I’ve been going to public lectures on climate change at Harvard, MIT, and other places since at least 1980. Lately I’ve been thinking that I have yet to hear an ecologist talk about the subject. I’ve seen climatologists, atmospheric chemists, atmospheric physicists, glaciologists, rocket scientists (thanks, S Fred Singer), oceanographers, and geologists address the subject. But I can’t recall hearing an ecologist talk about climate change and ecological systems. This becomes even more frustrating to me when I attend a lecture on geoengineering. In the last couple of years, a joint Harvard and MIT group has been meeting to discuss this topic and the enormous intellectual effort devoted to rather simplistic solutions to complex systems problems is astonishing to me, especially since there seems to be such a great reluctance to engage on the systems issues.
Recently, some friends and colleagues have begun trying to remedy the situation, focusing on the global carbon cycle and, in particular, soil carbon. Part of this is through the work of Allan Savory and his practice of Holistic Management in relation to livestock grazing patterns. Another part is through the work of Tom Goreau protecting and, in some cases, restoring coral reefs. Through their efforts, this year’s Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference will have an extensive “Soil Carbon and Climate Track” introducing practicing farmers to ways in which their daily work can sequester carbon from the atmosphere for years, decades, and even centuries, becoming an important tool in diminishing climate change and, just possibly, reversing it.
A few weeks later, the NOFA Massachusetts chapter will host two day-long workshops with Dr. Christine Jones, an Australian soil biologist, on “Practical Options for Food Production Resilience in an Increasingly Variable Climate.” One workshop will be in the Boston area and the other will be in Western Massachusetts.
Lastly and certainly not least, they are organizing a conference at Tufts University at the end of November on “Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming.” Not only will the conference bring together experts from all over the world to talk about ecosystem solutions to confront climate change and global warming but it is also designed to start a global conversation and network to begin practicing these systemic solutions, sharing what works and understanding what doesn’t and why.
This is a development I have long waited for and will participate in as much as I can.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Summer Conference takes place August 8-10, 2014 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA.
pdf alert: http://www.nofasummerconference.org/pdfs/Soil_Carbon_and_Climate%20_Track_2014.pdf
Soil Carbon and Climate Track
2014 NOFA Summer Conference
These workshops provide information on farming practices that return carbon to the soil from the atmosphere, and build humus for the long term.
Carbon Farming: Regenerative Agriculture for the Climate
Saturday, August 9, 8:00-9:30AM
Connor Stedman: Ecological designer, organizer of the internationally acclaimed Carbon Farming Course.
Most efforts to respond to rapid global climate change center on emissions reduction or climate adaptation. This workshop explores a third tool – carbon sequestration in trees and soil. We’ll review the science and discuss agroforestry, holistic rotational grazing, organic no-till, and biochar. We’ll identify promising methods and crops for farmers in the Northeast to trial.
Building Deep Rich Soils in New England
Saturday, August 9, 10:00-11:30AM
Jim Laurie: Biologist studying successful land and ocean restoration efforts.
New England soils are notoriously thin but can be restored with planned grazing. Increasing soil biodiversity improves the water cycle, food quality, farm profitability, wildlife habitat, and climate. We will learn from case studies how to integrate pasture, woodlands and croplands deepening soils to create a New England Savannah.
Grazing for Soil & Carbon
Saturday, August 9, 1:00-2:30PM
Seth Itzkan: Environmental futurist investigating climate mitigation through restorative grazing.
I will report from the Africa Center for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe, where grazing, in accordance with evolutionary patterns, is re-greening highly depleted landscapes: helping to provide sustainable food and water security while invariably sequestering carbon through new soil formation. Case studies and explanations provided.
Monitoring the Carbon Cycle on your Farm
Saturday, August 9, 3:00-4:30PM
Peter Donovan: Founder, Soil Carbon Challenge, monitoring soil changes across North America.
The cycling of carbon via photosynthesis (or lack thereof) affects both climate and soil fertility. Participants will learn how observing these processes locally, with citizen-science and open-data approaches, can enable us to recognize and organize leadership to slow down carbon and water cycling for local and global benefits.
Harvesting your Cover Crop with Ruminants
Sunday, August 10, 8:00-9:30AM
Ridge Shinn: Grass-fed beef pioneer with special knowledge in bovine genetics.
Successfully finishing cattle on a forage-only diet requires understanding how to harvest energy from plants. Cover crops are a way to build soil quickly, and harvesting them with ruminants enhances their functionality. Learn how and why. People with some grazing experience will gain most.
Growing Clean Water: Topsoil & Water Security
Sunday, August 10, 10:00-11:30AM
Abe Collins: Helps producers and communities to achieve new soil outcomes.
Proper agricultural management can yield healthy, covered, aggregated, high organic matter topsoil, cost-effectively meeting society’s need for clean water and flood regulation. I’ll address: land managers’ leadership role, monitoring technologies and open data to accelerate and confirm progress, collaboration between farmers and other community leaders, and payment to farmers for producing clean water.
Nuts for the Northeast OLC,
Sunday, August 10, 1:00-2:30PM
Keith Morris: Grower, builder, and designer, creating ecologically regenerative and economically viable food
Nut trees and shrubs provide nutrient dense foods, other products, habitat, flood resilience, and can be ‘carbon-negative’. I’ll cover the ecology and mythology of nut trees suited to growing in the Northeast. We’ll cover breeding, trailing, and hybridizing for disease resistance, quality timber, oils, and medicinal properties.
Biological Management for Carbon Sequestration
Sunday, August 10, 3:00-4:30PM
Dan Kittredge: Working to build soil. Farmer, father, husband.3
How integrated practices of biological soil management effect carbon sequestration. What is the biological system, how does it work, and what can you do to help it work better, with a focus on building stable soil humus.
September 1 and 2, 2014, NOFA/Mass welcomes Dr. Christine Jones, an Australian soil biologist, researcher (http://www.amazingcarbon.com) and international educator about carbon sequestration in the soil. From Dr. Jones’ essay “Farming for the Future”, “There is much that can be done ‘on the farm’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon and nitrogen, increase soil water-holding capacity and change the climate- rather than being changed by it.” Come to one of these day-long workshops to learn with us and ask Dr. Jones your questions about soil carbon sequestration and how soils we depend on can be a climate change solution.
Details: Mon. Sept.1 10:00am-4:00pm at Newton Community Farm, and Tues. Sept. 2, 10:00am-4:00pm in Amherst. Participants can attend just one or both of these independent workshops. More info and registration: Practical Options for Food Production Resilience in an Increasingly Variable Climate.
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate: Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming First Conference and International Action Week November 2014 (http://bio4climate.org/conference-2014/)
Promoting the power of nature to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere where it does untold damage, and restore it to the soils where it supports abundant life and reverses global warming.
Conference: November 21-23, 2014 Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA (near Boston) Co-sponsored by The Institute of the Environment (TIE) and The Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at the Fletcher School of Tufts University
Note: Speakers in [brackets] are not yet confirmed, and there are still speaker slots to be filled. This is a draft program as of July 1, 2014, and subject to change.
Purpose and Overview of Conference
Adam Sacks, Executive Director, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
A brief introduction to reversing global warming with eco-restoration and the necessary steps along the way.
The Urgency and Basic Science of Soil Carbon
Tom Goreau, Climate and Soil Scientist, Restoration Biologist
An explanation of why is soil carbon so important, the role of plants and soil biota, the power of photosynthesis and living things as a driving force in the climate equation.
How Water Cools the Earth
Walter Jehne, Soil Scientist
A discussion of systemic interactions of biology, water, carbon, heat transfer and the practical applications of basic science in reversing global warming.
How Forests Store Carbon
Mark Leighton, Forest Ecologist
An explanation of how forest restoration and optimization fit into the climate puzzle.
Policy and Paradigms: Is Soil Carbon Sequestration “Real” Science?
William Moomaw, Climate Scientist and Policy Expert
A discussion of the obstacles to progress on addressing climate to date – from the perspective of narrow policy interests and the inability to think beyond failed prevailing preconceptions – and how to address them.
Policy in Action: A Carbon Tax
Gary Rucinski, Citizens Climate Lobby
An examination of political organizing to implement good climate policy.
A Brief Tour of the New Paradigms
Judith Schwartz, Journalist and Author, Cows Save the Planet
A description of the ways in which many land practitioners around the world are addressing ecosystem destruction and climate change – with healing and abundance.
The 40% Example: Healing Grasslands and Capturing Carbon
How applications of Holistic Management and Holistic Planned Grazing applied to billions of acres worldwide can reverse global warming, how it works and what the controversy is about.
How Nature Teaches Us To Purify (water and other things)
Jim Laurie, Restoration Ecologist
An exploration of self-organizing natural systems where other creatures do 99% of the work to heal the earth, and do a far better job than we ever could – including fungi, bacteria, worms, prairie dogs, beavers and buffalo.
Carbon Drawdown: Biochar, Bamboo and the Marketplace
Charlotte O’Brien, Entrepreneur
Serial entrepreneur Charlotte O’Brien merges concerns for a healthy planet and a healthy economic system, and explores the true meaning of “sustainability.”
Restoring the Earth: The Contribution of Commerce
Steve Apfelbaum, Entrepreneur
Stories from decades of experience helping clients worldwide return damaged, degraded lands back to health and productivity.
Regenerative Agriculture in Action
Panel: Dan Kittredge, Dorn Cox, [Ridge Shinn], and others
Presentation by individual speakers and moderated discussion on supplementation with biochar, rock powders, and sea minerals; and managing land for balanced health and productivity and economic stability.
Healthy Soils, Healthy People, Healthy Planet
[Daphne Miller], Physician and Author, Farmacology and The Jungle Effect
The importance of soil health for human health and the connections with restoring a healthy climate.
Reversing Global Warming:The Organizing Challenge of the Ages
How do we get a planetary movement going – observations of a renowned movement organizer.
The Central Role of Indigenous Peoples
Candace Ducheneaux, Lakota Organizer
Stories from a Lakota grandmother of her efforts to unite indigenous nations and the millions of acres of land under their jurisdiction to restore damaged land, invigorate local economies and reverse global warming.
Cracking the Paradigm: Challenging the Message
Antje Danielson, Director, Tufts Institute of the Environment
The importance of messaging and thoughts of how to challenge the dominant paradigm that obscures our understanding of climate.
As stated, this a draft of the speakers list for the conference as of July 1, 2014. Already there have been changes. To get the most current information check the following links:
List of speakers
Cows Save the Planet – notes on a layperson’s guide to a variety of soil carbon solutions
Holistic Management – notes on Allan Savory’s text