Restoring Earth’s climate requires re-storing the emissions as healthy, carbon-rich soil (and we get better food too).
To avoid the fate of the dinosaurs, we have to:
stop fossil fuel emissions by 2030
actually, remove 500 billion metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere by the year 2100
HEY, CHEER UP! Scientists and climate experts also project that the most practical and scalable natural solution for removing carbon is the soil that surrounds us.
We know about technology to reduce carbon emissions: renewable energy, electric vehicles, solar airplanes, maybe even Elon’s battery walls…
But scientists just confirmed that 1% is enough for soil to save the world from climate change.
Yes, healthy soil could save us! Plants absorb carbon from the sky and turn it into sugars to eat and feed the soil which sustains their growth. (Basically, plants can transform “bad carbon” greenhouse gases in the atmosphere into “good carbon” in the form of soil biology, pulling that carbon back down where it belongs: underground)
The more living things in the soil and the deeper the root systems, the more carbon gets sucked down from the sky. Soil, in its natural state, not only hosts plants, it is also ALIVE. It is made up of microbes and fungi (AKA carbon storing life).
We humans have, tragically, killed most of this life through extractive farming. Driven by a race toward extracting as much profit as possible, as quickly as possible, practices like systematically plowing the soil and spraying it with fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides are now considered “conventional.” Our subsidies for artificially cheap mono-crops like corn, wheat, and soy are the nail in the coffin. According to the UN, global soil has only 60 years left of productivity and continues to release shit-tons of carbon every year.
The good news is we can restore soil’s life which then re-stores the carbon so that we can grow nutritious food in perpetuity, and it happens much faster than scientists used to think. HEALTHY SOIL HOLDS SHIT-TONS OF CARBON!
A mere 2% increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset 100% of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere.
—Prof. Rattan Lal, Ohio State University
IN FACT, Rodale Institute (a leading agriculture think tank) predicts that more than 100% of current annual global carbon emissions could be captured with a switch to widely available and inexpensive regenerative farming practices such as: not turning the soil over through tilling or plowing; replanting with cover crops; composting; and managed grazing. (Yes, cows are part of the solution, if we can change how grazing land is managed).
And Bio-Geo-Chemists are finding that compost can jump-start these processes, which means that we can pull down what we emit each year, plus the carbon emitted over the last 100 years.
There is a movement among farmers and ranchers who want to switch from extractive to renewable practices. But most farmers can’t afford to take the leap…and this is where it gets complicated… Industrially produced food is heavily subsidized and subsidies are tied to specific industrially farmed crops and meat products. In 2018, American farmers lost about $60/acre before subsidies and only made $20 per acre after subsidies. Farmers using regenerative practices don’t qualify for subsidies.
Zero Foodprint is essentially crowd-funding for renewable farming the same way a utilities company crowd-funds $5 per month to “improve the grid.” A few cents from every meal across hundreds of restaurants and other food businesses adds up to the funds needed to “subsidize” the switch to renewable farming practices. Collectively, ZFP members and their customers pay farmers to farm carbon, verified by local regulatory organizations. The more money we raise, the more farmers and ranchers can use their land to tackle the climate crisis AND make better food for us all.