20151210-KarenPinkus3-600x298.jpg

This is not exactly my field of expertise, but as I mentioned in my previous post, I believe we aren't going to reach any minimally acceptable targets without sucking C02 out of the atmosphere.  

Carbonizing Soil and Dark Circles

December 10, 2015

20151210-KarenPinkus3-600x298.jpg

This is not exactly my field of expertise, but as I mentioned in my previous post, I believe we aren't going to reach any minimally acceptable targets without sucking C02 out of the atmosphere. Somehow. Somewhere. So I thought I'd go to a discussion on "natural" carbon capture and storage. There is quite a bit of talk here in Paris about food security, but little on agriculture and even less on agriculture in relation to mitigation. The French-led initiative, 4 pour 1000, seems like a very positive step in agro-ecology. They are engaged in thinking about how soil (agriculture) can be an enhanced sink and also, simultaneously, more productive.

Karen PinkusPinkus, a professor of Romance Studies and Comparative Literature, is a member of Cornell's COP21 delegation (watch her COP21 video)

I won't go into all the details discussed around this issue except to say that, as usual, measurement and verification are difficult issues to resolve. How much carbon can/will/might be taken up in different landscapes? How can this uptake be figured in a country's INDC? Who will verify? Money is needed to allow farmers to invest in technologies. Who will pay? More vague optimism was expressed (note to students: this is the passive voice; don't use it).

One concrete idea was put forward by Dennis Garrity (of the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification):  We need a major research program to perennialize agriculture systems, he stated. In the future, could the bulk of food come not from wheat and maize but from trees and shrubs? This could be the best way to carbonize the soil; decarbonize the atmosphere. This would require major shifts in world cultures, obviously. Agriculture is local; very, very local. Carbon is global.

A member of the panel noted he'd been working on the Agreement until 5 a.m. and had only three hours of sleep. In the hall, waiting to enter the plenary, I overheard someone else asking if there was going to be another mass sleepover party tonight. A lot of bleary eyes. Not to be confused with the people with circles around their eyes, signifying (to the powers that be): "We're watching you." We want action. Yesterday.