This past September of 2016 was a not-so-good milestone that our planet reached. September is usually a time when the planet’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is at it’s lowest, but this past month saw it not dip below that 400 level threshold.
While the image above declares that this level might be something we experience for the rest of our lives, there are known solutions to reversing this effect that scientists know about and continue to discuss to a growing audience.
As is widely known, carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase since the industrial revolution and contributes to what is supposed to be the hottest year on record, according to NOAA.
While most institutions continue to claim there is nothing we can do to stop this “greenhouse effect,” there are solutions that could be implemented immediately. While the Paris Agreement discusses cutting back on carbon emissions, that action is trivial and does not at all address the root of the issue. Even if we as a collective stopped emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at this very moment, it would still take decades for the CO2 levels to fall to safe levels.
An animation showing how carbon dioxide moves around the planet. Credit: NASA
What must be done, and is known how to do, is to safely pull the CO2 from the atmosphere back into the ground.
“Why reduce the problem, when you can actually reverse it?” In an interview with RT, Tom Newmark posed this question. Tom is the Co-Founder and Chairman of The Carbon Underground, which is an organization that teaches about the importance of soil carbon sequestering. Carbon sequestering is a long-practiced method of pulling carbon from the air down into the plants, it’s roots and into the soil.
This method also has the scientific understanding and proof to be extremely effective. The well known author, journalist and activist Michael Pollan says how regenerative farming and carbon sequestering work:
“Consider what happens when the sun shines on a grass plant rooted in the earth. Using that light as a catalyst, the plant takes atmospheric CO2, splits off and releases the oxygen, and synthesizes liquid carbon-sugars, basically. Some of these sugars go to feed and build the aerial portions of the plant we can see, but a large percentage of this liquid carbon-somewhere between 20 and 40 percent-travels underground, leaking out of the roots and into the soil. The roots are feeding these sugars to the soil microbes-the bacteria and fungi that inhabit the rhizosphere-in exchange for which those microbes provide various services to the plant: defense, trace minerals, access to nutrients the roots can’t reach on their own. That liquid carbon has now entered the microbial ecosystem, becoming the bodies of bacteria and fungi that will in turn be eaten by other microbes in the soil food web. Now, what had been atmospheric carbon (a problem) has become soil carbon, a solution-and not just to a single problem, but to a great many problems.”
In fact, it is the soil microbes, or beneficial microorganisms that are of special note in this kind of farming. New Mexico State University scientist Dr. David Johnson has been a pioneer in demonstrating the effectiveness of beneficial microbes in carbon sequestering as well as the microbes’ positive role in other areas. In a study for Sandia Labs, Dr. Johnson’s results were incredible:
“The rates of biomass production we are currently observing in this system have the capability to capture enough CO2 (50 tons of CO2/acre) to offset all anthropogenic CO2 emissions on less than 11 percent of world cropland. Over twice this amount of land is fallow at any time worldwide.”
In other words, Dr. Johnson has shown that we can reverse the greenhouse effective and pull carbon down into the soil with using only 11% of suitable farming land on the planet.
Studies at the Institute of Sustainable Agricultural Research indicate increased soil organic matter in agricultural ecosystems promotes improved plant growth, soil water-holding capacity, increased macro-and micro-nutrient availability, reduced system energy requirements and reduced land preparation and cultivation costs. Dr. Johnson explains:
“Soils with higher carbon content and larger fungal [and microbial] populations enabled us to double the production in the soil with the same amount of water. Once you improve your soils to the point they have a higher carbon content and a better soil microbial structure, then, if you can grow twice the amount of food on half the amount of land, you can reduce the amount of land you farm, and in doing this, you can cut your water usage. Agriculture currently uses about 80 percent of our freshwater resources. Managing soil in this manner, many of the decisions are made for you, as the microbes and the plants have worked together for 5.5 million years and have developed a biological barter system, trading nutrients for energy.”
The GMO Issue
With current “conventional” agriculture practices, including those which use genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a major issue arises. The microbial and fungal communities are killed as soon as the synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides are sprayed onto the soil and crops. This in turn destroy’s the soil’s natural ecosystem, which begins the degration of the soil. While many people argue that GMO’s are safe for people and the planet, a simple understanding of plant and soil biology shows us that the methods used by GMO and conventional farming are destroying our soil and actually contributing greatly to the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
According to Regeneration International:
“Chemical and energy-intensive, GMO, industrial food and farming practices generate 35 % of global greenhouse gas pollution, while deforestation, often agriculture-driven, generates another 20 %.”
With all of the information above, please continue to educate all that you can about these solutions. If you know of anyone who may be interested in this topic, or know any professors, teachers or educators in this field or a related field, please share with them this article and the research included within.
Additionally, buying beneficial microbes, or effective microbes as they are also called, is easy, inexpensive and works extremely well also in your small-scale garden at home. I personally had two trees infected and were dying at home. After I began giving them the microbes, they soon actually came back to life and are now thriving.
Lance Schuttler graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Health Science and practices health coaching through his website Orgonlight Health. You can follow the Orgonlight Health facebook page or visit the website for more information on how to receive health coaching for yourself, a family member or a friend as well as view other inspiring articles.