How Fixing Agriculture can Fix Climate Change
Published on: 06.05.2022
For many decades the debate on climate change focused on CO2 emissions while overlooking a more important factor. Read on for a simple explanation of the global warming causes and solutions
The planet is losing its cool. How? The weather is getting angrier. Heatwaves, hurricanes, ice storms, droughts, and floods, are becoming common phenomena even in areas where they never happened before while land aridification poses a serious threat to social stability and peace.
Who’s to be blamed? Climate change. Other than that? …us humans and our poor management of natural resources, especially land. All our activity contributed to the increase of heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in the Earth’s atmosphere.
How to fix it? By rebuilding healthy soil.
What does soil have to do with climate change?
According to microbiologists and climate scientist Walter Jehne, this is how the story goes. (Look further below for his must-watch lecture)
For almost five decades, a misunderstanding prevailed among climate scientists. They assumed that the CO2 emissions were the main factor driving the increased greenhouse effect, and consequently global warming. While doing their research and scenarios they somehow neglected a highly important and obvious factor in all the dynamics of the planet. Water, more specifically water vapor. It is the most abundant greenhouse gas (GHGs). Water Vapor is responsible for about two-thirds of total global warming. On the other hand, CO2 accounts for one-quarter of the total warming. The remainder consists of methane and other gases.
Besides being essential for the existence of flora and fauna on Earth, water plays a huge role when it comes to cooling down the planet. A normal hydrological cycle, or the water recycling system of the Earth does that. At least, has done it for millions of years. However, the water cycle cannot happen if one key element is missing. And that’s healthy soil.
In areas without healthy soil, rainwater goes to waste, because the land cannot retain it. Thus that water flows into waterways and rivers and makes its way into the ocean. Those water streams also carry considerable amounts of sediment that affect negatively aquatic life, but that’s another story.
The known fact is that the world is losing its soil. Soil is the most important component of a normal hydrological cycle. Reduced water cycle means reduced ability of the planet to stay cool and increased aridification of land. The latter leads to the inability to make food from farmed land. The result of all the above is a social crisis and social collapse.
Why is soil being degraded and lost?
CO2 emissions date back to the 18th century. That coincides with the increased rate of forest loss.
“From 1700 to 1850, 19 million hectares were being cleared every decade. That’s around half the size of Germany,” says ourworldindata.org.
Deforestation was fueled by the need of humans for urban areas, food, and energy from wood, and of course for-profit, and it’s still going on at concerning rates. Forests hold huge amounts of soil organic carbon. It is estimated that there’s three-time more carbon in the soil than in the atmosphere. However, it gets released into the atmosphere mainly as CO2, as it becomes vulnerable due to the sun and other factors exposure. Besides deforestation, poor farming, poor land management, and hydraulic fracking increase the release of CO2 emissions.
The way of nature keeps the planet cool is through healthy soil.
The way of man, to keep the soil healthy, is through innovative and sustainable agriculture. This means allowing forests to grow back while focusing on new innovative ways of providing food.
So far, intensive farming, tillage, overgrazing, intensive cultivation, deforestation, and forest fires for farming land are among the unsustainable farming practices that have contributed to soil degradation.
Can agriculture make you rich? This is a common question people ask online. Some even wonder if agriculture can turn them into billionaires. Meanwhile, some ask: can agriculture be sustainable? Yes, of course, it can. Solutions vary from traditional practices to high-tech innovations. Common practices include the elimination of tillage, integrated pest management, agroforestry practices, perennial crops instead of annual crops, etc.
More innovative solutions include urban farming, vertical farming, aquaponics/hydroponics, lab-grown meat, vertical gardens, predictive analytics, precision farming, etc.
Agriculture can make you rich especially if it’s based on sustainable solutions that help reverse environmental damage and meet the demand for healthy and safe food. If you see the need for such a solution in your community, we invite you to take our free online entrepreneurship course and get the skills and needed mindset to become a sustainable entrepreneur. There will always be a need for food, but now there is a need for sustainable solutions. Do you have an idea or are you running a project that contributes to sustainable development? Submit it to the 2022 Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition
Now, as promised, here’s the lecture by Walter Jehen. He makes one of the best explanations of global warming and how to solve it while highlighting the need to rebuild healthy soils. He also explains why we should not blame the cows for increased methane emissions.