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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Nature Wants Her Carbon Back

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

By looking down, things are looking up.

Here's a little known fact about climate change: According to NOAA, if we could magically cut all current CO2 emissions worldwide to zero today (a feat even Merlin couldn't achieve) it would do nothing to stop climate change from continuing to get worse for centuries. Unless we actually draw some of the carbon already emitted back down to earth we are simply telling a 400-pound patient to gain weight a little more slowly.

Amazingly, however, doing so may be significantly easier than reducing emissions. According to a steadily increasing number of studies, it turns out we can blow by the goal of slowing climate change and actually reverse it. While we've all been looking to the atmosphere and the amounts of CO2 we emit into it for the answer, the solution itself may be right under our feet. In the dirt.

According to the latest research from Ohio State University's Rattan Lal, Texas A&M's Richard Teague, IFOAM's Andre Leu (as reported in the UN paper "Wake Up Before It's Too Late" (UN) and the Rodale Institute anywhere from one-third to one-half of manmade CO2 in the atmosphere comes from industrial agriculture. That's more than all the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels worldwide. How is it possible that with the entire planet focusing on reducing CO2 emissions we're not even paying lip service to the single largest contributor? (Rodale)

But that's only half of the story. To makes matters worse, industrial agriculture compounds the problem by preventing soil from reabsorbing that carbon, thus trapping it in the atmosphere.

To understand how, it's important to remember a few simple facts: There is no waste in nature (she reuses everything); We don't create carbon (we just move it from place to place); and, nature is literally dying to take back the excess carbon we put into the atmosphere and reuse it to grow us more stuff.     

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