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Pitch

Restore and amplify existing ecological systems to clear the air of greenhouse gases quickly and safely. Geotherapy not geoengineering.


Description

Summary

There are many different ways ecological design can ameliorate and reverse climate change but they have yet to become part of the discussion.  John Todd's Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award winning proposal for restoring the coal ravaged lands of Appalachia is one (more information athttp://bfi.org/ideaindex/projects/2008/challenge-appalachiaandhttp://toddecological.com Allan Savory's ideas about managing grazing animals holistically is restore grasslands and reverse desertification is another (more information athttp://bfi.org/ideaindex/projects/2010/operation-hopeandhttp://www.savoryinstitute.com Thinking in terms of ecological systems which have evolved to Gaian homeostatis over billions of years seems to be a much more sensible way to think about restoring the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels of CO2 than the Silver Bullet remedies and "heroic" efforts most geoengineering propose.


Category of the action

Geoengineering


What actions do you propose?

The response of some Phillippine island communities to the Haiyun Typhoon to restore the mangrove swamps they removed is another.  Mangroves are especially interesting as they absorb 30% more CO2 from the atmosphere than most other trees.  This is one example of the actions that need to happen.

But it's not only planting trees, it's studying and using ecological systems to amplify their already existing mechanisms they use to metabolize CO2 and other greenhouses gases.  It is using the soil carbon cycle and the ocean carbon cycle to remove the excess greenhouse gases human beans have ejected into the atmosphere from the air and the wind.

 


Who will take these actions?

It can start with individuals working on their own land and move to local, state, national, and international groups working systemically with ecological systems to optimize and amplify their already existing methods of cycling, recycling, and sequestering greenhouse gases.


Where will these actions be taken?

Actions are already happening, piece-meal, around the world in a variety of ways.  The replanting of mangrove swamps, the restoration of grasslands using Savory's holistic management of grazing animals, the purification of polluted waters using John Todd's methods of ecological restoration are already examples of geotherapy happening all around the world, here, there and way over yonder.  


What are other key benefits?

1.  Geotherapy is not an industrial process or a single shot solution.  It is a systemic solution that uses natural and existing processes that can be adopted one by one and adjusted or adapted as the situation warrants. 

2.  It amplifies and maximizes natural processes to be more productive.  Geotherapy expands the biosphere and helps make it more efficient in terms of ecosystem services.  It has the definite promise of producing more food, fiber, and a healthier environment than current practices.


What are the proposal’s costs?

Geotherapy has the potential to be profitable rather than costly.  There are investments in time, labor, and materials that have to be made to initiate the process, which will vary with the scale of the projects considered, but the amplification of ecological systems will almost certainly result in more food, fiber, and healthier more resilient ecosystems.


Time line

Results can occur within months or a few years.  Some estimate that activating the soil carbon cycle through a variety of ecological systems designs (holistic management, biochar,...) can ameliorate or even reverse the effects of climate change within a few decades.  

In the longer term, learning to design with nature (thank you, Ian McHarg) will change the way we think about cities, towns, and everything else.  Learning to work with natural systems rather than against them, to dance with nature rather than fight with it can result in a new aesthetic, a new kind of economics, and a new way of human and humane organization.


Related proposals

I have yet to examine the full set of Climate CoLab proposals and have my hands full doing what little I have done here along with my usual activities.


References

My extensive notes on Allan Savory's book Holistic Management:

http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2014/03/holistic-management-new-framework-for.html

My extensive notes on Judith D. Schwartz's book Cows Save the Planet, an examination of the variety of ways currently being studied and implemented to use the soil carbon cycle to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and increase soil fertility:

http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2014/02/cows-save-planet.html