Source: For Presence Marketing Newsletter, February 2018
Author: Steven Hoffman
We all know what’s happening and no amount of denial or the squelching of science can alter the facts. Climate change is real, and it is either being caused by or exacerbated by the activities of humankind. Through our extraction and consumption of energy, housing and transportation, manufacturing practices, and how we produce our food and fiber, we are releasing massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, where it is heating the land…and the oceans.
We are certainly seeing the results on land, with increasing occurrences of major storms, hurricanes, wildfires, floods and mudslides, and a rash of other extreme weather events that are having its costs in human lives and in billions of dollars.
Now, a team of scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Atmospheric Physics found that the upper 2,000 meters of the world’s oceans were far warmer in 2017 than the previous hottest year ever recorded in 2015. Analyzing ocean data collected over the past 50 years, a clear trend is emerging, say the researchers. All the world’s oceans are getting steadily warmer, with 2017 recorded as the hottest yet. And while the atmospheric temperature is more susceptible to year-to-year fluctuations, the ocean data shows the consistency with which planet Earth is heating up, the researchers claim.
The findings come on the heels of research conducted by the Global Carbon Project, a group of 76 scientists in 15 countries. Their findings, presented to the United Nations in November 2017, showed that greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have also risen to a record high in 2017, and they are still rising.
“The long-term warming trend driven by human activities continued unabated. The high ocean temperatures in recent years have occurred as greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have also risen, reaching record highs in 2017,” said the Chinese researchers in a report published in the upcoming March 2018 edition of Advances in Atmospheric Sciences.
“The ocean heat records are so impressive because they’re absolutely on a steady warming trend,” Robert Anderson, a geochemist at Columbia University, told VICE News. “People who point to pauses in global warming haven’t looked at the warming of the oceans.”
The Soil Solution
To cool the oceans, we must regenerate the earth, and in particular, the way we produce our food and fiber.
In addition to the disturbing ocean warming trends, industrial agriculture practices are contaminating our oceans with synthetic pesticides and nitrogen fertilizer runoff, leading to expanding dead zones. On top of that, unabated carbon emissions in the atmosphere are acidifying earth’s oceans, which threatens coral reefs, as well as the ocean’s phytoplankton populations – microscopic but critically important species that provide two-thirds of the planet’s oxygen, says John Roulac, founder of Nutiva and an outspoken advocate of regenerative agriculture, in a January 2017 EcoWatch commentary titled “Spaceship Earth, Your Main Oxygen Systems Are Collapsing.”
“At the current trajectory, in just a few decades there won't be much left alive in our oceans as the phytoplankton dies—all because of how we grow our food,” said Roulac. “If we don't immediately deal with the number one ‘enviro’ issue of the day, ocean acidification, humanity will not be around in 2100 to observe rising temperatures or oceans lapping over Wall Street and Silicon Valley. The good news is that we can cool both the planet and the seawater, while removing excess carbon from the sea, by regenerative agriculture—a solution literally under our feet!” Roulac added.
According to research from the Rodale Institute and others, the benefit of regenerative agriculture – where the focus is on building healthy, biologically active soils through the use of cover crops, multispecies livestock, crop diversity, and no-till or low-till agriculture, is that it can effectively draw carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back where it belongs: in healthy organic soils.
In fact, says Rodale, which has conducted more than 30 years of ongoing field research, regenerative, organic farming practices and improved forestry, pasture and land management can move agriculture from one of today’s primary sources of global warming and carbon pollution to a potential carbon sink powerful enough to sequester 100 percent of the world’s current annual CO2 emissions.
Yes, you read that correctly: “100 percent of the world’s current annual CO2 emissions.”
"Simply put, recent data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100 percent of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term 'regenerative organic agriculture,'" Rodale’s research team reported. These practices work to maximize carbon fixation while minimizing the loss of that carbon once returned to the soil, reversing the greenhouse effect."
Or, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “Organic practices could counteract the world's yearly carbon dioxide output while producing the same amount of food as conventional farming.”
The natural and organic products industry has always been at the vanguard of sustainable food and agriculture innovation and environmental and social responsibility. Now, we can take our leadership one step further and in a very meaningful way. We have the opportunity to change not just food but business. Today we must not only sustain, we must repair and regenerate to slow and reverse climate change, a very real and existential threat to humanity and all our four-legged, winged, finned and otherwise living relatives. We owe it to the world to take the lead.
Learn More About Regenerative Food and Agriculture
· Regeneration International, an excellent and comprehensive clearinghouse of news, research, resources and information focused on regenerative food and agriculture, www.regenerationinternational.org
· Rodale Institute, the leading on-farm research and education organization, based in Emmaus, PA, www.rodaleinstitute.org
· Regenerative Organic Certified Label, established in 2017 by leading brands including Patagonia, Dr. Bronner’s and others and administered by NSF International, the Regenerative Organic Certified label builds on the standards set by the USDA organic label with an emphasis on soil quality and social fairness, https://rodaleinstitute.org/regenerativeorganic/
· Climate Collaborative, leveraging the power of the natural products industry to reverse climate change, http://www.climatecollaborative.com
· Natural Products Expo West Climate Day, March 7, 2018, join industry leaders for Climate Day 2018 at Natural Products Expo West.
· Soil Not Oil, international agro-ecological and environmental conference, Sept. 9-11, 2018, San Francisco, CA, http://soilnotoilcoalition.org
· Regenerative Earth Summit, the premier gathering of leaders in regenerative food, farming and fashion for climate action, Dec. 4-6, 2018, Boulder, CO, www.regenerativeearthsummit.org
Nearly three-dozen states have passed legislation in recent years allowing research or commercial production of industrial hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin to marijuana. From “CBD” herbal extract products now being sold in a growing number of natural products stores to food, fiber, cosmetics, textiles, paper, animal feed and construction materials, industrial hemp sales totaled $688 million in 2016, led by hemp food, body care and CBD products. Learn about the world of industrial hemp at the 5th Annual NoCo Hemp Expo, April 6-7, 2018, in Loveland, CO. Colorado has become an epicenter of the industry hemp industry, and NoCo5 will draw 5,000 – 7,000 visitors and nearly 150 exhibits, making it literally the world’s largest trade show dedicated to industrial hemp. Disclosure: yours truly is involved in promoting NoCo5, but I will tell you, it is an exciting, emerging market, and it looks to the natural products industrial as a model for its aspirations for success. Learn more at www.nocohempexpo.com.
I am freshly back from EcoFarm, one of the most refreshing gatherings of organic producers held annually at the incredibly scenic Asilomar State Park in Pacific Grove, CA. Drawing more than 1,000 attendees, the focus of the 38th annual EcoFarm conference was on regenerative agriculture and building healthy soils. Take note it is a farmer’s conference, but with a focus on the issues and how to grow organic, it provides a wealth of information among a community well rooted in building healthy soils and supplying America’s fruits, vegetables, meat dairy, grains and other crops. The Monterey Herald gave it a great review. With concerns about the aging of America’s farmers, I can tell you where the young farmers are. They are dedicated to organic and drawn to EcoFarm. Check it out next year, if only to regenerate yourself. Visit www.eco-farm.org.
Photo: Sunset, Pacific Grove, CA; Steven Hoffman