CO2 in the ground, where it naturally occurs, is necessary for fertile soil, and results in healthier and more drought-resistant cropland. We can keep CO2 in the ground through a natural process that traps it in a "carbon sink." That process is organic or "carbon farming."
We all remember learning about photosynthesis in school. Plants manufacture much of their food from sunlight, water and CO2, turning those molecules into food. The CO2 is exchanged with the fungi and bacteria in the soil that need it to make richer soil and, in turn, healthier plants. In doing so, the CO2 is captured in the ground. In this natural ecological barter system, carbon is sequestered, helping plants grow while keeping the soil healthy. Industrial farming literally prevents this underground transaction from happening by releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere.
Organic farms, like the famous Rodale Farming System Trial in Pennsylvania, showed that building up soil carbon has other benefits too. It also acts like a water sponge and helps maintain crop yields when conventionally grown crops are dying of thirst during droughts. Unfortunately, extreme droughts may become the new normal as climate change alters our weather patterns, giving us yet another reason to implement organic farming on a large scale. According to the USDA-funded Marin Carbon Project, the overuse use of insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers also release what is normally sequestered carbon — adding to the problems of climate change.
The good news is that if humans get out of the way, CO2 can be tucked back in the soil to do good, instead of being trapped in the atmosphere doing harm. A U.N. report noted using carbon sinks through natural farming methods could reduce the carbon in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels in just 50 years!
And here's a bonus: we can do this right now. We don't need a technological breakthrough to solve the climate crisis. We are already learning this from farming and grazing system trials across the world — from the U.S. to Costa Rica, Thailand, Egypt, and now China.
If enough farmland and grassland are converted back from industrial to natural farming, we can put huge amounts of carbon back where it belongs, maintain yields in times of drought, eat healthier food and reduce healthcare costs.
So while more research is being done, and should be, we already know enough to say, let's begin the transformation today. What you can do is spread the word. Shop at your local farmer's market and buy organic products when you can. The price should come down as more produce is grown organically. This means more people should be able to buy it, creating a virtuous circle of increased supply to meet increased demand. The sooner we have support for carbon sinks and organic farming, the sooner we can start to seriously combat climate change.
Read the whole article here: One Solution to Climate Change and Growing Healthier Food Is Right Under Our Feet.