Stop the blame game, let’s find climate change solutions | Golden – Reno Gazette Journal
Researcher Rose Petersky explains how climate change threatens snowpack in the Great Basin. Benjamin Spillman, email@example.com
Does it really matter if global warming/climate change is human-caused, as some claim; or the result of natural warming and cooling cycles that have been occurring for the past 60,000 years, according to others?
Is winning the debate about whether CO2 is a catastrophic fossil-fuel-generated global warming poison, or the essential life-giving element we learned about in our middle school biology classes, really what matters?
Instead of assessing blame, shouldn’t we be working to find solutions to global warming?
Scientists from all areas of biology are discovering that vast amounts of CO2 can be rapidly, easily and profitably pulled into living soils in the process of healing nature. Soil sequestration (storing CO2 in soils, where it supports all living functions) is real and a natural part of photosynthesis. Expanding our ability to absorb more CO2 in the soil can mean less pollution and excess carbon buildup in the atmosphere. They have found that changing management that regenerates soil can place huge tonnages of atmospheric CO2 back into our nation’s soil while increasing food production and species diversity.
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Does this all sound too good to be true? Can humans, who many claim have created global warming, be part of the solution? It appears our nation’s farmers and ranchers — not our bureaucrats, environmentalists or politicians — are the humans with the skills, tools and know-how to do just that. Best of all, they can do it while still providing essential protein to our nation’s food supply.
In times past, grazing herbivores were the catalyst that created carbon absorbing grasslands and rangelands with their hooves, defecation, grazing and movement patterns. Buffalo and abundant wildlife played a key role in the creation of the deep rich soils of the Midwest and early West. Today, herds of properly managed livestock, primarily cattle and sheep, have proven that they also can produce the same regeneration of productive rangeland soils that can bring back the healthy native grasses and forbes needed for carbon sequestration.
New science is increasingly learning that the “leave it alone” philosophy to manage our forests and rangelands is not valid. We humans can battle global warming. We just have to change the prevailing attitude that we should leave nature alone to heal itself. We don’t have time for that. Soil restoration in arid and semi-arid climates need livestock to assist in the process. We have the responsibility to return them to the land.
Utah’s legislature has implemented a concurrent resolution on carbon sequestration on rangelands that calls on the federal government to fully implement soil carbon sequestration on federal land. In a Deseret News op-ed (“Utah leads out on win-win solution to climate controversy,” April 17, 2015), Utah representative and biologist Mike Noel paraphrased the language of the resolution: “Through enhancing the natural process of photosynthesis and plant growth, healthy, well-managed farms, forests and rangelands can sequester vast amounts of atmospheric carbon for very long periods of time.”
An outstanding example of this is the work of the South African, Allan Savory. His use of grazing animals to reverse desertification and regenerate the land has been remarkable. Since 1984 his planned grazing management strategy has resulted in the return of 20 million acres of carbon absorbing healthy rangeland on six continents. Hundreds of ranchers and farmers on this continent have joined Savory and others in creating similar ways to implement regenerative agriculture.
Additionally, the BLM and Nevada ranchers are working together on a pilot outcome-based grazing program that also uses timely, managed livestock grazing to both rehabilitate our rangelands and help prevent catastrophic wildfires. All agree; more livestock are needed for maximum restoration and rangeland fire prevention.
Let’s start thinking outside the box. We need more cattle and sheep grazing our rangelands, not less. We need to shift from blaming livestock and ranching for causing the degradation of public lands and recognize that when properly managed, they are the key ingredient that can put atmospheric CO2 where it belongs.
Dennis Golden, a Reno resident, produces documentaries on ranching and rural Nevada.
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