Visit our new website:

Connor Stedman: Carbon Farming

  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 00:32

Sequestering atmospheric carbon through natural means

Climate change remains a hotly debated topic. But a scientific fact not up for dispute is the pronounced spike in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere over the past two centuries.

Know more about Russia than your friends:

Get our free ebook on how the Soviet Union became Putin's Russia.

Carbon Dioxide
Image source: Climate and Ecosystems Change Adaptation Research University Network - Flickr

There's a building urgency to find solutions that can manage/reverse that spike -- a process known as carbon sequestration. But how to do that on a planetary scale? It's a massive predicament. And most of the 'solutions' being proposed are technologically unproven, prohibitively costly and/or completely impractical.

Enter carbon farming. It uses nature-based farming practices to park gigatons of carbon in the soil, rebuild soil health and complexity, and revitalize the nutrient density of the foods that we eat. It is quite likely the only practical -- and best -- way to sequester carbon at massive scale, as well as reap a multitude of by-product benefits.

In this week's podcast, field ecologist and agriforestry specialist Connor Stedman explains the science behind the carbon farming process:

For the last few million years of the Earth’s history, when there’s been this cycle of glaciers advancing and receding in the northern hemisphere, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has gone between about 180 parts per million and 280 parts per million. That is the band in which all of human history has happened, up until the last 200 or 300 years.

Now the concentration of carbon dioxide is about 407 parts per million, almost 50% higher than the upper end of that historical normal. Carbon dioxide is one of a number of greenhouse gases that hold heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, rather than it being fully reflected back out into space

To give you an image of the numbers involved here, to get down from 407 parts per million to 350 parts per million, we would have to remove at least 130 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere and put it somewhere, plus zero net emissions beyond that. And because going to zero net emissions globally is not what’s going to happen, we’re going to have to take out quite a bit more than 130 billion tons. Most people are estimating between—even with rapid de-carbonization -- between 200 and 250 billion tons of carbon are going to have to be stored somehow.

Often when you read in the news about carbon sequestration, the main way it’s talked about is through geoengineering schemes and technologies. These include things like seeding clouds to increase the Earth’s albedo, the Earth’s reflective effect, so that more heat is reflected back into space. Or seeding the oceans with iron so that more carbon is stored in sea water. Or inventing nanomachines that would pull carbon out of the atmosphere and turn it into plastics directly. Or sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it in deep geologic structures. Or even more fanciful things like huge arrays of panels orbiting the Earth reflecting sunlight back out into space. It’s really wild, some of the things that are being talked about.

There are a few different problems with these geoengineering proposals. One of them is that they’re enormously expensive, in the many billions or even trillions of dollars. Another one is that most of them rely on totally unproven technology. I mean, this is like cold nuclear fusion category speculation in a lot of cases. And the third one is that they don’t address any other human problems. They’re a way for some of the people who have gotten very wealthy off of our current crisis to continue getting very wealthy off of the solution for it.

So, the big thought behind carbon farming is that we already have the technology needed to accomplish that level of sequestration. And it’s sequestration into ecosystems and land rather than into technological forms. And it’s sequestration using trees and wetlands and soil and living things that people have been working with for all of human history, rather than requiring a cutting-edge breakthrough.

And also, that carbon farming systems have the potential to address a lot of other human needs as well at the same time: needs around food security; needs around other forms of climate security, like resilience from flooding, resilience from drought and heat waves; and just a lot of other things that come with more biodiversity and more intensified and diverse food production.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Connor

Article by Adam Taggart, Peak Prosperity

The post Connor Stedman: Carbon Farming appeared first on ValueWalk.



Related Stories

Harvey Weinstein: 'Business as usual' at Weinstein Co, brother insists
  • Sat, 14 Oct 2017 09:45

Harvey Weinstein's brother Bob insists their production company is not facing closure or sale. BBC News - Business

Twitter chat: How senior citizens can address student debt
  • Sat, 14 Oct 2017 06:41

The amount that people aged 60 and over owe in student loans is growing. Illustration by Getty Images People aged 60 and older are the fastest growing...

Plans to limit holiday sickness claims
  • Sat, 14 Oct 2017 02:30

The government mulls limiting payouts by travel firms to deter the number of fake holiday sickness claims. BBC News - Business

Will There Be An iPhone 9 Pencil?
  • Sat, 14 Oct 2017 01:34

The iPhone X design is the biggest change in iPhone design we have seen in… Well… Forever. The bezel-less display, loss of the home button...

Philip Hammond says his remarks were a poor choice of words
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 23:37

The chancellor later tweeted that his comments were a "poor choice of words". BBC News - Business

T-Mobile Caps High-speed Data In Mexico And Canada To 5GB
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 21:30

T-Mobile has generously offered mobile data across borders from 2015 under its “Mobile Without Borders” offer, wherein the U.S. customers ...

Uber lodges appeal over London ban
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 18:30

The ride-hailing firm files an appeal after being denied a licence to operate in the capital. BBC News - Business

Tackling inequality: Taxing the rich
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 17:31

Main image:  FOR once, the Daily Mail and the Guardian, British newspapers of ...

Let’s Discuss President Trump’s Healthcare Executive Order
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:28

Photo credit: LollyKnit, CC BY 2.0. I was already planning to write about the Affordable Care Act today; I still don’t know any of my Washington...

What’s Your Financial Flinch Point?
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:30

Photo credit: Silver Blue, CC BY 2.0. We’re not quite halfway through the month, but I’ve already managed to spend the majority of my disc...

U.S. domestic stock funds win cash for first time in six weeks: Lipper
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 10:33

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. fund investors stopped resisting the festive mood in equity markets and joined the party, pouring cash into domestic stocks ...

Looking For The Next Big Thing: Innovation’s Rocky Path
  • Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:48

Innovation is the hot word in the business press and in academia. Business itself, maybe less so. If business is profitable and secure it would rather...

News Categories
Latest Stories