A sustainable climate solution is right under our feet, in the form of healthy soil.
Not only is Jason Mraz serious about growing his own food, which means he cares about healthy soils in his growing beds, but he's also passionate about soil regeneration on a large scale as a potential solution for addressing the factors that affect climate change, and for mitigating the effects of drought.
Although we've started to make some progress toward reducing our carbon emissions through increasing energy efficiency, adopting policies that attempt to make energy generation cleaner, and focusing on developing more renewable energy sources that don't come with a huge carbon footprint, we've already put some 880 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
It's not (yet) feasible to build huge machines that can suck this excess CO2 out of our atmosphere, so in order to help balance the carbon cycle, we need to focus on supporting and enabling the most powerful carbon sequestration method we have, which are the incredibly basic life-support systems of photosynthesis and healthy soil biology.
As Tom Newmark, of Carbon Underground, explains, these natural processes are nature's carbon heroes:
"There is a technology that exists today that will suck excess CO2 out of the atmosphere. That technology is called photosynthesis. When I look outside my office window I see plants. Through photosynthesis, plants convert sunlight, CO2, and water to carbohydrates and oxygen. Plants are sucking tens of billions of tons of CO2 and creating plant sugars/carbohydrates. Some plant sugars we eat and some pass through the plant and get converted into humus, soil organic matter. This isn’t rocket science. This is a biological fact."
There is one problem, however, which is that because of the explosion in industrial-scale agriculture, with its dependence on tilling the soil regularly and then applying not only pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides to the soil (essentially disrupting healthy soil biology), but also relying on the constant application of conventional fertilizers, our soils are losing their resilience and releasing more carbon into the atmosphere instead of sequestering it.
One solution to this carbon conundrum is to focus on building more healthy soils, through what is called regenerative agriculture, which has the ability to not only provide food, and to do it sustainably, but to also increase carbon sequestration, as well as boost the soil's ability to hold and store water.
"Healthy soil is not simply a carbon sink, it’s a water sponge. Therefore it keeps soil moist, even in times of droughts. So we can produce more food, with less water, during the droughts which seem to be occurring more often and with greater severity." - Carbon Underground
But in order for this to be effective, we need large-scale support for regenerative agriculture practices, including composting and no-till methods, which is where Jason Mraz comes in. The state of California has committed to spending $2 billion to address climate change (the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund), and the folks at Kiss the Ground are asking the governor to set aside a small fraction of that money ($160 million) to help rebuild healthy soil in the state:
The money would be allocated to three different proposals, all of which have the potential for being part of effective climate solutions and increasing the resilience of soils to the effects of drought:
$20 million to Governor Brown’s Healthy Soil Initiative, including funding for Carbon Farming in Assembly Member Levine's AB 761 (http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/EnvironmentalStewardship/HealthySoils.html)
$65 million to Senator Wolk’s Bill SB 367 (Agriculture Climate Benefits Act) for regenerative agriculture, including $25 million for on-farm projects that build soil and $40 million to permanent farmland easements and practices that reduce and sequester carbon. (http://calclimateag.org/sb-367/)
$75 million to fund CalRecycle’s composting and recycling efforts, helping California build the 100 new composting facilities that will be necessary to recover our organic waste, as was proposed in the Assembly’s budget recommendations.
If you'd like to add your name to those of thousands of others who are in favor of more soil regeneration practices, increased drought resilience, and effective climate change solutions, you can sign this petition to California Governor Brown (and other CA lawmakers): California Soils need your help. Seriously. Support Governor Brown in rebuilding Healthy Soils.
Learn more at The Soil Story.