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Laur Hesse Fisher

Jul 24, 2014
09:11

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This proposal has been moved by an Administrator from the "Shifting Behaviors" contest to the "Land Use" contest.

Adam Sacks

Jul 24, 2014
10:52

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Hi Laur - I'm curious about your moving this proposal to a different contest. I put it in "Shifting Behaviors" because it is a media campaign around land use, not a proposal for land use itself (although I can certainly see how it could become a land proposal), and aimed at shifting the behavior of the mainstream climate movement. Some of the language is crafted specifically for the "Shifting Behaviors" category. I'm not necessarily objecting to your switch, just wondering about the fit. BTW, two departments at your alma mater are co-sponsoring our November conference, The Institute of the Environment (Antje Danielson) and the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (Bill Moomaw, recently Emeritus). Cheers! Adam

Climate Rescue

Jul 24, 2014
12:21

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Great proposal, have supported! Another related proposal, that would gather the funds to do this one, 'The economy is a carbon pump; let's switch it to reverse!' https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300404/phaseId/1300601/planId/1309209

Eric Broadbent

Jul 24, 2014
02:18

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I am not a researcher or soils scientist but all of the evidence I have seen regarding soil sequestration of carbon indicates that there is much more promise in these methods than has been acknowledged. The recent releases of methane and other heat-trapping gases from permafrost and from ocean waters is an indication of the capacity of simple organisms to sink certain elements and compounds. To resolve the coming crises, we really do need to investigate all available reduction and capture/mitigation tools that are possible to deploy. Some of these - such as geo-engineering, are much more capital-intensive and dangerous, which is why the simple methods involved in restoring soils represent such a compelling potential solution. There is limited time to act, and the relative speed with which soils can be restored is surprising - so let's get going!

Aryt Alasti

Jul 24, 2014
06:17

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Pertinent to the proposal ultimately having the definitive impacts claimed is that those are based upon the deployment of billions of intensively-managed cattle on a billion hectares of degraded grasslands around the world, with staffers trained by 100 "hubs," each of which is expected to cost $250,000 to $500,000 to establish.

Adam Sacks

Jul 24, 2014
08:41

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Hi Aryt - Thank you for your comment, you raise important points, but first I must note that this is not a proposal primarily for managing grasslands, it is a proposal for changing the climate conversation to include the power of biology to remove carbon from the atmosphere, and to acknowledge that at this late date emissions reductions will not be anywhere near sufficient to address global warming. An outcome of this proposal would be broad-based eco-restoration on a variety of biomes are under consideration - changing the conversation is a necessary first step. As for holistic management of grasslands and the work of the Savory Institute, you are correct that startup costs for a Hub are expected to be in the range of $250-$500k to manage 10 million acres, but those costs cover 3-5 years of expenses, after which time the hubs are expected to be self-sufficient. That $50 million to restore 1 billion acres amounts to spare change in the current annual global costs of drought, hurricanes and climate-driven conflict, with enormous payback in food production, community self-sufficiency, biodiversity, restoration of healthy water cycles and atmospheric carbon drawdown. Ultimately the investment pays for itself many times over. BTW, I don't know where you come up with "billions of intensively-managed cattle," since a billion acres with a billion cattle would be likely rather crowded. More likely is a scenario with multi-species herds and inter-cropping. Finally, in general ranchers who practice managing holistically report that it's a lot less "intensive" work - and far more profitable - than conventional range management. For an idea of what it's like, see Peter Byck's excellent 12-minute film, "Soil Carbon Cowboys," http://vimeo.com/80518559. Best regards, Adam

Aryt Alasti

Jul 27, 2014
08:38

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Hello, Adam - Of course, the concept of biological sequestration is widely accepted by persons concerned with climate-change amelioration, as is evidenced by the REDD+ programs (even if the efficacy of many of those is questionable), and other efforts to reduce deforestation. It is the rancher-revolutionaries' claims that soils' carbon-retention capacity can be enhanced on a global scale, within the relatively short timeframe which will be necessary - sufficiently to be a substitute for emissions reductions - which deservedly meet with scepticism. If it were just a matter of advocating for practices which emulate those of original ecosystems, with benefits to biodiversity, water retention, organic material (including carbon) in soil, human welfare, etc., there would be little controversy, although I and others separately from such considerations oppose the use of animals for food. The demise of most creatures in the wild is typically agonizing; such is the reality in which we exist, but we as sentient creatures have the ability to do otherwise. Permaculture, agroforestry, incorporation of biochar, and other organic farming methods can contribute to improving soils. Given that such use of animals will inevitably continue, it's far preferable if the practices involved are as humane as possible. Whether scaling up of holistic grazing management could be done without significant suffering during transport and killing, and whether markets would be accessible to support such a reorientation of supply sources, are open questions. If these rangelands are supposed to be a substitute for factory farms, and to be substituting for the conversion of tropical forests to grasslands, then the elimination of the latter will be another hurdle to overcome. There would be territorial and regulatory barriers to widespread implementation of the master plan. Suitable rangelands will need to have some substantial water source for the livestock. As is indicates at the end of "Soil Carbon Cowboys," research is still needed on the specifics of how the varying qualities of soils and climatic conditions affect retention of carbon. Rattan Lal's group is doing similar investigation. Factoring in the animals' emissions of methane and carbon dioxide, some specific estimates for realistic scenarios would need to be proffered, if the hoped-for groundswell of support is to occur. Upon looking into the question of numbers of animals per hectare, I realized that indeed my supposition was way off-base. At the African Center for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe, they're grazing 500 head of cattle on 3200 hectares, so that's an allotment of about 6.5 hectares per animal. For temperate parts of the world where the grazing season lasts only six months of the year, I've seen a figure of more like 8 hectares per animal. If we average out between the two, and add some to the figure in consideration of sheep and goats needing less forage, for a billion acres that might amount to 150 million animals, less if there's intercropping. The rhetoric thus far makes it sound as though if only enough ignorant persons were enlightened on this, not only would there be overwhelming support, but we could cease concerning ourselves about emissions reductions. Meanwhile, authorities such as the International Energy Agency are telling us that the necessary reductions are in fact feasible, and alternative energy sources are becoming more competitive by the year. Educational institutions, governments, NGOs, many businesses, and a tremendous number of citizens around the world agree on the severity of the crisis we face. Should we proceed full-bore with a virtually exclusive focus on biosequestration? I don't think so.

Adam Sacks

Jul 27, 2014
09:59

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Hi Aryt - Some clarifications, as you seriously misrepresent our position: 1. We have never - *never* - suggested anything but the most aggressive actions on emissions reductions. The problem is that they haven't worked in 25 years. We hope that this will change immediately, but in addition to hoping, additional action is urgently necessary since we are already at (or beyond) the edge of the precipice. Soil carbon sequestration is such an action, it has potential that we have only begun to explore. No one knows what the potential is for sure, but since our current knowledge is primarily based on studies of degraded landscapes there is good reason to believe that the biology holds more power to recover than we currently understand. Similarly we have never - *never* - suggested a "virtually exclusive focus on biosequestration." What we have said is that soil-carbon sequestration has the potential to remove both ongoing and legacy emissions should it come to that. This is not a recommendation, it is an observation based on the emissions scenario to date. There have been organizations saying that "necessary reductions are in fact feasible" for a long time, and a large landfill's worth of international conferences - so far, not so good. As for sequestration, consider this, from the leading soil scientist whom you cite: "Recarbonizing the pedosphere [the soil layer of the Earth] with a C sink capacity of > 2 billion tons C/yr for 25-50 years can have a strong impact on the global carbon cycle. Increasing the C pool of the pedosphere by 10% over the 21st century (+250 billion tons) can create a drawdown of 110 ppm of atmospheric CO2 abundance. This cost-effective and natural process of mitigating climate change has also numerous co-benefits including improvements in quantity and quality of water resources, increase in biodiversity, restoration of degraded soils and ecosystems, and advancement of global food security." Rattan Lal, Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University Food Policy 36 (2011) S33-S39 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919210001454 2. Lots of research remains to be done on soil carbon sequestration, and there are indeed many barriers to be overcome - political, social, economic, scientific. Same is true for alternative energy and the feasibility of getting off of fossil fuels. If a fraction of the resources directed towards emissions reductions were directed towards eco-restoration, we'd likely be much further along in reducing atmospheric carbon burdens. Your objection here on the basis of the existence of "hurdles" is unreasonable. 3. I'm pretty sure that one of us has said this to you before: Holistic Management has nothing to do with eating animals, it's a planning tool. Holistic Planned Grazing (HPG) is not first and foremost an animal husbandry tool, it's an eco-restoration tool. Allan Savory began his career vehemently opposed to livestock, but as it turns out HPG is also a highly effective means of raising animals for food, and in the most humane manner possible: a full life on the land with the family and herd relationships so important to grazing animals, until their very last day. Finally, this isn't about ignorant persons being enlightened, it's about intelligent persons opening their minds and learning about an unfamiliar approach without prior biases that render unknown perspectives invisible. I've been studying eco-restoration and HPG for several years now - it's a complex subject and there's a lot to learn, I'm still climbing the curve. Holistic Management challenges preconceptions with extensive data and experience. You and other dedicated vegans/vegetarians (of which I was one for over 40 years) aren't raising any new objections - I only wish you'd investigate more deeply without chasing confirmation biases to the exclusion of new knowledge. If you're sincerely interested in learning more, with an open mind, please attend one of our potluck/discussion groups in Cambridge, Massachusetts - sign up here: http://www.meetup.com/Biodiversity-for-a-Livable-Climate. Best, Adam

Aryt Alasti

Jul 27, 2014
06:14

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Hello, again, Adam - Evidently I'm misinterpreting, but when statements are made that biosequestration alone can reduce atmospheric carbon content to below that of preindustrial times, and that emissions-reductions efforts have been and are likely to continue to be ineffectual, it does sound as though characterizations of emissions reductions as "critically important" and "absolutely necessary" are merely lip-service for the purpose of lessening oppositional mindsets. I've done rather a lot of study on the subjects of climate change and biosequestration myself over the past couple of years, so to suggest that I'm just chasing confirmation biases is not appreciated. Your previous statements about meat consumption not being a critical element of plans to have herds of animals around the globe doesn't seem to correspond to the expectation of "hubs" becoming self-sufficient, and certainly I've seen advocacy for increased meat consumption from the Savory camp. Regarding "ignorance," I think it's absurd to suggest that, as the proposal description does: "Primarily based in the physical sciences, climate scientists generally do not yet recognize what life scientists have long known: the power of life has molded almost every aspect of the physical earth, including the climate." This is fairly common knowledge. This issue is that assertions such as the following have not been proven: "Wise human management of the biosphere can undo the eco-mess we have created and regenerate a planet that we can live on. While reducing emissions is critically important, the fact is we have lost far more carbon to the atmosphere from soil disruption since the beginning of agriculture than we have by burning gas, coal and oil. We can take it out of the atmosphere and rapidly and safely put it back into the ground where it belongs. We know now that the most effective approach to reducing atmospheric carbon is to capture it with green plants, which, along with animals, insects, fungi and micro-organisms, bury it deep in soils in carbon-rich molecules which are stable for centuries or longer." Rattan Lal says there's the "technical potential" to sequester phenomenal amount of carbon if soils of the world's agricultural systems were to be enhanced. Note that, as was stated already ten years ago in National Geographic's "Farming Claims Almost Half Earth's Land, New Maps Show," the land then being used to raise livestock amounted to 3.5 billion acres, and area devoted to crops was the equivalent of South America in totality. When I refer to "hurdles," it's because they aren't ever mentioned in statements about what supposedly could be so rapidly accomplished. Of course there are hurdles to any approach, but, they need to be - and usually are - analysed and included in tactical planning. I regret to have to say - as I've indicated to Seth Itzkan - that I'm working day and night, and therefore cannot participate in such as potluck gatherings.

Adam Sacks

Jul 28, 2014
10:45

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Hi Aryt - The current state of emissions reductions efforts over the past 25 years aren't an opinion, they're a simple fact: a 50+ ppm increase since we started trying. Could this change overnight? Sure, but the chances are slim. Do we have to keep trying? Absolutely. But should we put virtually all of our efforts into something that to date has only proven conclusively *not* to work? I don't think so - but that's what we're doing, with a vengeance. Yes, there is advocacy for meat consumption so that the Savory Hubs, mostly in developing countries, may become self-sufficient - while generating food on land unsuitable for agriculture, restoring biodiversity and water cycles, and so forth. That is a decision that is often appropriate to the circumstances. But the ecological process that Savory discovered is based on his research into restoring grasslands desertified by mismanagement, growing livestock for food was furthest from his mind. In other words, ruminants are keystone species, grasslands need them as much as ruminants need grasslands. Because of the devastation to native species from massive hunting and subdivisions of land, livestock must currently serve that purpose. If knowledge of the extent to which biology has created the earth is common in your circles, I'm truly impressed. I've met very few people who understand this, including climate scientists - presumably if more did we would be viewing and treating our life-support systems very differently (nor would we spend a moment contemplating geo-engineering, since nature has it all worked out for us). I would further venture to say that if you were to expand your understanding, you wouldn't simply dismiss as "unproven" the statement "We know now that the most effective approach to reducing atmospheric carbon is to capture it with green plants, which, along with animals, insects, fungi and micro-organisms, bury it deep in soils in carbon-rich molecules which are stable for centuries or longer." A couple of book suggestions: Life As a Geological Force by Peter Westbroek; Emerald Planet by David Beerling. As for hurdles and tactical planning, every ranch and Hub faces hurdles and addresses tactical planning in detail. That's what Holistic Management, the planning process, was specifically designed to address. If you were to read HM reports and literature, available at the Savory Institute, http://www.savoryinstitute.com/, and Holistic Management International, http://holisticmanagement.org/ (especially HMI's archive of its journal, "In Practice," http://issuu.com/hmi-in_practice), you would see these discussions in detail among people whose interest is entirely practical. Finally, we haven't been asking these questions for very long, so there is no neatly wrapped package of "proof." Are you going to wait for some arbitrary standard of "proof" of eco-restoration and soil-carbon sequestration to act? Why don't we apply that same standard to emissions reductions efforts before we go any further - we have no proof that emissions reductions efforts are working or ever will (until we run out of fossil fuels to burn) - yet we steam full-speed ahead in what amounts to faith-based activism. The bottom line is that there is more than enough evidence from many fields to paint a comprehensive picture with so many reasons to move ahead with eco-restoration that it is sheer folly not to. If you are sincerely interested in learning more, with an open mind, please contact me at adam.sacks@bio4climate.org, and be sure to sign up for our November conference (http://bio4climate.org/conference-2014/description/) where some very smart people, in science, land management and activism will be presenting eye-opening material to move us forward. There you can argue and question all you like - and I encourage you to do that, but with biases at least temporarily on hold so that you may become more informed. Regards, Adam

Laur Hesse Fisher

Jul 28, 2014
05:55

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Hi Adam, Thanks for your message. We saw that your proposal was a candidate for the "Land Use" contest as well the "Shifting Behaviors" contest, so we have entered it into both contests. You may access your "Shifting Behaviors" proposal here: https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300210/planId/1309902 Best, Laur Fisher for the Climate CoLab team P.S. thanks for the info about the Tufts conferences! Tufts is a great school and I'm proud to be an alum.

Seth Itzkan

Jul 29, 2014
02:17

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Hi Aryt, Thank you for your engagement. It enriches the dialogue, which is precisely the point of this CoLab proposal - to expand the conversation about the role of biology in mitigation. So, comments are, in fact, part of the objective. We need many more such conversations in climate fora. If this proposal gets chosen, or even moves to the next round, it will further such dialogue. It is a rare case, if ever, that broadening the range of discourse does harm. Our contention is that the singular dominance of emissions reduction in the climate change movement, though an honorable and necessary crusade, is also creating a cognitive barrier to other options, such as biological sequestration, that may, in fact, be able to offer immediate and substantive benefits. Why anyone would be against expanding the dialogue is beyond me, except, of course, as we are increasingly seeing, in the case of animal rights activist who find any use by humans of animals, let alone ecologically restorative use, to be abhorrent. This is a philosophical position that is beyond the scope of science or any approach that could sensible in the face of an imminent climate catastrophe. All approaches must be considered: from cover crops, to biochar, to restorative grazing. Grasslands are the largest ecosystem and one of the greatest carbon stores on the surface of the planet. They co-evolved fundamentally with grazing animals. Their inclusion, along with that of proper (restorative) grazing, must be a component of the emerging mitigation conversation. This is not an ad for ranching or eating meat. It is a biological fact. This planet will not remain habitable for humans much longer unless vastly degraded grasslands are restored to a state similar to their pre-industrial condition. If you, are anyone, knows how to do that without the use of properly managed ruminants or intensive technology, such as irrigation, fertilizers, and artificial cropping, then they are free to come forward and offer their ideas as part of this dialogue. We welcome it, and, in fact, that is the point. Regarding a statement you said earlier about “deployment of billions of intensively-managed cattle,” I think your language represents a mischaracterization. This is a media proposal to expand discussion. Many ideas we are considering have nothing to do with cattle - biochar, for example, being one. Also, regarding cattle, terms like “deployment” further obfuscate. Where the topic in question is Holistic Management, livestock, of any type (including goats, sheep, and even camel), are managed properly. They aren’t “deployed.” Also not sure where “billions of cattle” came from. There are already close to one billion cattle on the planet, almost all of which are being mismanaged - overgrazing in confined areas and then sent to CAFOs where they are “finished” with grain. As Holistic Management would eliminate all of that, and turn the deleterious regimen into one that works to the betterment of grass and soil (as well as the animals), I am perpetually at a loss to understand how anyone wouldn’t want to adopt it immediately. Typically, I find reticence comes from misunderstanding, the rectifying of which is part of this campaign. Regarding the figure of $250,000 to $500,000 to establish a “hub,” I’m not sure where that number comes from, but it’s clearly an estimate. It’s also obviously part of a business plan for one approach. A recent Kickstarter campaign is only asking for $10K to start a hub, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1693627755/launching-a-savory-hub-solutions-to-local-land-deg). So, this startup investment is clearly variable, and there may be other approaches. Carbon Drawdown Solutions, http://cdsbiochar.com/, for example, has a business plan for restoring soils with biochar, and the Rodale Institute, http://rodaleinstitute.org/, has shown for decades that restorative agriculture is viable. The more we discuss these business approaches, the better informed we’ll be about the opportunities. It happens to be that the Savory Institute approach uses animals in its regimen, but that can not be a basis for dismissal. If the approach is restoring soil, which it obviously is, http://planet-tech.com/blog/land-restoration-holistic-management, we must deal with that fact, and not a bias, religious or otherwise, against eating animals. Furthermore, if these hubs are to be in the model of those already established in Africa, http://achmonline.squarespace.com/, and Argentina, http://ovis21.com/en/company/, then rapid replication should be a no-brainer. The Africa center has already restored close to seven thousand acres and has trained villagers in fifteen surrounding communities, many of which are seeing dramatic improvements. The Argentina hub, which, by the way, uses no cattle at all, and is entirely a sheep operation, is producing sustainable high quality wool for large buyers, such as Patagonia, while also restoring land as part of a collaborative reclamation project with The Nature Conservancy. See Sheer Salvation: Patagonia’s Sheep Ranchers are Reviving the Region’s Grasslands. http://magazine.nature.org/features/shear-salvation.xml Regarding the ability of the Holistic Management approach to simultaneously deal with climate mitigation, as well as economic development, Professor William Moomaw of Tufts University, one of the foremost climate policy experts in the world, stated, “It does it all. It meets the livelihood criteria, it meets the adaptation criteria, (and) it meets the mitigation criteria, (so) why shouldn’t we try to do that? We need an integrated sustainable development strategy.” http://fletcher.tufts.edu/CIERP/News/more/Jan25Itzkan The evidence of efficacy is conclusive. In any case, the non-approach is not an option. We must do something to enable viable restoration of grasslands that is in concert with creating year-round food and gainful employment for the people who manage those lands. We can not continue to let the soils deplete as conventional agriculture, as well as conventional grazing, are doing. Again, if you, or anyone, has an alternate approach, with alternate numbers, then they should come forward as part of this dialogue. When you first presented the $250,000 to $500,000 per “hub” figure, I assumed you were advocating in favor of them. If we are talking about the “Savory Hubs,” that investment would establish a training center to help restore 10 million acres of highly depleted land. This works out to between 2.5 and 5 cents per acre. The value potential is outstanding. Do you know of a more cost-effective plan to restore depleted grasslands that keeps them healthy and productive indefinitely while also supporting the nutritional and livelihood needs of millions of people? The carbon capture potential of rangelands that are restored from depletion have been documented by Professor Richard Teague, who showed soil organic matter improvements equivalent to 30 of tons carbon per hectare in West Texas - a dry area - using restorative grazing over several decades. Using that as a basis, the carbon sequestration potential for each 10-million-acre hub over its lifetime is 120 million tons. This is the CO2 equivalent of 445 million tons. On an annual basis, this would sequester 4 million tons carbon / yr or 14.8 million tons CO2 / yr, the equivalent of removing 3 million cars - using the EPA estimate of 4.75 tons CO2/yr/vehicle. (Please note that Teague’s documentation was in West Texas, and that wetter areas could potentially demonstrate even higher values. Ohio State University soil scientist Rattal Lal estimates that many lands have lost between 20 and 50 tons C per hectare, so Teague’s finding is completely in line with that as a potential range of restoration over long periods - several decades - given proper management.) Therefore, in summary, $250,000 to $500,000 per hub, as postulated, enables restoration of 10 million acres, produces healthy food and viable livelihood for millions of people, creates an alternative to the conventional grazing paradigm, and sequesters large quantities of carbon. It is worth implementation at ten times the price. We must proceed with such considerations anyway, regardless of the expense. Either we are planning for the proper management of land, animals, and people, or we are accepting the fate of global warming impacts for centuries to millennia. According the IPCC 2013 Summary for Policy Makers, “A large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period.” Let’s start to concentrate on the latter part of that sentence. Thank you again for the excellent inquiries and dedication to this discourse. References: CO2 Calculations http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/refs.html IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf Teague 2011 - Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880911000934

Jonathan Nicholson

Jul 31, 2014
07:11

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I've offered my services to another person who is collecting photography (https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/plans/-/plans/contestId/1300103/phaseId/1300102/planId/405). I will be more than happy to provide UK examples. I know that the Dark Peak area of the Peat composition nature. I noticed in Delemere Forest there's lots of peat too.

Aryt Alasti

Jul 31, 2014
07:31

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Hello, Adam and Seth - Note that while the Africa center in Zimbabwe has been working its wonders, the rest of the country has been deforested by tobacco farmers. http://www.herald.co.zw/tobacco-boom-vs-deforestation/ What has caused the failure of negotiations over emissions reductions is a failure of political will, and that derives from an insufficient comprehension amongst the citizens of the world as to how dire is the crisis we face. We are approaching one of the last opportunities to finally change that legacy of failure, which has included efforts to slow deforestation as regards worldwide lack of results. Certainly I agree that all approaches should be considered. My concern is that to prematurely encourage a mindset of belief that emissions reductions will never occur as necessary is going to siphon essential energies from the effort to prove that wrong. The hurdles and need for tactics to overcome those that I cited are, as with any transformative proposal global in scope, considerations one needs to see incorporated up front, if imminent change is hoped for. Thus, the cost figures (which, for "hubs," I obtained from a previous Climate CoLabs proposal), regulatory, land-use, political and economic barriers to success all need to be discussed, as I think has rather comprehensively been done with emissions-reductions planning. The worldwide cattle population as of 2012 was already actually close to 1½ billion. Although I acknowledged my error in my original estimate of with how many animals is the Savory Institute expecting to have impact, it's still a huge undertaking. Although nature "has it all worked out for us" in terms of biosequestration being miraculously powerful, what's unproven is that humans can enhance that in a meaningful way within the short timeframe available to us. If we're talking about the "millennia" of impacts in the IPCC report's statement, then more options present themselves. I'm not going to argue about which scientists understand what, but any of them who have made a serious study of climate change will be well aware of nature's capacities. For anyone who doubts that science has shown animals capable of suffering, and that throughout the history of agriculture, humans have caused much suffering, I would say more open-minded investigation on that subject is surely warranted. Where we can minimize or eliminate that, we should. The video "Earthlings" may broaden some people's thinking on this subject.

Adam Sacks

Aug 1, 2014
08:15

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"to prematurely encourage a mindset of belief that emissions reductions will never occur" Aryt, what on earth are you talking about? Why do you insist on mischaracterizing what we're saying? What we said was that emissions reductions have failed to date - a simple statement of fact, reflected in numbers from Mauna Loa and elsewhere. And given the urgency of climate, we *must* do something else. We never suggested not doing emissions reductions. I further disagree with your analysis of "political will" and "insufficient comprehension" by the public as being as fundamental obstacles - those are that the world is utterly and disastrously dependent on fossil fuels. That's not going to turn around on a dime, and not without serious mis-steps along the way (e.g., "sustainable" corn ethanol). Yes, there are serious obstacles, there always are. But to object to what we're proposing on the grounds that it's "unproven," coming from a camp that has to date only proved that its efforts *don't* work, strike me as odd, to say the least. Yes, keep trying to reduce emissions, we're all for that, but it's high time to stop putting all of our eggs into one basket, a basket full of holes at that. Again I assert, from substantial experience, that climate scientists are not generally "well aware" of nature's *regenerative* capacities, although they understand full well its capacities for floods, drought and hurricanes, etc. They understand the impacts of climate on biology, but grossly underestimate the impacts of biology on climate. If you want to learn more about all of this, please sign up for our conference at Tufts in November, http://bio4climate.org/conference-2014. Finally, we are not advocating for practices that cause animal suffering and are agnostic about the use of animals for food, so please do not use this proposal as a platform for your own agenda. We disagree about far more than there is room to discuss here. You are always welcome to submit a proposal of your own. However, if you want to continue this conversation and clarify matters, Seth or I will be happy to sit down with you over lunch (contact me at adam.sacks@bio4climate.org). Otherwise, I would prefer not to write a book here. I only continue to respond because this is a public forum, you insist on misrepresenting what we're about and I feel obligated to clarify. Please, enough already. Thanks, Adam

Aryt Alasti

Aug 2, 2014
06:51

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Adam, I dispute, very much so, whether I'm misrepresenting anything of the demonstrated Savory-affiliated agenda. I continue to respond because, as I stated above, I believe its rhetoric and efforts to redirect collective activist energies are likely to be harmful to accomplishing the transformative changes we need. Rather than in fact being solely an effort to additionally enlighten those activists about  the important role that biosequestration must have in ameliorating the impacts of climate change, there's chronically disparaging, potentially discouraging language such as "basket full of holes" used with regard to emissions reductions, which I believe is disservice to the future prospects of the years of determined efforts dedicated by many to negotiation, education and research, and to activism. Additionally, the claims made for potentiality of biosequestration alone are grandiose - when suggesting that atmospheric carbon burdens can be reduced to long-ago levels whether or not emissions reductions occur - and are not supported in that by an evaluation of practical possibilities "grounded" in the current state of scientific knowledge, along with political, sociological and economic realities. Note that, if a billion hectares of holistically managed grazing lands could sequester carbon the equivalent of 300,000,000 cars, as Seth asserts, that would be extraordinary, but there are already well over a billion cars on the planet. If the International Energy Agency puts forth, as it has, a detailed analysis of by what means necessary emissions reductions can take place, and they characterize the primary obstacle to accomplishing those measures to be lack of political will, that to me is compelling. Knowledgeable spokespersons from the IPCC and other agencies have put out similar information and opinion. http://www.iea.org/newsroomandevents/pressreleases/2013/june/name-38773-en.html Here are some mainstream agencies and organizations which have been focusing on the study of biosequestration and role of living things in the carbon cycle for many years. http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/biological-sequestration-helping-balance-the-carbon-cycle/ http://genomicscience.energy.gov/carboncycle/ http://climatechangescience.ornl.gov/content/carbon-sequestration-terrestrial-ecosystems-csite http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/research/themes/carbon/ http://csite.ornl.gov/ http://www.nacarbon.org/nacp/about.html http://nacarbon.org/carbona/carbona_science_plan.htm http://www.climatechange.gov.au/reducing-carbon/carbon-farming-initiative http://gfoi.org/ http://www.geo-fct.org/ http://www.terrestrialcarbon.org/Terrestrial_Carbon_Group__soil_%26_vegetation_in_climate_solution/Policy_Paper.html Several of these programs were begun as early as 1999. The USGS Land Carbon Project is implementing a 2007 directive from Congress. The President's Climate Action Plan cites the importance of biosequestration. As the following paper mentions, the Kyoto protocol included reference to the subject, and research initially began in the 1970s. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/263775365_The_Chronological_Advancement_of_Soil_Organic_Carbon_Sequestration_Research_A_Review It's not difficult to find estimates of absorption capacities for forests, oceans or soil. Climate scientists who are oblivious of all of the above it would seem haven't been paying much attention. Here are some articles giving indication of how much remains unknown about the role of soils. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108102441.htm As to you being "agnostic" about the use of animals for food, I don't know what that means when all the holistic management demonstration projects other than the Patagonian sheep enterprises have been about raising cattle for beef. Where is an economic model which would support managed grazing of over a hundred million animals on a billion hectares, without that being for meat production? Even dairy cows are slaughtered ultimately, and their young are taken from them to maintain milk production. There is no way, especially in less developed countries, that raising animals on that scale for meat will not result in cruelties which none of us would ever wish on an animal with which we were personally associated. Even in this country, there are many lapses in what are supposed to be humane practices. Anyone interested in giving additional serious contemplation to all that could also look at "If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls," by veganoutreach, "Exposed, the long, cruel road to the slaughterhouse," in The Independent, and "Long distance transport of live farm animals," from the FAO. Far better, in my opinion, to reforest the enormous tracts of land where trees were cut to create pastureland or for other purposes, to convert pastureland to productive cropland wherever possible, and to work toward soil-enhancing practices on the South-America  equivalent of land now dedicated to crops.

Adam Sacks

Aug 3, 2014
12:33

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Proposal
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Absolutely, restore forests to forests, wetlands to wetlands, grasslands to grasslands. No argument. As for agnosticism on carnivory, this is *not* a proposal for Holistic Management, it's a PROPOSAL ON CHANGING THE MAINSTREAM CLIMATE CONVERSATION to include any and all carbon-sequestering eco-restoration, appropriate to the land in question. Pick your favorite. As for my disparaging emissions reductions efforts, I don't know what to tell you - we started on emissions reductions in 1988 at ~350 ppm and here we are 25 years later at ~400 ppm, what part of this failure isn't clear to you? Absolutely, let's reduce emissions AND we'd jolly well better do something else to remove carbon from the atmosphere. As for animal cruelty, I am also opposed to it, so we should only eat animals which have had good lives in appropriate habitats (which HM generally provides). I can't imagine any worse animal cruelty than death by climate-induced starvation - all the more reason for you to support soil sequestration. Finally, peppering your response with links proves nothing, links are a dime a dozen. If you want to make a specific point and support it with a reference, then it may be useful as actual research and a basis for discussion. HOWEVER, to reiterate: this is a proposal for changing the mainstream climate conversation to include biology as a powerful force for carbon sequestration. If you have any points to make, make them about that. We are NOT addressing the specifics of animal husbandry, relative merits of forests vs. grasslands vs. wetlands, certainly not vegetarianism, or most of the other matters you've raised. I've been complicit in these tangents, and I apologize. Please stick to the point of this proposal and post other discussions somewhere else. Thanks.

Aryt Alasti

Aug 3, 2014
02:51

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The links do make a point, specifically related to the premise of your proposal. Make of them what you will.

Climate Colab

Aug 6, 2014
12:31

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Missing details on implementation. There is mention of both a “social change campaign” and “eco-restoration on the ground” but my understanding is that this proposal only covers the social change components. This should be clarified, and actions directly covered by this proposal should be elaborated in more detail. The proposed actions should be specified (apparently a video, and media campaign, and a conference?) and cost estimates should be provided.
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