A regenerative hour in the company of Shane Ward from Action Ecology – about the power of regenerating landscapes, sustainable food systems and how climate action requires us to stop thinking in silos, get in people’s faces and value the soil, and its ability to not only support ecosystems but also draw down carbon from the atmosphere.
“One of the main drivers of our climate and biodiversity crisis is land use, specifically agriculture. It is a key area people need to understand – this is really important for everybody,” explains Shane.
TEDtalk: A climate change solution that’s right under our feet
There’s two times more carbon in the earth’s soil than in all of its vegetation and the atmosphere — combined. Biogeochemist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe dives into the science of soil and shares how we could use its awesome carbon-trapping power to offset climate change. “[Soil] represents the difference between life and lifelessness in the earth system, and it can also help us combat climate change — if we can only stop treating it like dirt,” she says.
British ecologists declare climate emergency and biodiversity crisis
The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) is the professional body for ecologists and environmental managers working to manage and enhance the natural environment in the UK and Ireland. The body’s declaration calls for action from its members, governments and society on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through nature-based solutions.
→ Read more on www.cieem.net
In addition to the declaration, CIEEM have published a briefing paper which summarises the current evidence and actions: ‘Climate Emergency and Biodiversity Crisis: The Facts and Figures’
. . .
Nature is collapsing – what must we do?
“We may well be approaching a tipping point, a phase shift into a state of accelerated decline (a biodiversity death spiral) resulting from human impacts, as reflected by the increasing frequency and severity of catastrophic events. Without a global emergency response, this is likely to accelerate as the causal factors continue unabated and our priorities remain incompatible with the natural world.”
Professor Brett Bryan and other world-class experts from Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology are calling on us all – from governments to individuals – to take more action to save nature before it’s too late.
“We must urgently stop the extinction of species and prevent further ecosystem collapse.
A comprehensive approach is needed, from addressing the key drivers through high-level policy and governance (e.g. decent climate, energy, and land-use policy; eliminate corruption), right down to the role of local communities in promoting robust pathways to sustainable futures.
Individuals, especially in the developed world, can do their bit in driving change by reducing their footprint.
This can include lifestyle changes, which, when scaled up, can make a large overall difference (e.g. having fewer children, eating less beef, buying less stuff, reducing waste and recycling, reducing car and air travel, installing rooftop solar panels, making wise consumer choices, and pressuring governments at all levels to do more).
Science communication is also critically important, as well-told stories about the plight of the natural world and our role in it are essential in helping change the weight of public opinion, which can in turn motivate action by government and business. And society.
Overwhelming evidence of the escalating threat of climate change has motivated activism such as Climate Strike and the Extinction Rebellion.
These global mass movements provide platforms for people around the world to express their desperation at government inaction, and the catastrophic loss of biodiversity and its acceleration under climate change. Evidence-based, on-ground actions, backed up by careful measurement and monitoring across key indicators, are also critically important for making change on the ground.
Turning the perilous trajectory of nature around will require robust actions at all levels to have the best chance of effecting positive change now and into the future.
Initiatives like Half-Earth and the Global Deal for Nature are important examples of tangible, science-led strategies for advancing towards these goals. These movements are essential, but not sufficient.
Our concern is not just for threatened species, but all of nature. We may well be approaching a tipping point, a phase shift into a state of accelerated decline (a biodiversity death spiral) resulting from human impacts, as reflected by the increasing frequency and severity of catastrophic events.
Without a global emergency response, this is likely to accelerate as the causal factors continue unabated and our priorities remain incompatible with the natural world.
There is no question that we will need to throw every ounce of human ingenuity, investment, innovation, and effort at its solution, starting immediately.
We are already very late.”
Brett Bryan, Professor of Global Change, Environment and Society
Euan Ritchie, Associate Professor in Wildlife Ecology
Tim Doherty, Research Fellow
Don Driscoll, Professor of Ecology
Michalis Hadjikakou, Research Fellow
Enayat Moallemi, Research Fellow
Peter Macreadie, Associate Professor of Environmental Science
Inspirational articles and videos
First Australian farmer to earn carbon credits
“The future of farming in volatile and challenging times. From climate change to grassroots and high tech-solutions, this Landline special looks at strategies for feeding the world.”
His soils have gone from holding 3 per cent of carbon to more than 10 per cent. This high carbon content also helps retain valuable water in the soil.
“We have converted that 50 to 60 millimetres of topsoil into 200 millimetres of topsoil in the last five years, which has greatly increased the ability to push out some pasture on top,” Mr Olsen said.
“For every tonne of carbon, it can hold 30 tonne of water, so if you are storing that in your soil profile, you’re a long way in front,” Mr Olsen said.
The quest for carbon credits
In March 2019, Mr Olsen made history as the first Australian farmer to earn carbon credits through the federal government’s Emissions Reduction Fund.
“It’s probably around $15,000 for 100 hectares for the year, but there’s talk it could go to four times that.
“The Soilkee Renovator combines cultivation, mulching, aeration and mixed species seeding to improve grazing systems and build soil carbon in one pass.”
→ ABC News – 8 September 2019:
How to make more dirt down on the farm and get paid for it
“Farmer Niels Olsen designed a new machine to rejuvenate his soil.”
“Niels’ Soilkee farm has been the first anywhere to be issued “carbon credits” for “a soil carbon project under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) and the Paris Agreement”. ”
→ PeterGardner.info – October 2019:
A Gippsland World First in Soil Carbon
“Humanity has yet to discover 98 percent of what’s under our feet.”
→ Grist – 30 April 2019:
The Next Regeneration
“New York wants to fight climate change through good farming. Here’s the dirt.”
→ The Conversation – 11 September 2019:
Climate explained: regenerative farming can help grow food with less impact
“Returning nutrients, including animal feces, to the land is important to maintain the soil’s capacity to sequester carbon.”
→ The Conversation – 4 April 2017:
Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world
“Innovative farmers showed me that regenerative farming practices can restore the world’s agricultural soils. In both the developed and developing worlds, these farmers rapidly rebuilt the fertility of their degraded soil, which then allowed them to maintain high yields using far less fertilizer and fewer pesticides.”
→ Facebook group:
Growing a revolution – bringing our soil back to life
“Nurturing healthy soil will be essential”
“Kindness to neighbors and respect for the land—nurturing healthy soil, wisely managing water, caring for pollinators—will be essential in a crisis and in whatever society survives it”
“The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.”
“Psychologically, this denial makes sense. Despite the outrageous fact that I’ll soon be dead forever, I live in the present, not the future. Given a choice between an alarming abstraction (death) and the reassuring evidence of my senses (breakfast!), my mind prefers to focus on the latter. The planet, too, is still marvelously intact, still basically normal—seasons changing, another election year coming, new comedies on Netflix—and its impending collapse is even harder to wrap my mind around than death.
Other kinds of apocalypse, whether religious or thermonuclear or asteroidal, at least have the binary neatness of dying: one moment the world is there, the next moment it’s gone forever. Climate apocalypse, by contrast, is messy. It will take the form of increasingly severe crises compounding chaotically until civilization begins to fray. Things will get very bad, but maybe not too soon, and maybe not for everyone. Maybe not for me.”
“There may come a time, sooner than any of us likes to think, when the systems of industrial agriculture and global trade break down and homeless people outnumber people with homes. At that point, traditional local farming and strong communities will no longer just be liberal buzzwords. Kindness to neighbors and respect for the land—nurturing healthy soil, wisely managing water, caring for pollinators—will be essential in a crisis and in whatever society survives it.”
~ Jonathan Franzen
→ The New Yorker – 8 September 2019:
What If We Stopped Pretending?
“The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.”
Sharing solutions that make the climate safer and our cities more liveable
“The most important word in today’s world is ‘together’.”
~ Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary-General
→ See more Regenerative Hours