Geotherapy on a Fast Track?
This is adapted from the blog of Benoit Lambert. Click here for the original version in French and English.
According to Prof. Rattan Lal of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University, the world’s cultivated soils have lost 50-70% of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air, to become CO2. Yet the issues of land use, agriculture and forestry remain little discussed by international bodies on climate issues. Nonetheless science has been telling us for a while there is no coming out of the climate-water-food crises, without an organic U-turn of the anthropocene. ” Anthropocene – an era in which humanity transforms the Earth on a geological scale. There is a constant need to introduce new terms to convey the dimensions of the problems humanity is facing regarding the degradation of the biosphere: problems, and solutions, everything of pharaonic dimensions.
It looks as if the adoption of geotherapy principles might be on a fast track. Recent progress of geotherapy resembles American football: a precise pass can change the direction of the game and bring in a new spirit. A ‘soil-age’ might be quietly rising, with a much needed delivery-oriented, knowledge-action network. Hopes were confirmed at COP 22 in Marrakech.
Recent progress of geotherapy resembles American football: a precise pass can change the direction of the game and bring in a new spirit. A ‘soil-age’ might be quietly rising, with a much needed delivery-oriented, knowledge-action network.
At the COP 22 in November 2016, proponents of soils as a fundamental part of the solutions to the climate crisis, have reason to celebrate. First, the French initiative, 4 per 1000, aims to increase the carbon in soils of the world per year by 0.4%, has been officially supported by 200 organisations, regions, and 37 countries. Launched by French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Föll, in March of 2015, it was officially introduced into the Lima-Paris Agenda of Solutions at the UN headquarters in New York in July that same year, and confirmed in Paris at COP 21. At COP 22 in Marrakech Mr. Pau Luu, who was appointed as the Executive Secretary, summed up the ambition of the technical and scientific committee: “An annual growth of carbon stocks in soils of 4 per 1000, or 0.4%, would stop the concentration of CO2 of human origin in the atmosphere. The objective is to have more fertile soils, adapted to climate changes, that resist droughts better and play the role of carbon sinks. The 4p1000 initiative aims to show that food security and the fight against climate disorders are complementary.”
Soils are finally being given attention. And Minister Le Föll by the same token, on January 6, 2017, received a prize from the International Union of Soil Sciences for his efforts with the 4p1000.org initiative. It is an extremely rare event to see a politician being cheered by a scientific organisation. It reinforces the feeling that something major is happening, maybe a fast-track towards geotherapy.
It (COP 22) brought together biologists, ecologists, oceanographers and regenerative development specialists to consider ways of reversing the human impact of climate change. Our focus was on developing positive actions for the living world to restore balance, including bio-mimicry, permaculture, ecological engineering and circular economies.
Commonwealth and Africa on board
Following the path drawn by Minister Le Föll, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Her Excellency Patricia Scotland, declared at COP 22 in Marrakech: “A month ago, we convened a groundbreaking and dynamic gathering on regenerative development to reverse climate change. It brought together biologists, ecologists, oceanographers and regenerative development specialists to consider ways of reversing the human impact of climate change. Our focus was on developing positive actions for the living world to restore balance, including bio-mimicry, permaculture, ecological engineering and circular economies.”
Also in Marrakech, twenty-seven African countries confirmed the Marrakech Declaration for Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA). Driven by Morocco it has taken the task of guaranteeing adaptation finance for African agriculture and to raise agricultural productivity on the continent. M. Stéphane Le Föll insisted on his support of the AAA. Around the initiative for the AAA, where 20 ministers and 27 delegations adopted the Marrakech Declaration, consolidates the countries’ commitment. It seeks to reduce Africa’s agricultural vulnerability to climate change, with the aim of promoting and fostering the implementation of concrete projects that will help improve land and agricultural water management, food security, as well as, the management of the effects of climate change.
Adding to the 4 per 1000, the coming in of such a major organisation as the Commonwealth, the AAA, and considerations for carbon farming by China is transforming perspectives for carbon farming to a planetary scale, giving credibility to an eventual geotherapy strategy. Basically half the world has declared it will put carbon back in soils to enhance food security and to reverse climate change. While those are declarations on a voluntary basis, some countries will include land and soil measures in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to respect the Paris Agreement. In less than two years, that is huge progress. And now, it seems as if FAO is jumping on the train.
Please see the John Liu documentary Greening China’s Loess Plateau or the use of biochar, go to International Biochar Initiative to see new targets presented in China. (Please also see Lessons of the Loess Plateau and other videos at commonland.org – J.C. editor)
It is an extremely rare event to see a politician being cheered by a scientific organisation. It reinforces the feeling that something major is happening, maybe a fast-track towards geotherapy.
FAO’s Global Symposium on Soil Organic Carbon, March 21-23 2017
According to FAO, the symposium output will be a scientific document highlighting the role of soils and soil organic carbon (SOC) management in meeting the climate change and sustainable development agendas that could be assessed by IPCC, in its regular reports, starting with the Special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The document will present an overview of the state-of-the-art in soil organic carbon (SOC) monitoring, measures to maintain and enhance SOC, and recommended methods for monitoring and reporting SOC.
The overall aim of the symposium is to review the role of soils and SOC in the context of climate change and sustainable development and build scientific evidence that could be assessed in the regular IPCC Assessment Reports. As if FAO, the Commonwealth, and some countries are realizing they cannot offer a credible solution to the rise of GHG in the atmosphere and oceans without considering what has been happening to soils and wetlands. That carbon drawdown using photosynthesis and stabilisation processes of carbon farming, should be half the discussion in parallel to sources of emissions.
Geotherapy might not be going fast enough, but observers two years ago would not have bet on such rapid developments. These are results to work on, to give the movement the dimensions it needs, for a fast-track regenerative geotherapy to save humanity from future disasters.
Benoit Lambert, PhD is a member of the Soil4Climate advisory board; Biochar developer and geotherapist; owner of Biochar Génération; formally, Editor and Director of Publications, Worldwatch Institute, Geneva, Switzerland.