MARKET REPORT – DEC. 11TH, 2015
40% of Climate Change is directly related to conventional farming! 40%! What an interesting oxymoron
Please read this – it’s not only great information for you and your staff, it is very important for your customers to understand, and something not talked about in the media – and yet another opportunity to promote organics in your store.
As the Climate Change negotiations wind down in Paris we can only hope that there is some tangible progress made towards real caps on carbon emissions. Why is this so very important to you, and food and agriculture you ask? Weather patterns and temperatures have been changing significantly, especially over the past decade.
Weather patterns have always changed, and there have been anomalies that catch people off guard, but those changes have been slow, and allowed farmers to adapt over time, even generationally. But now, the changes are so rapid that there is not enough time for farmers to react. The California Drought is the best example – there have been slow changes in the past in California– 150 years ago the entire Central Valley of California was a desert, not agricultural land, and the climactic changes that allowed it to be farmed (more water) happened slowly, to the point that it became one of the densest and most productive farming areas on the planet. But this drought, only 4 years long, has had huge impacts, and the time to react was far too short, leaving thousands of growers teetering on bankruptcy, and nearly a million acres taken out of production. Farmers just haven’t had enough time to change irrigation methods, cultivation styles or move from high water use crops to ones more manageable with less water. (It takes a gallon of water to produce an almond.) That, in a nutshell, explains how weather changes, happening in quick time, have impacted farming around the world.
Here’s very fast primer on climate change, and I hope you all know the first part. Sun hits the planet surface, gives us heat and light, and then most of the light rays bounce back into space. Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased 25% in the last 30 years. CO2 molecules allow less light rays to bounce back out of the atmosphere, hence trapping more heat and light, exactly the same way a plastic greenhouse does – hence the term “greenhouse effect.” This you know. Methane molecules block between 30 and 80 times more light rays bouncing back out of the atmosphere than CO2 – it’s far more tragic as a ‘greenhouse gas’. Methane comes from natural gas fracking, it is released from melting permafrost in the Arctic, even a sizeable proportion from cows belching as they ruminate. Far worse than CO2 and Methane, methyl bromide, sprayed by the thousands of tons on California crops is, get this, 22,000 times worse than CO2, and nitrogen fertilizers are 800 times worse than CO2 as ‘greenhouse gases.’
40% of Climate Change is directly related to conventional farming! 40%! What an interesting oxymoron – farmers who suffer more than anyone else from climate change are the ones creating 40% of it.
Vandana Shiva is one of the world’s leading advocates of agricultural change – this is what she has to say:
“Industrial agriculture is a fossil fuel-based system which contributes more than 40 per cent of the greenhouse gases leading to climate change. Along with the globalised food system, industrial agriculture is to be blamed for at least 50 percent of the global warming.
Synthetic nitrogen fertilisers are based on fossil fuels and use the same chemical processes used to make explosives and ammunition. Manufacturing one kilogram of nitrogen fertiliser requires the energy equivalent to two litres of diesel. Energy used during fertiliser manufacture was equivalent to 191 billion litres of diesel in 2000 and is projected to rise to 277 billion in 2030. Synthetic fertiliser, used for industrial agriculture, is a major contributor to climate change — it starts destroying the planet long before it reaches a field.
Nature and humans have evolved many effective and sustainable ways to provide nitrogen to soil and plants. For example, pulses and beans are nitrogen-fixing crops. Bacteria named rhizobia, which exists in the nodules of their roots, convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia and then into organic compounds to be used by the plant for growth.
Returning organic matter to the soil builds up soil nitrogen. Organic farming can increase nitrogen content of soil between 44-144 per cent, depending on the crops that are grown. Organic farming not only avoids the emissions that come from industrial agriculture, it transforms carbon in the air through photosynthesis and builds it up in the soil, thus contributing to higher soil fertility, higher food production and nutrition and a sustainable, zero-cost technology for addressing climate change.”
This is lifted from an article published in advance of the Paris Summit – it’s fascinating, a 5 minute read in total, and the link is here.
Finally, government negotiators are recognizing that we are NOT going to meet the goals for stopping climate change at the commonly used tipping point of a 2C degree rise in global temperatures. What they ARE realizing is that organic agriculture doesn’t add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and more importantly, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere and converts it back to carbon in soil – called carbon recapture. So some very good news was released a couple of days ago in an article from Ronnie Cummings, the very, very outspoken president of the Organic Consumers Association in the US
France, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the U.K., Germany and Mexico are among the more than two dozen countries that have so far signed on to what one day will likely be recognized as the most significant climate initiative in history – France’s 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate
“Industrial, degenerative farming practices, which include tilling, deforestation, wetlands destruction and the use of massive amounts of synthetic and toxic fertilizers and pesticides, have stripped 136 billion tons of carbon out of the soil and sent it up into the atmosphere.
Scientists estimate the world’s soils have lost 50 – 70 percent of their carbon stocks and fertility. Modern chemical-intensive, factory-farm, GMO-based industrial agriculture is largely responsible for that loss. Left unchecked, Monsanto and corporate aqribusiness will continue to destroy our soils, pollute our bodies and eventually take the whole planet down with them.
France’s 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate puts regenerative food and farming front and center in the climate solutions conversation. This is why the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM Organics International and more than 50 of our other activist allies across the globe have signed on in support of the Initiative.
To meet that goal, the French Government launched the 4/1000 Initiative which, distilled to simplest terms, says this: If, on a global scale, we increase the soil carbon content of the soil by .04 percent each year for the next 25 years, we can draw down a critical mass of excess carbon from the atmosphere and begin to reverse global warming.
Is the French Initiative realistic? Yes, even by conservative estimates.
Using the French government’s modest estimates, we can transfer 150 billion tons of this carbon back into the soil in the next 25 years.
How do we achieve those numbers? All we have to do is help just 10 percent of the world’s farmers and ranchers adopt regenerative organic agriculture, holistic grazing and land management practices—and by help, we mean direct a portion of the billions of dollars earmarked by governments for climate solution projects to farmers who regenerate, not degenerate, the world’s soils.
That’s a game changer. But only if enough players get in game.
France’s Agriculture Minister, Stéphane Le Foll, said that Initiative partners, which so far include the UN, developed and developing states, international organizations, private foundations, international funds, NGOs, consumer, and farmers’ organizations, have committed to implementing appropriate soil management practices, and to recognizing the importance of soil health for the transition towards productive, highly resilient agriculture.
Will the U.S. (and Canada) become one of those stakeholders? Or will our leaders side with the Monsantos of the world, and continue to promote an agricultural system that directly and indirectly contributes 50 percent (or more) of the greenhouse gas emissions that are burning up the planet? A system that has failed to feed the world, failed to reduce the use of toxic poisons, failed to bring prosperity to the world’s small farmers, failed to produce healthy, nutritious food—a system whose successes can only be counted in terms of gross profits, shareholder value and political clout.
The French Initiative is the most direct, most practical, and only shovel-ready plan for reversing climate change.”
Here is the link to the full article.
Now, how do you take this information and put it to use? Well, from our perspective, your customers need to know that when they are buying organic for any number of personal reasons, they probably aren’t aware that they are also choosing food that reverses climate change – one of the few things they can actually do personally to make a change to their own impact on the environment. And now is a very good time to be talking about that, especially while we are all cringing at current pricing on greens right now (which is, for the most part a direct impact of a changing climate.) That’s what I think.