Skip to main content

I’ve been going to public lectures on climate change at Harvard, MIT, and other places since at least 1980.  Lately I’ve been thinking that I have yet to hear an ecologist talk about the subject.  I’ve seen climatologists, atmospheric chemists, atmospheric physicists, glaciologists, rocket scientists (thanks, S Fred Singer), oceanographers, and geologists address the subject.  But I can’t recall hearing an ecologist talk about climate change and ecological systems.  This becomes even more frustrating to me when I attend a lecture on geoengineering.  In the last couple of years, a joint Harvard and MIT group has been meeting to discuss this topic and the enormous intellectual effort devoted to rather simplistic solutions to complex systems problems is astonishing to me, especially since there seems to be such a great reluctance to engage on the systems issues.

Recently, some friends and colleagues have begun trying to remedy the situation, focusing on the global carbon cycle and, in particular, soil carbon.  Part of this is through the work of Allan Savory and his practice of Holistic Management in relation to livestock grazing patterns.  Another part is through the work of Tom Goreau protecting and, in some cases, restoring coral reefs.  Through their efforts, this year's Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference will have an extensive “Soil Carbon and Climate Track” introducing practicing farmers to ways in which their daily work can sequester carbon from the atmosphere for years, decades, and even centuries, becoming an important tool in diminishing climate change and, just possibly, reversing it.

A few weeks later, the NOFA Massachusetts chapter will host two day-long workshops with Dr. Christine Jones, an Australian soil biologist, on "Practical Options for Food Production Resilience in an Increasingly Variable Climate."  One workshop will be in the Boston area and the other will be in Western Massachusetts.

Lastly and certainly not least, they are organizing a conference at Tufts University at the end of November on "Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming."  Not only will the conference bring together experts from all over the world to talk about ecosystem solutions to confront climate change and global warming but it is also designed to start a global conversation and network to begin practicing these systemic solutions, sharing what works and understanding what doesn't and why.

This is a development I have long waited for and will participate in as much as I can.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Summer Conference takes place August 8-10, 2014 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA.
pdf alert:

Soil Carbon and Climate Track
2014 NOFA Summer Conference
These workshops provide information on farming practices that return carbon to the soil from the atmosphere, and build humus for the long term.

Carbon Farming: Regenerative Agriculture for the Climate
Saturday, August 9, 8:00-9:30AM
Connor Stedman: Ecological designer, organizer of the internationally acclaimed Carbon Farming Course.
Most efforts to respond to rapid global climate change center on emissions reduction or climate adaptation. This workshop explores a third tool - carbon sequestration in trees and soil. We’ll review the science and discuss agroforestry, holistic rotational grazing, organic no-till, and biochar. We'll identify promising methods and crops for farmers in the Northeast to trial.

Building Deep Rich Soils in New England
Saturday, August 9, 10:00-11:30AM
Jim Laurie: Biologist studying successful land and ocean restoration efforts.
New England soils are notoriously thin but can be restored with planned grazing. Increasing soil biodiversity improves the water cycle, food quality, farm profitability, wildlife habitat, and climate. We will learn from case studies how to integrate pasture, woodlands and croplands deepening soils to create a New England Savannah.

Grazing for Soil & Carbon
Saturday, August 9, 1:00-2:30PM
Seth Itzkan: Environmental futurist investigating climate mitigation through restorative grazing.
I will report from the Africa Center for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe, where grazing, in accordance with evolutionary patterns, is re-greening highly depleted landscapes: helping to provide sustainable food and water security while invariably sequestering carbon through new soil formation. Case studies and explanations provided.

Monitoring the Carbon Cycle on your Farm
Saturday, August 9, 3:00-4:30PM
Peter Donovan: Founder, Soil Carbon Challenge, monitoring soil changes across North America.
The cycling of carbon via photosynthesis (or lack thereof) affects both climate and soil fertility.  Participants will learn how observing these processes locally, with citizen-science and open-data approaches, can enable us to recognize and organize leadership to slow down carbon and water cycling for local and global benefits.

Harvesting your Cover Crop with Ruminants
Sunday, August 10, 8:00-9:30AM
Ridge Shinn: Grass-fed beef pioneer with special knowledge in bovine genetics.
Successfully finishing cattle on a forage-only diet requires understanding how to harvest energy from plants. Cover crops are a way to build soil quickly, and harvesting them with ruminants enhances their functionality. Learn how and why. People with some grazing experience will gain most.

132) Growing Clean Water: Topsoil & Water Security
Sunday, August 10, 10:00-11:30AM
Abe Collins: Helps producers and communities to achieve new soil outcomes.
Proper agricultural management can yield healthy, covered, aggregated, high organic matter topsoil, cost-effectively meeting society’s need for clean water and flood regulation. I’ll address: land managers’ leadership role, monitoring technologies and open data to accelerate and confirm progress, collaboration between farmers and other community leaders, and payment to farmers for producing clean water.

Nuts for the Northeast OLC,
Sunday, August 10, 1:00-2:30PM
Keith Morris: Grower, builder, and designer, creating ecologically regenerative and economically viable food
Nut trees and shrubs provide nutrient dense foods, other products, habitat, flood resilience, and can be ‘carbon-negative’. I’ll cover the ecology and mythology of nut trees suited to growing in the Northeast. We’ll cover breeding, trailing, and hybridizing for disease resistance, quality timber, oils, and medicinal properties.

Biological Management for Carbon Sequestration
Sunday, August 10, 3:00-4:30PM
Dan Kittredge: Working to build soil. Farmer, father, husband.3
How integrated practices of biological soil management effect carbon sequestration. What is the biological system, how does it work, and what can you do to help it work better, with a focus on building stable soil humus.

September 1 and 2, 2014, NOFA/Mass welcomes Dr. Christine Jones, an Australian soil biologist, researcher ( and international educator about carbon sequestration in the soil.   From Dr. Jones' essay “Farming for the Future”,  "There is much that can be done 'on the farm' to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon and nitrogen, increase soil water-holding capacity and change the climate- rather than being changed by it."  Come to one of these day-long workshops to learn with us and ask Dr. Jones your questions about soil carbon sequestration and how soils we depend on can be a climate change solution.
Details:  Mon. Sept.1 10:00am-4:00pm at Newton Community Farm, and Tues. Sept. 2, 10:00am-4:00pm  in Amherst. Participants can attend just one or both of these independent workshops.  More info and registration:   Practical Options for Food Production Resilience in an Increasingly Variable Climate.
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate: Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming First Conference and International Action Week November 2014 (
Promoting the power of nature to remove excess carbon from the atmosphere where it does untold damage, and restore it to the soils where it supports abundant life and reverses global warming.

Conference: November 21-23, 2014 Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, USA (near Boston) Co-sponsored by The Institute of the Environment (TIE) and The Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP) at the Fletcher School of Tufts University

Note: Speakers in [brackets] are not yet confirmed, and there are still speaker slots to be filled.  This is a draft program as of July 1, 2014, and subject to change.

Purpose and Overview of Conference
Adam Sacks, Executive Director, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
A brief introduction to reversing global warming with eco-restoration and the necessary steps along the way.

The Urgency and Basic Science of Soil Carbon
Tom Goreau, Climate and Soil Scientist, Restoration Biologist
An explanation of why is soil carbon so important, the role of plants and soil biota, the power of photosynthesis and living things as a driving force in the climate equation.

How Water Cools the Earth
Walter Jehne, Soil Scientist
A discussion of systemic interactions of biology, water, carbon, heat transfer and the practical applications of basic science in reversing global warming.

How Forests Store Carbon
Mark Leighton, Forest Ecologist
An explanation of how forest restoration and optimization fit into the climate puzzle.

Policy and Paradigms: Is Soil Carbon Sequestration “Real” Science?
William Moomaw, Climate Scientist and Policy Expert
A discussion of the obstacles to progress on addressing climate to date – from the perspective of narrow policy interests and the inability to think beyond failed prevailing preconceptions – and how to address them.

Policy in Action: A Carbon Tax
Gary Rucinski, Citizens Climate Lobby
An examination of political organizing to implement good climate policy.

A Brief Tour of the New Paradigms
Judith Schwartz, Journalist and Author, Cows Save the Planet
A description of the ways in which many land practitioners around the world are addressing ecosystem destruction and climate change – with healing and abundance.

The 40% Example: Healing Grasslands and Capturing Carbon
Seth Itzkan
How applications of Holistic Management and Holistic Planned Grazing applied to billions of acres worldwide can reverse global warming, how it works and what the controversy is about.

How Nature Teaches Us To Purify (water and other things)
Jim Laurie, Restoration Ecologist
An exploration of self-organizing natural systems where other creatures do 99% of the work to heal the earth, and do a far better job than we ever could – including fungi, bacteria, worms, prairie dogs, beavers and buffalo.

Carbon Drawdown: Biochar, Bamboo and the Marketplace
Charlotte O’Brien, Entrepreneur
Serial entrepreneur Charlotte O’Brien merges concerns for a healthy planet and a healthy economic system, and explores the true meaning of “sustainability.”

Restoring the Earth: The Contribution of Commerce
Steve Apfelbaum, Entrepreneur
Stories from decades of experience helping clients worldwide return damaged, degraded lands back to health and productivity.

Regenerative Agriculture in Action
Panel: Dan Kittredge, Dorn Cox, [Ridge Shinn], and others
Presentation by individual speakers and moderated discussion on supplementation with biochar, rock powders, and sea minerals; and managing land for balanced health and productivity and economic stability.

Healthy Soils, Healthy People, Healthy Planet
[Daphne Miller], Physician and Author, Farmacology and The Jungle Effect
The importance of soil health for human health and the connections with restoring a healthy climate.

Reversing Global Warming:The Organizing Challenge of the Ages
[Speaker TBD]
How do we get a planetary movement going – observations of a renowned movement organizer.

The Central Role of Indigenous Peoples
Candace Ducheneaux, Lakota Organizer
Stories from a Lakota grandmother of her efforts to unite indigenous nations and the millions of acres of land under their jurisdiction to restore damaged land, invigorate local economies and reverse global warming.

Cracking the Paradigm: Challenging the Message
Antje Danielson, Director, Tufts Institute of the Environment
The importance of messaging and thoughts of how to challenge the dominant paradigm that obscures our understanding of climate.

As stated, this a draft of the speakers list for the conference as of July 1, 2014.  Already there have been changes.  To get the most current information check the following links:
List of speakers

Cows Save the Planet - notes on a layperson's guide to a variety of soil carbon solutions

Holistic Management - notes on Allan Savory's text

Originally posted to gmoke on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 06:21 PM PDT.

Also republished by Boston Kossacks and New England Kossacks.


More ecological systems solutions for climate change?

100%18 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 18 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, eeff, GreyHawk, cotterperson, oortdust

    I appreciate hearing about these things.

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 06:50:28 PM PDT

  •  What a treasure trove. Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, gmoke

    This is exactly what I have been looking for.

    Babylon system is the vampire... ~Bob Marley

    by sfinx on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 07:33:11 PM PDT

  •  wow! so much going on with soils (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Some indigenous people have been farming for a thousand years

    •  Aboriginal Knowledge (0+ / 0-)
      The Central Role of Indigenous Peoples
      Candace Ducheneaux, Lakota Organizer
      Stories from a Lakota grandmother of her efforts to unite indigenous nations and the millions of acres of land under their jurisdiction to restore damaged land, invigorate local economies and reverse global warming.
      That's one talk that may address the knowledge base of indigenous peoples.  

      Terra Preta, also known as biochar, is  from the preColumbian tribal peoples of Brazil from 450 BCE and 950 CE.  There are some people who argue that the Amazonian rain forests are essentially human-created landscapes.

      Lots we can learn from our elders, the Grandmothers and Grandfathers we've ignored much too long.

      Lots more we can learn from the earth itself if we listen, if we ask.

  •  Just read (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, sfinx

    Some of this:

    The claim that five billion hectares of grassland can bring us back to pre-industrial carbon levels via reversing/stopping desertification (which is mostly caused by agriculture) is, well. Wow. But that's a lot of grassland.

     So the goal is 1 billion hactares of land by 2025. But at current rates of carbon output we'll be way past the tipping point by 2025 yes? And even reaching 1 billion hectares by 2025 would be a monumental effort. Globally, requiring, in most cases, quick returns (profits) for farmers. Everything has to be profitable you know.

    This would require massive funding and implementation by bodies such as World Bank in conjunction with various governments in the developing world or "global south" (tax dollars).  And in the meantime massive carbon capture/storage at the point of industrial production would still have to take place yes? Other industrial nations will have to quit coal (China/India) and at the same time development of developing nations will require more and more energy/fossil fuel production/consumption and the conversion of farmland and grasslands into urban centers. China is actually increasing its use of coal at the moment, even after the Copenhagen Accord. And USA's coal exports are increasing. And no meaningful amount of carbon capture/storage is taking place at the point of production.

     Capitalism has to keep expanding its productive forces in order to remain profitable. I guess my point is, although the revitalization of grasslands can obviously help doesn't it seem like, maybe, there's  systemic problem here? An economic system based on perpetual growth and a system where solutions to climate change rely on profitability? And look at India, India's development has actually been eating up farmland and grasslands for buildings, roads, homes etc. Development that takes place in modernized capitalist economies. And the Wold Bank's goal, the needed goal of our economic system, is to spread this sort of development. To everywhere. Under "free market" conditions, an ideology which scoffs at any sort of economic planning.  

     Overwhelming. There's SO MUCH that needs to be done.

  •  The hard fact of life for animal agriculture (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    systems and greenhouse gas emissions evaluation and control is that methane emissions intensity  -  the amount of methane emissions (mostly from enteric sources) per unit of market live-weight  --   overwhelmingly depends on the number of days necessary to bring animals to a market weight compared to all other factors.

    Greater number of days of animal growth to market weight means higher methane emission intensity.

    The collateral consequence for agriculture is that the most efficient, most rapidly producing and intensive  animal agriculture system will have the least methane and greenhouse gas emissions and emission intensity.

    •  Methane Management (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, methane management is key as are limiting short lived greenhouse substances like tropospheric ozone and black carbon.

      My understanding is that grass-fed livestock creates less methane emissions than corn-fed and that feed additives like garlic and basil can also reduce methane emissions from cows.  I know of at least one study that is carefully monitoring cattle and methane throughout the food production cycle but don't know when they'll have data available.

      •  You said: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yes, methane management is key as are limiting short lived greenhouse substances like tropospheric ozone and black carbon.
        No, methane management is not the key to controlling global warming because the aggregate effects of CO2 emissions have a much larger effect overall.   That makes CO2 emission reductions "key" and not methane management which, though important, is not as important as gaining CO2 reduction.   Methane control (or ozone or black carbon) is not a magic bullet to solving global warming problems.
        My understanding is that grass-fed livestock creates less methane emissions than corn-fed and that feed additives like garlic and basil can also reduce methane emissions from cows.  I know of at least one study that is carefully monitoring cattle and methane throughout the food production cycle but don't know when they'll have data available.
        Grazing animal agriculture system for beef cattle are considerably less efficient than concentrated grain-fed animal agriculture systems.  As a result, grazing systems have a higher greenhouse gas emission intensity because of considerably longer periods required to get the animals to market, thus significantly increasing enteric methane emissions per unit of market live weight production.
  •  Wonderful compilation, thanks! There's so much (0+ / 0-)

    that can/needs to be done.

    Rec'd tipped & hotlisted. :-)

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. ~The Druid.
    ~Ideals aren't goals, they're navigation aids.~

    by FarWestGirl on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 05:00:23 AM PDT

  •  would love to see webcast (0+ / 0-)

    Can this be done?  

    This is us governing. Live so that 100 years from now, someone may be proud of us.

    by marthature on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 07:55:19 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site