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Organic Farming Can Reverse Climate Change

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(Kutztown, PA)  Today Rodale Institute announced the launch of a global campaign to generate public awareness of soil's ability to reverse climate change, but only when the health of the soil is maintained through organic regenerative agriculture. The campaign will call for the restructuring of our global food system with the goal of reversing climate change through photosynthesis and biology.

The white paper, entitled Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming, is the central tool of the campaign.  The paper was penned by Rodale Institute, the independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit agricultural research institute widely recognized as the birthplace of the organic movement in the United States.

The white paper states that "We could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term "regenerative organic agriculture.""

If management of all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model as practiced at the research sites included in the white paper, more than 40% of annual emissions could potentially be captured.  If, at the same time, all global pasture was managed to a regenerative model, an additional 71% could be sequestered.  Essentially, passing the 100% mark means a drawing down of excess greenhouse gases, resulting in the reversal of the greenhouse effect.

Regenerative organic agriculture is comprised of organic practices including (at a minimum): cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation. Conservation tillage, while not yet widely used in organic systems, is a regenerative organic practice integral to soil-carbon sequestration.  Other biological farming systems that use some of these techniques include ecological, progressive, natural, pro-soil, and carbon farming.

"The purpose of our work is singular; we are working to create a massive awakening," said "Coach" Mark Smallwood, Executive Director of Rodale Institute.  "Our founder, J.I. Rodale, had a vision so ambitious that many people wrote him off at the time.  Almost 75 years later, the organic movement is exploding with growth and fierce determination.  But the stakes are much higher in 2014.  J.I. saw that agriculture was heading in a dangerous direction by way of the wide-spread adoption of the use of synthetic chemicals and the industrialization of farming.  He attempted to prevent that transition.  We no longer have the luxury of prevention.  Now we are in the dire situation of needing a cure, a reversal.  We know that correcting agriculture is an answer to climate chaos, and that it hinges on human behavior.  The massive awakening itself is the cure.  The future is underfoot.  It's all about healthy soil."

The Institute supports its claims by explaining that if sequestration rates attained by the cases cited inside the white paper were achieved on crop and pastureland across the globe, regenerative agriculture could sequester more than our current annual carbon dioxide emissions. Even if modest assumptions about soil's carbon sequestration potential are made, regenerative agriculture can easily keep annual emissions to within the desirable range necessary if we are to have a good chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C by 2020.   


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