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Daily News Blog

16
Feb

Shift to Organic Farming, Not Carbon Trading, Is Critical to Thwart the Climate Crisis and Biodiversity Collapse

(Beyond Pesticides, February 16, 2021) The climate crisis, with unprecedented temperature shifts, storms, and wildfires, and the devastating decline in biodiversity are escalating as a result of uncontrolled and unnecessary reliance on toxic chemicals. These existential crises that threaten life, to be successfully thwarted, require a meaningful holistic strategy that commits our nation to ending our fossil fuel-based economy and use of petroleum-based materials that release harmful levels of carbon and noxious gases (including greenhouse gases/GHG) into the environment. The proposals now in Congress and the administration require close attention and scrutiny if we are to meet the urgency of the moment.

The carbon market approach embodied in the Growing Climate Solutions Act and President Biden’s Climate 21 Project does not adequately and comprehensively respond to the current and looming interconnected threats to public health and the environment. The focus on carbon to the exclusion of a holistic approach that addresses complex life-supporting biological communities allows the continuation of disproportionate hazards to people of color and communities living adjacent to toxic sites. The mechanisms of carbon trading or the purchasing of carbon offsets under consideration do not establish an end date for admittedly unacceptable materials and practices, nor do they ensure a transition to life-sustaining practices. Just as there are proposals to end production of the combustion engine and move to electric vehicles, we must demand that agriculture—across the board and on an expedited five-year schedule—shift to organic practices, whose standards are already codified in federal law. Organic production and handling practices have a proven, commercially viable, track record and both sequester carbon and eliminate petroleum-based pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. And, importantly, the data shows that this sector of agriculture is now operating without sacrificing productivity or profitability. The only problem: the vested economic interests in the petroleum and chemical industry are holding on to the status-quo. The good news: there are good jobs and money to be made in a green economy.

Tell your Congressional Representatives and Senators to support a holistic approach to the existential threats of the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse.

Carbon trading schemes won’t work because:

In addition,

Why we need a national plan to shift to 100% organic farming. Organic land management is more effective at reducing emissions and increasing carbon sequestration. Organic farming practices have been shown to sequester carbon in the soil. There is in place a national program for certifying farms that meet organic standards. In addition, organic operations are required to “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.” 

Why undefined “regenerative” agriculture falls short. The so-called “regenerative agriculture” promoted by proposals like the Growing Climate Solutions Act and President Biden’s Climate 21 Project ignores the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health and ecosystem services caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the adverse impact of chemical no-till practices that rely on glyphosate (Roundup) and other equally hazardous herbicides, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels—as key ingredients and also for the heat and energy-driving chemical reactions. It is important to see through this deception. As aptly stated by Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute, “We believe that in order to be regenerative, you have to start by being organic. It’s a little disingenuous to say you can regenerate soil health and sequester carbon and still use nitrogen fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. What you’re really saying is equivalent to saying, ‘I want to be healthy as a person, but I still want to smoke cigarettes.’”

Beyond farming, we need a land management plan as a part of a national plan. Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, which also reduces dependence on petroleum-based pesticides. Natural forests are more effective than tree plantations in sequestering carbon. Biodiversity in forest ecosystems adds to their effectiveness in sequestering carbon. In addition, biodiversity buffers against damage from climate change—for example, by protecting shorelines from storm damage. Protecting forests, mangroves, peatlands, and other natural habitats helps to store more carbon in soil and vegetation.
Preserving natural lands and transitioning farms to organic production should be the cornerstones to combating climate change. Instead of promoting carbon trading, Congress and the Biden Administration must incorporate into a holistic approach, at the very least, the provisions included in the following:

  • Climate Stewardship Act of 2019, introduced in the House by then-Representative Haaland and in the Senate by Senator Booker.
  • The Agriculture Resilience Act, introduced in 2020 by Representative Pingree.
  • Former Senator Udall’s pledge to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and ocean by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
  • Representative Neguse’s Resolution on a National Biodiversity Strategy.
  • $30 billion fund dedicated solely to fund the transition to organic agriculture, with a goal of achieving 100% organic farms by 2026.

Tell your Congressional Representatives and Senators to support a holistic approach to the existential threats of the climate crisis and biodiversity collapse.

Letter to Congress

I am concerned that the carbon market approach embodied in the Growing Climate Solutions Act and President Biden’s Climate 21 Project does not adequately and comprehensively respond to interconnected threats to public health and the environment. The climate crisis and the devastating decline in biodiversity are escalating as a result of uncontrolled and unnecessary reliance on toxic chemicals. These threats to life require a meaningful holistic strategy to end our fossil fuel dependence and use of materials that release harmful levels of noxious gases (including greenhouse gases/GHG). The current carbon market proposals fall short.

The focus on carbon outside of a holistic approach allows continued disproportionate hazards to people of color and communities living near toxic sites. Carbon trading/offsets under consideration do not establish an end date for admittedly unacceptable practices or ensure a transition to life-sustaining practices. Alongside proposals to replace the combustion engine with electric vehicles, agriculture must—across the board and on an expedited five-year schedule—shift to organic practices. Organic practices both sequester carbon and eliminate petroleum-based pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Importantly, the data show that organic agriculture now operates without sacrificing productivity or profitability. While the vested economic interests in the petroleum and chemical industry cling to the status quo, there are good jobs and money to be made in a green economy.

Carbon trading schemes are flawed because they:

  • Ignore the impact of more potent GHGs, including the 300 times as potent nitrous oxide emitted by chemical fertilizer.
  • Allow big polluters to continue business as usual by purchasing carbon credits.
  • Can incentivize practices, like chemical no-till, that rely on inputs based on petroleum, poison soil, and release more potent GHGs.
  • Do not protect natural land, which is even more effective in sequestering carbon.
  • Has negative impacts on communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel destruction, including indigenous communities and other people of color on the fencelines of the fossil fuel industry.

We need a national plan to shift to 100% organic farming. Organic land management is more effective at reducing emissions and sequesters carbon in the soil. There is already a national program for certifying farms that meet organic standards. Organic operations must “comprehensively conserve biodiversity by maintaining or improving all natural resources, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.”

Undefined “regenerative” agriculture falls short by ignoring the direct climate impacts of nitrogen fertilizers, the damage to soil health and ecosystem services caused by pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the fact that pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing is dependent on fossil fuels. It is important to see through this deception.

We need a national land management plan.  Preserving natural land increases biodiversity, reducing dependence on petroleum-based pesticides, and is more effective in sequestering carbon. Biodiversity buffers against damage from climate change—for example, by protecting shorelines from storm damage.

Preserving natural lands and transitioning farms to organic production should be the cornerstones to combating climate change. Instead of promoting carbon trading, Congress and the Administration must incorporate into a holistic approach, at the very least, the provisions included in the:

  • Climate Stewardship Act of 2019.
  • The Agriculture Resilience Act of 2020.
  • A pledge to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and ocean by 2030 and 50% by 2050.
  • The Resolution on a National Biodiversity Strategy.
  • A $30 billion fund dedicated solely to fund the transition to organic agriculture, with a goal of achieving 100% organic farms by 2026.

Thank you.

 

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  • Archives

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    • Announcements (586)
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