FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Organic Revolution

by RONNIE CUMMINS

Beyond the gloom and doom of the climate crisis, there lies a powerful and regenerative grassroots solution: organic food, farming, and ranching. Even as politicians and the powerful fossil fuel lobby drag their heels and refuse to acknowledge that we have about ten years left of “business as usual” before we irreversibly destroy the climate and ourselves, there is a powerful, though largely unrecognized, life-force spreading its roots underground.

Millions of organic farmers, ranchers, conservationists, and backyard gardeners (supported by millions of organic consumers) are demonstrating that we can build a healthy alternative to industrial agriculture and Food Inc. Our growing organic movement is proving that we can not only feed the world with healthy food, but also reverse global warming, by capturing and sequestering billions of tons of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases in the soil, through plant photosynthesis, composting, cover crops, rotational grazing, wetlands preservation, and reforestation.

The heretofore unpublicized “good news” on climate change, according to the Rodale Institute and other soil scientists, is that transitioning from chemical, water, and energy-intensive industrial agriculture practices to organic farming and ranching on the world’s 3.5 billion acres of farmland and 8.2 billion acres of pasture or rangeland can sequester 7,000 pounds per acre of climate-destabilizing CO2 every year, while nurturing healthy soils, plants, grasses, and trees that are resistant to drought, heavy rain, pests, and disease. And of course organic farms and ranches can provide us with food that is much more nutritious than industrial farms and ranches—food filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and essential trace minerals, free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), pesticides, antibiotics, and sewage sludge.

In 2006, U.S. carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels (approximately 25% of the world’s total) was estimated at nearly 6.5 billion tons. If a 7,000 lb/CO2/ac/year sequestration rate were achieved on all 434 million acres of cropland in the United States, nearly 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide would be sequestered per year, mitigating close to one quarter of the country’s total fossil fuel emissions. If pastures and rangelands were similarly converted to organic practices, we would literally be well on our way to reversing global warming.

But we need an organic revolution in ranching and livestock production, as well as farming and forestry. We need to drastically reduce meat overproduction (77% of all U.S. agriculture resources are devoted to raising animals or animal feed), and over-consumption (a leading cause of obesity, heart disease and cancer) and ban methane-belching factory farms. As the Rodale Institute points out, organic livestock raising practices, including rotational grazing, manure management, methane capture for biogas production, and improved feeds and feed additives, can drastically reduce livestock-related emissions and, because of the massive acreage currently devoted to livestock production (nearly 2.5 times greater than croplands), can safely sequester approximately 60% of the total greenhouse gases that humans, animals, cars, and industry are pumping out every year.

This Organic Revolution, or “Great Sequestering,” made possible by a global grassroots movement with the power to transform the marketplace and public policy, is perhaps the only short-term strategy or solution at hand that can buy us the precious time we need to radically reduce energy use and greenhouse pollution and build a green economy. Although politicians and the coal and utilities industry claim that sequestration of massive carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants is on the horizon, there is little or no scientific evidence to back this up. Sequestration of CO2 in the soils of organic farms and ranches, on the other hand, is a proven fact.

Before carbon sequestering forests and grasslands were ravaged by chemical-intensive industrial agriculture (and industrial forestry), soil organic matter generally composed 6-10% of the soil volume, three to six times the 1-3% levels typical of today’s industrial agriculture soils. In other words, taxpayer subsidized, chemical-based industrial agriculture, factory farms, and unrestricted grazing (along with industrial forestry) have turned the earth’s soil (which still contains three times as much carbon as the entire amount of CO2 in the atmosphere) from being a climate-stabilizing carbon sink into a massive and dangerous source of global warming.

Given our escalating climate emergency, the burning question is how do we move organics in the U.S. from being the 4% alternative in the marketplace to being the norm, and organic acreage from being 1% of total cultivated land to the majority of farmland, pasture, and rangeland? The answer of course is that we must sound the alert, offer up our practical solutions and rapidly transform public consciousness and policy. But the Via Organica, the road to get there, will be long and arduous. The majority of Americans must not only stop buying chemical, GMO, globally sourced and so-called “natural” food, and switch to organic and more locally and regionally produced products, but we must also rise up as a political movement and change public policy. We must literally force the politicians and the corporations to put a halt to our “business as usual” destruction of the climate and public health, and instead move to an ethical and scientifically grounded policy and practice that promotes health, conservation, greenhouse gas reduction, and organic sequestration. Please join and support the Organic Consumers Association and the climate change movement http://www.350.org as we carry out this life or death campaign.

RONNIE CUMMINS is director of the Organic Consumers Alliance. He can be reached at: ronnie@organicconsumers.org.

 

 

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico-based affiliate, Via Organica.

More articles by:
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered: a Fragment (Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre)
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail