The world is facing a real conundrum just now. With more than seven billion humans and counting, we’ve got to produce more food – much more food. But today, farmers everywhere must be more resilient in dealing with rising global heat, droughts, floods and extreme weather events. And in the process, farms must not add to the climate problem by emitting more and more carbon from cleared, degraded farmlands.
So here’s the plan:
- Increase global food production;
- Make farms more resilient to climate change; and
- Make agriculture a major carbon sink, not a carbon emitter as it is today.
But how? It’s not like we’ve got the wind at our back. Deserts are advancing around the world. More than 40% of the Earth’s landmasses are drylands, and about 20% of them have already succumbed to desertification. Two billion people – almost one third of the human population – are now at great risk of poverty, hunger and disease from desertification. Just when we’ve got to build productive, resilient and carbon-absorbing farm systems, we’re faced with the advance of vast desert lands, choking off food production, destroying biodiversity and accelerating climate change by releasing carbon stored in soil and plants into the atmosphere.
We could use a miracle just now, couldn’t we? Continue reading