January 1, 2019

Carbon Sinks

Filed under: Agroecology, Climate Crisis, Food and Farms — Tags: , , — Russ @ 12:18 pm


Far more carbon is stored, “sunken” in the soil than in the atmosphere and in all living bodies combined. Whenever forest or grassland or wetland is destroyed, and the soil dried out or ripped up, vast amounts of this sunk carbon is released into the atmosphere. (Wetlands destruction is one of the main sources of methane emission; methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.) In the same way, to destroy a natural community like a forest or grassland or wetland and replace it with any kind of monoculture or suburbia always means a great emission of carbon contained in the natural network of organisms compared to whatever threadbare monoculture is imposed in place of that network. That’s in addition to all the emissions from the industrial infrastructure within which systems like industrial agriculture are ensconced.
(For industrial agriculture: Mining, transportation, oil- and gas-based inputs, farming machinery, transportation, commodity machinery, transportation, food manufacturing, transportation, retailing, transportation, preparation in the residence. We can trace a similar oil/gas/coal infrastructure for industrial “renewables” like wind and solar.)
So all “carbon-neutral” claims for industrial systems superimposed over the destruction of natural ecologies are lies. In every case huge amounts of carbon which were sunk in the ground and in natural biomass are emitted to the air, and whatever is imposed in place of the natural order sinks or incarnates only a fraction at best of what the natural ecology used to sink and incarnate.
The way to reverse this is:
1. Stop destroying what little forest, grassland, wetland still exists. This will halt the destruction of sinks.
2. Let these resume the habitats where they naturally would prevail. This will begin to rebuild natural sinks.
3. We must transform food production from industrial commodity agriculture which destroys sinks and produces only corporate commodities, from which food for people is then supposed to “trickle down”, to agroecological horticulture.* Organized according to food sovereignty and using agroecology we the people grow abundant wholesome food for ourselves and our community and region, not commodities for globalization. We do so in harmony with natural processes and on the ecologically right kind of land. We disturb the environment far less while producing far more food per acre in terms of both calories and nutrition than industrial monocultures. We use the science of building the soil both for improved food growth and to incorporate the greatest amount of soil organic matter. We can grow food in this way which is truly carbon neutral and even help sink more carbon. The industrial agriculture implicitly or explicitly supported by the whole green capitalism crew never could do this. Quite the extreme opposite.
*The sustainable mix includes agroecology, forage, community-based livestock pastoralism (never commodity-based or industrial, which is never sustainable), community-based hunting and fishing (never commodity-based or industrial, which is never sustainable).


    • That link looks good, thanks. Here’s one from Rodale which I printed out several years ago which is pretty good on the sink potential. (Not so good on the need to end emissions, though; and it implies a utopian “green” productionism for the future; but those are just brief allusions here and there.)

      Click to access rodale-white-paper.pdf

      Comment by Russell Bangs — January 2, 2019 @ 3:15 am

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