The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Special Report on Climate Change and Land on August 8. While the report is academic in tone, the warnings coming out of it could not be clearer. Our current agricultural and forestry practices, and the resulting climate emissions, are already having devastating impacts on the planet:
- The climate crisis is already driving heat waves, floods, and droughts that are undermining agricultural yields. We’ve seen the horrible flooding in the US, particularly in the Midwest this year, and developing countries are being hit even harder and have less resources to cope.
- Agriculture and deforestation drives about 23 percent of human induced greenhouse gas emissions, including about 44 percent of methane emissions. And, methane has over 80 times the heat trapping potential of carbon dioxide.
- As the world’s population grows, if we continue business as usual with agriculture, we will go well past 2 degrees centigrade of global warming, which will, in turn reduce our capacity to grow food for our rapidly growing population.
We are in a negative feedback loop--our agriculture and forestry practices are huge contributors to the climate crisis, and the climate crisis is making it less possible to grow enough food for our increasing populations.
Soil SuperHeroes Are the Future of Farming
The IPCC report also makes clear that if we change agriculture and forestry practices dramatically and quickly we can sequester massive amounts of carbon in our soils and forests. The report finds that one of the largest impacts we can make in mitigating climate emissions is to increase soil organic carbon content. And, the report makes clear that we need to act fast, because the higher global temperatures climb, the less carbon soil is able to sequester.
Green America’s food programs have increasing soil health and its ability to absorb carbon as their number one goal. We are working directly with farmers and companies, large and small, that are dedicating themselves to regenerative agriculture, using practices like cover cropping, no-till, and composting to nourish the soils. These practices will preserve soil health for future generations and sequester carbon, helping to address the climate crisis.
We call these leaders in soil health Soil SuperHeroes, and we are promoting their stories to help people understand that regenerative agriculture is entirely possible. These farmers are not only producing foods that nourish the soils, they are also creating foods with higher nutritional content, and they are making a good living. Soil SuperHeroes are showing the way forward for all farming, in the US and around the world.
What You Can Do
As Green Americans, we can all be part of the solution. As individuals, our choices have impacts on companies and farmers, our voices impact politicians, and our practices at home can make a difference as well. Following are actions you can take today:
- Share the stories of Soil SuperHeroes on social media. According to research done by Carl Jorgensen (Free From Forum Market Monitor, 2019), a majority of consumers (73%) know soils have been depleted, but only a mere 14% of consumers have heard about regenerative agriculture. Perhaps more alarmingly, only about 50% of consumers understand the relationship between farming and climate change. We need to make sure that more and more Americans are understanding that shifting to regenerative agriculture is a top priority that it is entirely possible, and sharing the stories of farmers who are successfully engaging in regenerative practices is a big part of that education.
- Nominate a Soil Superhero. There are hundreds of farmers and companies that are getting on board with regenerative agriculture around the world. We want to tell their stories. If you know of a farmer or company that is working to save our soils let us know!
- Start a Climate Victory Garden. You can be a Soil SuperHero in your community. Join the 1800 Climate Victory Gardeners and growing, who are practicing regenerative agriculture in their yards or community gardens. Climate Victory Gardens are helping people nationwide better understand the role of soil health while producing healthy produce for their families or communities. They are also promoting their gardens on social media to help more Americans understand the power of healthy soils and foods!
- Reduce food waste. The IPCC report makes clear that food waste is a major driver of climate change. Work to reduce your own waste, and encourage local schools, houses of worship and companies to reduce their food waste as well.
- Use your voice with politicians. More and more elected officials are understanding the urgent need to address climate change, and a growing number are also understanding the role that agriculture plays. Congressional recesses, when your members of Congress are home talking to constituents, is an excellent time to raise the importance of moving the US to regenerative agriculture and the benefits it can have. You can also call our write your elected officials to urge them to act.