The Paris Climate Conference (known as COP21) is finally taking place, bringing with it that strange mix of hope mingled with despair. Everyone seems to have his or her own personal agenda (including me) for how the conference should play out—and how we can save ourselves from a climate disaster.
Organizations from all over the globe are bringing to Paris their diverse messages about what should be done: from renewable energy to nuclear; from eating no meat to eating less meat; from super-high-tech solutions to going back to simpler ways. Unfortunately, many leaders are still thinking 20 years out when it comes to climate change—as if we have all the time in the world. And while each of the solutions proposed at COP21 might be essential in the long run, none of them alone is enough RIGHT NOW to make a difference.
However, there is one thing that we can do RIGHT NOW that can not only reverse climate change, but also let all the players pursue their own agendas in peace. We must and can immediately restore the soil’s ability to store carbon. It’s pretty simple, actually. And it’s proven to work.
Here are 5 ways to make that happen right now:
1. Transition all agriculture to organic regenerative agriculture. Numerous studieshave shown that organic agriculture restores the ability of the soil to store carbon. Not only is organic agriculture both productive and profitable, but it’s also healthier for everyone, and it doesn’t use petroleum-based fertilizers and chemicals. Note, keeping the soil covered in plant life at all times is essential to carbon storage. That means cover crops! Oh, and bonus: People around the world are demanding organic, so there’s a giant market for what organic regenerative agriculture produces that is just waiting to be filled. (By the way, that means raising animals organically and using as much high tech as you want.)
2. Protect and preserve all wilderness areas, especially forests. Nature knows what to do—forests naturally store tons of carbon. Forests model what agriculture is learning: that nature knows how to protect itself and us if we protect the patterns enabling plants, trees, insects, fungus, birds, and animals to do the work to store carbon.
3. Plant more trees, forests, and gardens. No space should be left bare. Every open space is an opportunity to store carbon in the form of plants, trees, gardens, and healthy soil. Be it by planting a garden or by letting something go wild and “back to nature,” the important thing is to allow the soil to build and grow and do its work.
4. Stop using all synthetic chemicals on lawns and gardens. Seriously, there is absolutely no need to use chemicals (like Roundup) except to assuage an ego or to make things a little bit easier. But it’s the kind of easy that makes things harder in the long run. In order for nature to store carbon, it must be free of toxins that kill the life in the soil. That means no herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, pesticides, or artificial fertilizers.
5. Compost. Take your veggie and fruit food waste and your lawn and leaf litter and pile them up in a corner of your yard. Let stuff grow in it and over it. Keep the pile growing, and you’ll be making more healthy soil that stores carbon.
If it all seems too simple, let me assure you, it’s very, very hard to get to simple. This “simple” solution has grown out of decades of scientific research, experimentation, and practical application.
Every single person can do something to make this reversal happen. Every meal you eat, every food item you buy, and every thing you do in your yard can be an essential part of the solution to reversing climate change.
We know what to do. NOW, LET’S DO IT!
Besides—as an added bonus—doing all these things will make us healthier, too.