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The Carbon Ranch: Fighting Climate Change One Acre at a Time

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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-02-10 08:57 PM
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The Carbon Ranch: Fighting Climate Change One Acre at a Time

"The fact that Earth's land masses continue to produce a net sink of carbon dioxide provides a glimmer of hope for the task of stabilizing climate," he writes. "This carbon sink occurs despite large-scale deforestation in many parts of the world, as well as agricultural practices that tend to release soil carbon to the atmosphere. Improved agricultural and forestry practices could significantly increase the uptake of carbon dioxide." <12>

How is this possible?

There is a simple answer: two-thirds of the Earth's land mass is grassland and home to two billion people who depend on livestock at least partially for their livelihood. This means that managing the land for CO 2 sequestration, even on a small scale, could have a big impact on people and the planet. Livestock are key both economically and ecologically. They are an important source of food and wealth (and culture) to much of the Earth's human population and thus could be mobilized for carbon action.

"Healthy grasslands, livestock and associated livelihoods constitute a win-win option for addressing climate change in fragile dryland areas where pastoralism remains the most rational strategy for the wellbeing of communities," write the authors of a new FAO report from the United Nations. "It is a win-win scenario for sequestering carbon, reversing environmental degradation and improving the health, well-being and long term sustainability of livestock based livelihoods." <13>

Critics who view livestock grazing as a negative environmental stressor, and argue for its complete cessation, might be surprised to learn that early research, according to Dr. Peter Smith, indicates that "carbon accrual on optimally grazed lands is often greater than on ungrazed or overgrazed land."<14>

Taken together, sequestering CO 2 in the soil has the potential to significantly mitigate the climate crisis. However, a 'carbon ranch' must do more than just photosynthesize energy.


http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22092....
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-02-10 09:18 PM
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1. ...
However, the fourth measurement eutrophying emissions has been the source of considerable controversy in recent years. It refers to the amount of methane produced by the digestive system of livestock (and released by belching and farting) during its time on the ranch, farm, or feedlot and in the public's mind the connotation is negative. That's because research indicates that the amount of methane produced by ruminants can be considerable. For example, a United Nations report released in 2006 titled " Livestock's Long Shadow" determined "that livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a bigger share than that of transport." <16>

This total is due to chemical fertilizer production, deforestation for pasture, cultivation of feed crops (corn), feed transport, animal production (fermentation and methane and nitrous oxide emissions) and the transportation of animal products. In other words: the report rolled together a natural biological process eutrophying emissions with fossil fuel-intensive industrial livestock production activities, especially those employed in feedlots, and branded the entire system with a negative stigma. As a result, the report created an impression among the public at large, promoted vigorously by some advocacy organizations, that the answer to the climate crisis is to 'eat less red meat.'


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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-02-10 09:28 PM
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2. It was James Hansen that was quoted in that article.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-02-10 09:46 PM
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4. pretty sure the part I quoted was from the author of the article, Courtney White
being somewhat biased (livestock rancher, western US) I liked the whole article. Just wanted to highlight that concept that has been thrown around a lot as "evidence" that cattle are bad and therefore we shouldn't consume beef.
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-02-10 09:43 PM
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3. Another natural way is to replant the trees back into those areas. In
the area that I grew up in farmers systematically destroyed all the trees along ditches and river so they could claim more farmland. This may have made short term economic sense but it did not help in the long term. Their water levels went down and the trees are no longer using up the carbon. Conservation is the way to go.
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-02-10 09:49 PM
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5. the main areas of focus in the article tend to be more arid and are "invaded" with shrubby trees
more commonly called brush. A functioning grassland is better than brush or small trees in terms of soils and carbon sequestration.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-02-10 10:20 PM
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6. A functioning grassland can sequester more carbon
than even large forests. :)
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