Adam D. Sacks, Executive Director
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
December 7, 2016
Based on widely accepted scientific measurements, global emissions reduction efforts, while essential, have not succeeded in reducing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
The annual rate of carbon released into the atmosphere is accelerating (for many reasons which need not be discussed here). Reducing emissions and building out alternative energy are necessary but insufficient to address global warming and, based strictly and objectively on atmospheric carbon numbers, have yet to show significant signs of success.
While we have gone through many phases of optimism – and a dramatic change is always possible – there is little evidence that such necessary atmospheric carbon reductions will take place in a suitable time frame. Indeed, the unprecedented rate of growth of atmospheric carbon to over 3 ppm during 2016 despite major advances in development and deployment of alternative energy is testament to an incomplete and not-yet-effective strategy. (See http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/gr.html.)
The only practical, inexpensive and readily available “technology” for the massive carbon drawdown necessary is photosynthesis and associated biodiverse processes. Such essential eco-restoration brings many advantages, including low cost, high food productivity, mitigating and often ending floods and drought, local economic self-sufficiency, and eliminating conflicts over scarcity. Land managers across the world have decades of eco-restoration experience on millions of acres. Evolving management approaches are highly effective and well-known outside of the conventional management practices that created the problem in the first place.
It is therefore time to reassess our climate strategies and proceed accordingly. Continue reading
By Adam D. Sacks
Executive Director, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Climate urgency is very clear.
There is an established belief in science that there are roughly 20-to-30-year time lags between a year of emissions and the perceptible appearance of their effects. Therefore we are currently seeing the consequences of carbon concentrations 40 to 60 ppm less than at present. Furthermore, the signature of positive feedback loops is acceleration – it is apparent that in the last 2 or so years we are witnessing that acceleration in spades, as heat records are broken right and left, wildfires rage, etc. etc.
Those of us who research and educate about eco-restoration have these accelerating phenomena firmly in mind. What considerations might be at the top of the list in approaching our daunting portfolio of problems? Here are some suggestions: Continue reading
by Jacqueline Sussman
Research Associate, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Solar panels on rooftops. Hybrid and electric vehicles. Meatless Mondays. What do all of these indicators of societal progress have in common? They are just some examples among the many widely attainable, lifestyle modifiers for reducing energy consumption in our fossil fuel-addicted world. But while replacing SUVs with hybrid cars and changing lifestyle habits to reduce individual carbon footprints is important, it simply isn’t enough to reverse climate change. We have long surpassed the point where phasing down fossil fuel emissions alone will arrange for a biologically-diverse and livable climate.
By Helen D. Silver, Director of Policy, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
In September, members of the United Nations will convene a round of climate change negotiations. It’s not hard to guess what is on the table: greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Yet after almost three decades of effort, during which atmospheric carbon concentrations have only gone up, another meeting focused primarily if not exclusively on emissions reductions appears to hold little promise for success. While emissions reductions are of course essential and we must keep working to end the burning of fossil fuels, we also have to do something else. Something that brings new hope to addressing global warming. That something is soils.
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate (BLC) seeks to redirect the climate conversation to include large-scale carbon sequestration through ecosystem restoration. Given that we know that healthy soils have the potential to sequester vast amounts of carbon dioxide, indeed enough to potentially reverse climate change, why haven’t policies seized upon this simple, apparent opportunity? I have found the following questions helpful:
1. Have GHG emissions reduction efforts reduced emissions? Clearly not. Despite admirable attempts and sincere commitment, climate policies have resulted in little meaningful mitigation of the climate crisis. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have climbed to 400 parts per million (ppm), far above what most scientists agree is the upper bound of a safe level. Emissions continue rising annually, and all the while disruptions from climate change – in the form of rising temperatures, unpredictable water supplies, widespread drought and more violent storms – are being felt on every continent with ever-increasing frequency and intensity. Continue reading
Click here for high resolution image.
by Steve Wineman
“Everything is connected to everything else.” – Barry Commoner, The Closing Circle
Like most climate activists, for a long time I thought that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were THE driving force behind climate change. It followed that reducing emissions was our overriding goal.
A steady stream of messages from both the climate movement and the mainstream media are constantly reinforcing the perception that GHGs and the climate emergency are synonymous. The most prominent activist organization is named after atmospheric carbon levels. Even the climate deniers reinforce this focus when they react against the claims of scientists and activists about carbon. GHGs and what to do (or not do) about them frame the debate.
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate is dedicated to expanding the terms of the climate conversation. We want to bring to the table measures for restoring degraded and desertified lands, re-establishing balanced water cycles, managing forests and reforestation, and restoring ocean food chains. This is not instead of working to reduce GHG emissions, but in addition. These are measures that have the potential to store huge amounts of carbon in the soil, reduce flooding and drought by stabilizing local climates, address the immediate dangers posed by the world’s diminished water supplies, restore habitable environments for innumerable species, increase food supplies and create jobs. Why would such measures not be on the climate table in addition to emission reduction?
Spanning the specific benefits of individual measures is the overarching need to restore the balance of Earth’s interconnected natural systems. Why would we not place carbon reduction into this larger ecological context?
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I can think of several reasons why it’s not easy to change the conversation. Continue reading
By Judith Schwartz, Advisory Board Member and author of Cows Save the Planet
With a record drought in California, floods in the UK and snow paralyzing areas of the South that have hardly met a plow, people are starting to make the connection between climate change and water. But generally the cause-and-effect link only goes one way, noting how climate change will affect water by putting stress on global water sources while parts of the world get soaked. This is a real concern. But we’re not seeing the other part of the picture: the effect that water can have on climate. You see, water in its various forms is an important thermoregulator of climate. By working with the water cycle—most basically by keeping water on the land in soil and vegetation—we can address climate changes locally, regionally and even beyond.
Photograph of the square and adjacent park in Trebon, Czech Republic, taken with a thermal camera. The differences in temperatures between the vegetation, facades and roofs of the houses – from 15°C (59°F) to 30°C (86°F) – are visible.
[From New Water Paradigm, p. 33]
By Adam D. Sacks, Executive Director
At Biodiversity for a Livable Climate, removing carbon from the atmosphere by regenerating ecosystems and restoring biodiversity is our non-profit mission. Supporting farmers, herders and ranchers around the world to work in ways that both sequester carbon in soils and provide major benefits in productivity is a key means to that end. Unfortunately, the resources that carbon farmers need to accomplish this are currently in short supply. We need to develop a conceptual framework outside the current carbon-market mechanisms to advance the soil solution to global warming, and to provide funds, training and supplies that make worldwide carbon farming on billions of acres a reality.
Helen D. Silver, Director of Policy, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Happy New Year!
Over the holiday season, I had the luxury of sharing many meals with family and friends, including latkes and apple sauce; Tofurkey and yams; and locally caught shrimp and farm-raised oysters. In discussing my work, I was asked several times, “But how can you not eat meat and be so passionate about Holistic Planned Grazing?”
Easily. Holistic Planned Grazing promotes reversing climate change, restoring grassland ecosystems, animal welfare, and healthier food. That Holistic Planned Grazing offers a sustainable meat source is incidental for most ecological purposes, in particular restoring degraded land (notably, 74% of the land in North America). Such restoration is necessary here and worldwide to avoid the worst impacts of climate change in the near and long term.