A potentially great organizing tool with some weaknesses in agriculture, forestry and water management

  • Global Moderator

    Please read the following interchange which provides some details.

    The following is based on an email dialog between Robert Shapiro and Claryce Evans.

    Robert forwarded to Claryce Ezra Silks email “The Climate Emergency and the Election: A Pathway to WWII-Scale Mobilization” published in Common Dreams.

    Claryce responds:
    I’m glad to see that people are trying to elect Clinton and have a plan for pushing her on climate when/if she is elected.
    There are parts of it, however, which are worrisome to me: a climate summit which is to include engineers but no ecologists, biologists, hydrologists, or ranchers; the suggestion of carbon sequestration without mentioning plants suggests mechanical sequestration; urging a plant-based diet without mention of what to do about grasslands or forests; no mention of the drying out of the continents which is leading to less food and more disruption and war; no mention of any of the current positive feedback loops - too much CO2 in the atmosphere leading to heat and drought leading to more and stronger wildfires, leading to increased CO2 in the atmosphere and less absorption of water in the once-forest soil; no mention of water management; and no mention of the French proposal for 4/1000.
    I am just now reading Water in Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World by Judith Schwartz which I recommend to anyone wanting to get a better understanding of rain.

    Robert responds:
    Yes!! You mention deficiencies that many of the Climate organizations ignore. Focusing on energy generation and the use of renewables to solve that problem ignores other very important issues. Please read the draft Victory Plan which describes in some detail the Climate Mobilization being proposed by TCM.

    Claryce responds:
    I read the victory plan (though quickly through some sections). I think it could become an important organizing document. I appreciated the explanation of the sense of urgency, and appreciated how comprehensive it is. Lots of separate parts for groups to work on.
    I did, of course, find things to disagree with but have sent the plan on to the UU group and hope some people will be interested in forming a group to read it carefully.

    Claryce writes in a second email:
    I still haven’t read the victory document carefully, but here are a few fairly random thoughts (also probably fairly predictable).
    I think I mentioned earlier that the list of experts does not include ecologists, biologists, hydrologists, land managers who are already bringing water back to the soil, etc.
    They recommend a plant based diet. “It’s better to grow lentils than to grow corn to feed to cattle” does not take into account that there is land (probably quite a bit if you look at the total planet) which is not suitable for annual crops (or even the perennial plants which have been developed by the Land Institute - I was glad they took note of the Land Institute) and is not suitable for agroforestry - it works best (and possibly only) as grassland. In general, when climate conscious people talk about meat they often focus only on “factory” farmed cattle, poultry. They do not mention grass fed beef and bison or raising chickens which help keep the insects out of the vegetable plants. We probably need to eat less meat but we also need to eat meat which is differently raised.
    There is, I think, no discussion of the ways in which water cycles cool areas of the planet.
    I appreciated that they view the need to address climate change as an opportunity for building a broader movement and it reminded me of Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything.
    America viewed as capable of “leading” the world in this effort - will we ever start to think of “America” (meaning the US) as “joining” the rest of the world.
    So good that they address consumption and population growth. Almost no one does. Dealing with population growth seems to be unpopular left and right - either it suggests following the Chinese or punishing poor people around the world for a problem “we” created.
    In the short term, cutting greenhouse gases does not cool the earth fast enough. We also need rain.

    I don’t think Hansen set 350 as a goal. I think he talked about climate change, including some numbers, but that McKibbon chose 350 - which is probably higher than Hansen would have chosen.
    They mention “carbon sequestering perennial industrial crops.” I wonder what that means.
    Re food: fossil fuels used to grow and also important but less discussed fuel to transport. Or decorative flowers flown in from South America midwinter. There is one person (in Oregon I think, but maybe Washington) encouraging us to think about clothing and fossil fuels - including recommending no coal tar dyes.
    Hadn’t heard of The Carbon Farming Solution by Eric Toensmeier. Will check it out.
    Federal agricultural policy - the Center for Rural Affairs (Lyons, NE) and the Organic Consumers Association are part of a coalition trying to get changes in the next federal agricultural bill. (It comes up for reauthorization every ?? maybe 5 ?? years.) They are working for a change in land restoration which I don’t remember and for a change in federally funded crop insurance which benefits mostly very large land owners and which is an incentive to farm land which is unsuitable (too fragile) for farming.
    We probably need to eat less meat but we also need to eat meat which is differently raised.
    Using degraded pasture and crop land for wind farms — better to put the windmills where the wind is most reliable and restore the land.
    Stopping livestock grazing on federal lands is quite a bad idea. One thing which I think has been shown on federal land in the US, on animal preserves in Africa, and in very large ranches in Australia - manage the animals differently. When I grew up the general belief was that if a pasture had little grass or poor grass it was necessary to put fewer cattle on it or put no cattle on it for a year. People have now shown, I think conclusively, that managing them differently works much better - and that taking them off entirely is a very bad idea.
    They don’t mention agroforestry. Some interesting work being done which is beneficial to people in very poor communities.
    Walter Jehne of Healthy Soils Australia is one of the most informed, sensible people re carbon, soil, water, etc. For people who like numbers, he has lots of numbers.

  • Alex Smith’s radio show EccoShock has convinced me that if we were to go to zero carbon input tomorrow the earth would still be in deep trouble. Removing carbon from the atmosphere is required. Perhaps 250 ppm (pre industrial) or just above that is the correct level.
    For 20 years from 1970 to 1990 I practiced intense rotational grazing and also taught it in the 14 north eastern states. I tripled the carrying capacity (productivity) of my farm during just 10 of those years. Each acre of land under management offset the carbon footprint of an entire Vermont household. This is just one pellet of silver buckshot needed to reverse this catastrophe. We have unleashed as much carbon by agg practices as by burning fossil fuels and that much more by destructive forest management. Putting the carbon back in the soil would improve the quality and quantity of food and forest production and at the same time reduce runoff (flooding) in extreme precipitation event. All methods of sequestration should be considered. Paying people to sequester may be one of the catalysts, perhaps through a fossil fuel carbon tax. Somehow the real cost of pollution and resource depletion must be in the cost of goods and services so the market can get at least some of the message.
    This is my first post and I have only had a cursory look at past discussions. Please let me know of things I should look at.

    It is now December 19th and I have recently attended an intense three day seminar with Walter Jehne on soils and cooling the planet through driving the water cycle and covering bare soil and surfaces with green growing plants. It appears to be an approach that uses the power of our climatic system to cool while we wean ourselves onto a more sustainable way of life. It would sequester carbon but the cooling would prmarily come from the climate system and the reduced greenhouses gas would help us to stay cool. An overview of the early part of the symposium can be found here www.bobthegreenguy.com/GreenZine/

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