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The Potential of Carbon Farming by Eric Toensmeier (article in Permaculture magazine, North America)

 
Cassie Langstraat
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I know most of you all probably are aware of the potentials of carbon farming, but I thought I would post this here because it's a damn good read anyways.

A quote from the article:

"Thus, carbon farming is not a “silver bullet” that solves all of our problems, but it is a powerful tool alongside ecosystem restoration and emissions reduction. It represents a permaculture approach in that it is a highly multifunctional practice, providing many benefits to people and planet. The carbon farming toolkit also provides us with models for taking a permaculture-like approach to farm-scale systems, and an impetus to do so on a global scale."



The Potential of Carbon Farming by Eric Toensmeier




This was an article in the first issue of Permaculture Magazine, North America.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Cassie, great article, thank you for posting it.

What we need is more focus on the facts of global warming, the effects that the rapid, massive deforestation in the tropical and temperate rain forests are now being felt, but this doesn't stop the advance of those who seek to profit from the trees that are left.

Since 1950, the U.N. FAO has documented that Latin America has destroyed 37% of their rain forest, Central America has destroyed 66% of their rain forest, Southeast Asia 38% and Central Africa 52% In North America, a similar loss of old growth temperate rain forest has been documented.

If you average out the loss of carbon sequestering rain forest alone there is virtually no way to recover in less than 30 years simply because trees take time to grow large enough to take in enough CO2 to make a difference.

One acre of rain forest can sequester 10% of its volume in carbon per day, One entire rainforest region can sequester 10% of all the CO2 created and released by humans per day.
We loose enough rainforest every day to sequester 100,000 automobiles emissions of CO2.
By the year 2090 there will be at least 16 billion humans on planet earth.
At the current forest destruction rate, by 2110 humans might not be on planet earth because of the increase in temperature along with the rise of ocean levels and large wild animal habitat loss.
All these things together could create the destruction of mankind along with most of the other inhabitants of earth.

People being active in planting "carbon  farms" is a very real necessity but the News Media and even the scientific community do not put enough emphasis on this dire need.
The problem is, the News people don't think it is important enough to always be "News Worthy", while at the same time the scientific community can't come to a consensus of the long term effects and how to counter act the issue.
That lack of "keeping it in front of the people" means that the building of carbon farming is going slower than what would be needed to actually create a reverse in global warming. Especially when you account for the 20 million hectares that will be cleared today and every other day forward.

At that rate, it is impossible to use all the current methods to sequester back into the soil enough carbon that global warming would even slow down the tiniest bit. Indeed the rate of destruction would have to terminate today for us to be able to make a dent in the next 20 years.

Since it seems to be the nature of humans to do what ever it takes to put money into pockets so it can be spent, unless we as a race can curb this greed desire, nothing will change regardless of anything we as a race can do to thwart or stem the quantities of free carbon dioxide rushing to the outer reaches of the earth mothers atmosphere and creating even more global warming.

There is hope, but unless the News Media and all special interest groups start a relentless push to stop the madness of clearing trees for lumber and useless farm lands.
(useless because the soil depletes in two years and so they clear even more rainforest to plant and this idiotic lunacy continues on and on and on, until there will be no rainforest left. When all the rainforest is gone most life now on planet earth will also be gone).
Along with weather patterns that will be totally unpredictable and vary month by month so much that no yearly pattern will be predictable, making it harder and harder to know when to plant for good yields of crops.

While Strip Inter-farming will help (a miniscule amount), it would take a massive, multi-country reforestation effort to actually make enough difference to be noticeable.
I realize this sounds defeatist, however, this is the actual reality we currently face as the human race.
change needs to be rapid, and while it can be done in the "developed" countries, it is a much greater task to get the developing world to jump on the carbon band wagon and reverse their current thought processes.
In developing countries it is the poor that do the most damage as they struggle to survive and desire to have a better life.
It is a vicious, never ending circle of destruction that threatens to destroy everything, and this circle will have to be broken before resurrection can occur.

What we can do is work hard at building our own, tiny speck of new forest, encourage everyone we meet to do the same and spread the word as quickly as possible.
Those with the ability to influence those who report in the Media, must be relentless so the Media talk about what needs to be done and hopefully ways to do what needs to be done.
For it is my observation that once humans understand something must change, and know that they need to make that change so they will live better, they are more than likely to do so.  
 
Tyler Ludens
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Redhawk, I think people are trapped between "global warming will happen some time but it won't affect me" and "oh shit, it's too late to do anything anyway I guess we'll just go extinct."  The sort of immediacy needed by us in our daily lives just isn't there - climate change either isn't a problem or it's such a huge problem people feel helpless.  This joined to "THEY need to do something " THEY being some "leaders" somewhere or somebody else, maybe some farmers or something.  With most people living in cities, the average person doesn't see that they can do much about carbon farming or stopping deforestation, etc.

How to get beyond these concepts "not an immediate threat" "too big a threat to deal with" "somebody somewhere else needs to do something"  ?

 
Scott Strough
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Tyler,
I am in Oklahoma. Here climate change means flood or drought, little else. Our state is probably best known for being dead center of the "dust bowl" of the 1930s. We are also right in the middle of "tornado alley", right behind our neighbor Kansas in frequency and severity of supercell storms and tornados. Safe to say that "Sooners" as we are called are quite accustomed to severe weather events. The question for Oklahoma is how global warming and climate change effects our already extreme weather and maybe just as importantly our groundwater supplies.
The science predicts that climate change trends for us means rain-free periods will lengthen, but individual rainfall events will become more intense.[1] We know Oklahoma is already subject to extremes of weather, but the trends say it is getting worse, not better.[2][3]
According to the National Climate Assessment the last drought that just ended last year was both hotter and drier for Oklahoma than a similar period of the 1930s Dust Bowl. In 2012 we set the all time record for number of days over 100 degrees in a single year.[4] And what about floods? May 2015 set the record in recorded history for the wettest month in Oklahoma. Most of this rainfall occurring as part of supercell storms producing damaging EF5 tornados, hail and flooding.[5] So it seems our already extreme weather is getting even more extreme.
Sounds bad right? Well it might even be worse than it seems. To understand why we need to look at the water cycle and aquifer stocks and flows. Our aquifer basins are in a constant state of flux as inflow from groundwater seepage can fill them and we pump out water for human and agricultural uses. The largest aquifer in Oklahoma, the Ogallala is down 150 feet from historic levels. Some of the shallower aquifers are up a small amount, being somewhat replenished by these heavy rainfall events. However, taking all the aquifers into consideration the net flux overall is down. More is being pumped from the wells than is being replaced by groundwater seepage.
Since both usage (outflow) and climate (inflow) are controlling factors to aquifer levels (stocks), let's look at how climate change is affecting these fluxes, which in turn affects the basin total stocks of water.
So how does climate change to global warming affect the water cycle of Oklahoma? Droughts are pretty straight forward. Less water seepage into the aquifers and more farmers pumping larger amounts out of the ground to irrigate fields. Maybe less known is the effect severe storms has. Even though a lot of water falls as rain, it is less effective than gradual rainfall over a longer period of time. Less soaks into the ground and more runs off and creates floods. Also since this happens in a short time frame, before the water can soak far, the sun is back out causing evaporation.[1]
I believe this increased variability to extremes, hotter drier droughts and more severe storms, is primarily why overall our groundwater stocks are dropping. Less and less water is infiltrating to replenish our already overburdened aquifers. Climate change is already affecting us in Oklahoma in many ways, and trend is only getting worse.
I suspect most the earth has a similar story to tell. The effects of climate change different in each area, but already here, and ever so slowly increasing year by year. I investigated the impacts of my area, so that when I meet a person like that, I would be prepared to explain it in a way that gets their attention? Once I have their attention, I also mention what I personally am doing to mitigate it. (You guessed it, permaculture) They might think it is a good idea and try it too?

1) Dr. Ken Crawford and Gary McManus, STATEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR OKLAHOMA, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, https://www.ok.gov/conservation/documents/climate-statement-ocs.pdf
2) Climate change in Oklahoma, http://www.southernclimate.org/documents/climatechange_oklahoma.pdf
3) JOE WERTZ, Drier, Hotter, More Extreme Weather: How Climate Change is Already Affecting Oklahoma, https://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/2014/05/08/drier-hotter-more-extreme-weather-how-climate-change-is-already-affecting-oklahoma/
4) National Climate Assessment, Great Plains, U.S. Global Change Research Program 2014, http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/report/regions/great-plains
5) Chris Dolce, Nick Wiltgen, Jonathan Erdman, Texas and Oklahoma Set All-Time Record Wet Month; Other May Rain Records Shattered in Arkansas, Nebraska, The Weather Channel Jun 1 2015, https://weather.com/forecast/regional/news/plains-rain-flood-threat-wettest-may-ranking
 
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