.

Will buying local food slow climate change?

The short answer is that buying local food is a good principle, but not a universal rule. Some of the biggest climate effects can happen before a corn cob leaves the farm or a steer leaves the feedlot.

To quantify this, we need to account for all steps in the lifecycle of our food, from cradle to grave. Transportation is just one slice of that lifecycle. The figure below, based on an analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), illustrates this fact by separating the effect of production from emissions once the food leaves the farm.

Lamb, beef, and pork are among the biggest climate offenders. And these effects are not driven by their transport. In fact, a 2013 United Nations report showed that globally, livestock represent 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This would be comparable to emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other transport combined.

For the climate, your dinner might increase your carbon footprint more than your driving.

What’s driving production emissions?

For produce, production emissions can include the energy that goes into chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the diesel-powered farm equipment, or greenhouses heated to extend the growing season.

For livestock, it’s all that and more because we grow large quantities of feed grain. It can take more than 10 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. If that grain is energy-intensive, that beef is going to be much more so. And by the way, cows and other ruminant animals also belch methane, which has 21 times the greenhouse potential of carbon dioxide.

…(read more).

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Public Campaign Against Exxon Has Roots in a 2012 Meeting


Naomi Oreskes, a science historian and professor, in the Science Center at Harvard University. Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

The activists who have painted a bright target on the back of Exxon Mobil have “colluded to push politically motivated investigations of climate dissent,” and conducted a “real-life RICO-type conspiracy.”

So say defenders of the energy company, who in recent weeks have tried to flip the script on the activists whose work helped set the stage for the current investigations of possible conflicts between Exxon Mobil’s public and private statements on climate change.

They say the environmentalists have been holding a series of meetings and discussions to plot their strategy, dating back to a gathering in La Jolla, a San Diego community, in 2012. That meeting was conceived of by Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard whose work has drawn parallels between the public affairs strategies of the tobacco industry and fossil fuel companies.

Critics refer to that founding group as the La Jolla Junta. The discussions would grow over time to include groups like the climate campaigners and the Rockefeller family philanthropies.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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Peter Bane – How I’m Preparing for the Local Future: Permaculture


Uploaded on Oct 16, 2011

Permaculture – (n) agricultural system or method that seeks to integrate human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems

Educator Peter Bane is preparing for the local future, beyond the global economy and after peak oil. Bane’s talk is the story of the history of permaculture, and how he has used permaculture methods to move towards a self-sustaining homestead using free or low-cost techniques.

Peter Bane is the publisher of Permaculture Activist Magazine for 20 years. He is a garden farmer in Bloomington, Indiana. He teaches permaculture design for Indiana University. He has a bachelors from University in Illinois in political design. Bane has a diplomna in permaculture design from the British Academy of Permculture design. He served on the peak oil task force for the City of Bloomington, Indiana, which was adopted in 2009 December. Bane is currently working on a permaculture handbook for people who live in the suburbs.

In this talk, Bane describes, in his own words, how he is moving beyond the money economy, to providing his essential needs from his homestead, and how he is utilizing the principles of permaculture.

This talk immediately followed Nicole Foss’s talk on how she prepared her family for peak oil and economic uncertainty.

Recorded at the International Conference on Sustainability: Energy, Economy, Environment 2010 hosted by Local Future and directed by Aaron Wissner.

Global Climate Change
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Nate Hagens: The End of Growth


Published on Dec 20, 2012

Madison, WI
Energy Hub, UW-Madison

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Nate Hagens – Limits to Growth: Where We Are and What to Do About It

The Extraenvironmentalist

Published on Oct 15, 2014

Recorded October 14th in Vancouver, BC

Production Notes: Unfortunately, our lighting washed out Nate’s face for the first 1/3 of this video, especially on the close angle

Is the global economy hitting the limits to growth?

In this talk, Nate Hagens will synthesize the current landscape of global energy, environment and financial risks while offering suggestions on what to do as a hominid living on a full planet. He will raise the question of whether it is possible to degrow our economies with conscious effort before our options are constrained by external forces. After a quick summary of the situation, he will lead a conversation with the audience on appropriate responses to these challenges. Are large climate rallies accomplishing anything? If they aren’t, what is a better plan of action?

Nate Hagens:

Nate Hagens is a well-known speaker on the big picture issues facing human society. Until recently he was lead editor of The Oil Drum, one of the most popular and highly-respected websites for analysis and discussion of global energy supplies and the future implications of energy decline. Nate is currently on the Boards of Post Carbon Institute, Bottleneck Foundation, IIER and Institute for the Study of Energy and the Future.

Nate’s presentations address the opportunities and constraints we face after the coming end of economic growth. On the supply side, Nate focuses on the interrelationship between debt-based financial markets and natural resources, particularly energy. On the demand side, Nate addresses the evolutionarily-derived underpinnings to status, addiction, and our aversion to acting about the future and offers suggestions on how individuals and society might better adapt to what’s ahead. Ultimately, Nate’s talks cover the issues relevant to propelling our species (and others) into deep time.

Nate has appeared on PBS, BBC, ABC and NPR, and has lectured around the world. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers.

Global Climate Change
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Davos 2016 – Culture and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

World Economic Forum

Published on Feb 8, 2016

Join this special session opening with the first-ever large-scale collective viewing of a virtual reality film, followed by an intergenerational discussion on the stewardship of our planet for future generations. This session features the world premiere of the virtual reality film, Collisions.
Collisions, by Lynette Wallworth, takes participants on a journey to the remote Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia to discover what happens when indigenous tradition meets Western science.

· Alanda Kariza, Business Director, Sinergi Muda, Indonesia · Nyarri Morgan, Artist, Martumili Artists, USA.
· Lynette Wallworth, Artist, Studio Wallworth, Australia.

Moderated by Michael Oreskes, Head of News, Editorial Director and Senior Vice-President, National Public Radio, USA.

Global Climate Change
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