Category Archives: Climate change

How climate change will affect food supplies.

Carbon sequestration reduces atmospheric CO2

Huge amounts of carbon dioxide are stored in soil and more could be added. All that is needed is a change in the way soil is managed on farms and in gardens.

What is exciting is that it can be done today without the need for new technology to be developed or massive new machines to be built. It just needs is farmers to change the way they treat soil. Not only could that help to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it in soil it would also reduce fertiliser and pesticide use which means less the chemical leaching into rivers and streams. See this article about extreme levels of pollution in Europe.

There are several new books explaining how we could sequester enough CO2 to make a huge difference to climate change:

“According to Dr. Rattan Lal of Ohio State University, a pioneer in the study of “biosequestration” (using plants and microbes to sequester carbon dioxide), humans have put some 500 gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the birth of agriculture some ten thousand years ago. But most of that CO2 was emitted during the relatively recent advent of modern agriculture. Through plowing the land, which releases tremendous quantities of CO2, deforestation, urbanization, and land-use change we have effectively taken a massive quantity of carbon that used to be stored in the ground and released it into the atmosphere.”
[Tickell, Josh. Kiss the Ground (p. 18). Atria/Enliven Books. Kindle Edition.]

Small scale commercial growers and gardeners can help by not digging or rotovating their soil. For gardeners switching to no-dig beds is the best way to start. In 2010 I started a trial garden on farmland that had not been cultivated for around 30 years. No digging was involved and it worked.

The other parts of the process are the application of organic matter, compost and yet more compost! Next is not leaving the soil bare particularly in winter when heavy rain causes compaction and washes out nutrients.

$4.7M to Study Storing Greenhouse Gases in Soil

Muir Institute Leads UC Project to Find Shovel-Ready Solutions for Carbon Sequestration

Huge amounts of carbon dioxide are stored in soil and more could be added. Yet again the main problem will be extremely powerful business interests, namely the agrochemical companies and massive food producing and processing companies.

What is amazing about all this is that it can be done today without the need for new technology or massive new machines to be built. All that needs to happen is for farmers and growers to change the way they use soil. Not only does this help to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it in soil it reduces the chemical leaching into rivers and streams. See this article about extreme levels of pollution in Europe.

There are several books claiming that we sequester enough CO2 to make a huge difference to climate change:

According to Dr. Rattan Lal of Ohio State University, a pioneer in the study of “biosequestration” (using plants and microbes to sequester carbon dioxide), humans have put some 500 gigatons (billion tons) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the birth of agriculture some ten thousand years ago. But most of that CO2 was emitted during the relatively recent advent of modern agriculture. Through plowing the land, which releases tremendous quantities of CO2, deforestation, urbanization, and land-use change we have effectively taken a massive quantity of carbon that used to be stored in the ground and released it into the atmosphere.

Tickell, Josh. Kiss the Ground (p. 18). Atria/Enliven Books. Kindle Edition.

Also see: “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life”, David R. Montgomery – 21 Sep 2018.

Small scale commercial growers and gardeners can help by changing the way they manage their soil. Switching to no-dig beds is the best way to start. In 2010 I started a trial garden on farmland that had not been cultivated for around 30 years. No digging was involved and it worked.

The other part of the process is the application of organic matter, compost and yet more compost! Next is not leaving the soil bare particularly in winter when heavy rain causes compaction and washes out nutrients.

Compostable plastic hard to compost

An article in “Nature Index” says that biodegradable and compostable plastic is not the panacea that many think. Kevin O’Connor of University College Dublin says “People think that biodegradability gives us a licence to throw away, it doesn’t.”

During recent trials O’Connor says that compostable plastic needed a temperature of around 50C to decompose whereas most domestic composting gets to about 24C.

He went on to say “The slow biodegradation observed in marine and fresh water shows that we should not allow any type of plastic to be released into these ecosystems.”

The only answer is to stop using plastic and not keep searching for a universal alternative that allows us to continue as we do.

Resources
Make hot compost
Composting kitchen waste in a Hotbin
Hotbin in winter
Hotbin web site
(The usual caveat applies, not connection with this company other than being a satisfied user.)

 

 

Organic growing is the only way forward

“Even as the United States government continues to push for the use of more chemically-intensive and corporate-dominated farming methods such as GMOs and monoculture-based crops, the United Nations is once against sounding the alarm about the urgent need to return to (and develop) a more sustainable, natural and organic system.
(The Huffington Post)

That was the key point of a new publication from the UN Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) titled “Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late”,” which included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world.”

It has been a long time coming but now the UN are saying that organic growing is the ONLY way forward. Commercial growing in the UK is dominated and controlled by the agrochemical industry. it is not sustainable and threatens food security. We simply cannot continue to rely on farming methods that are dependent on large chemical inputs.

Soil
The biggest asset we have is soil yet 50+ years on chemical fertilizers has left a depleted soil virtually devoid of organic matter so prone to erosion. See this 2006 report on UK soil erosion.

An alternative food supply
In a time of climate emergency, we need to be aware of the perilous state of our food supply. Supermarkets work on the “just in time” supply principle. They usually have 2-3 days of stock in the local supply chain. We import around 30% of our food from the rest of Europe.  Any disruption to that through weather or politics will see the shelves empty within 24 hours as people panic.

We desperately need to separate ourselves from the supermarket food supply chain and grow food in any available space. It can be done, 25 years of organic growing often in very small spaces has proven that to me. We just need to get on and do it!

 

 

Buy organic food to curb insect collapse

An article in The Guardian says that buying organic food is a way to save the insect population. I am so pleased to see that in print but excuse me, organic growers have known that the many years.  In the past the press has ridiculed the ‘all muck and magic’ brigade and depicted us as happy idiots who do not know the benefit of modern insecticides. Now we are on the brink of a precipice it seems organic growing really does have something to offer.

The first thing to do is ban TV advertising of pesticides and herbicides. Then start a programme to turn the whole country over to organic growing. It will not be easy as the soil on agrochemical farms is in very poor condition, but it can be done.

Is that hoots of laugher I hear in the background? Are farmers and growers shouting we will all starve? Well think on mate, without insects to do the vital pollination of plants we will starve. So, you choose, change the way we grow food to more sustainable, environmentally friendly methods or stick with the conventional chemical soaked stuff that feeds the profits of the agrochemical companies. I know what I would do!

Food security

The one good thing that has come out of the Brexit mess is the talk about food security. It has been ignored for many years. Around 10 years ago I spoke to Prof. Tim Lang about the subject. Nothing much has changed, we rely on a small number of supermarket brands for the majority of our food and if anything the supply chain is more precarious now.

Yet again we have let this happen, we have given the supermarkets the power to control what we eat. Farmers are virtually enslaved by the supply chain and they take all the risks.

The effects of climate change on the food supply are already being felt. It is time for the UK to think about where food comes from and take steps to ensure we have enough. That means not taking prime agricultural land for vanity projects like HS2 and making changes to planning laws to enure that brown field sites are used first.

And we need a new ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign!

This what Prof Tim Land about food security said 10 years ago.