This article uses a lot of common sense and some scientific evidence. I address two related approaches.
Do you believe global warming is inevitable? Of course, it is, but we have got to pull ourselves together and work for all of humanity.
About fifteen years ago, I asked my grandfather, who pursued farming until the age of 87, why don’t we change from bio-animal dung (used for land fertilising) to chemical ones as they do not smell as bad. He says we do, but they [animal dungs] are better for the trees. As the government subsidies them at lower prices, everyone was using the chemical fertilising products. And guess what, my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer because he was exposed to a lot of chemicals that damaged his innocent brain. And I am pretty sure there are tens of thousands men like my grandfather around the globe. Lack of knowledge can cause such things, there is no other explanation for that.
Mankind never learns two things: first, not to repeat the same mistake, and second, to actually learn from that mistake.
When I started to develop a strong interest in climate change, desertification and how can we save the planet, or at least save mankind, I came to know about two men who reminded me of my grandfather and his passion to keep his farm as perfect as his beautiful well-shaped beard. The first man, Allan Savory, and the second is Tim Flannery. They are wise enough to teach what they have learnt to everyone. I address their approaches in this article.
The annoying part of climate change is that the change rate is not as clear as other environmental disturbances. That is when you see a freaking hurricane, you run away and save yourself. In the case of climate change, however, it is not you who will run away, it is actually your children who will, and the chance of them saving themselves depends on what you do for them today.
I wrote an introductory article about Climate Change and Global Warming, you can take a look here.
Let’s talk about the first approach.
HM is an approach set by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist, game ranger, politician, and farmer. He is the founder and president of Savory institute, click here to get an overview about it.
Savory’s view of climate change is somehow different from what you usually hear. He believes climate change happens because of mismanagement practices done by us, humans. Therefore, he thinks if we change the way we see the problem as well as the way we deal with it, then we will reverse climate change.
He does not blame fossil fuels nor livestock for causing the global warming. He sees fossil fuels and livestock as resources, and they would never cause warming the globe. Instead, the way humans managed them was the reason of the global warming. Therefore, decreasing carbon emission alone without fighting desertification will not solve the problem, a lot more work is needed to achieve the desired planet. Stay with me to get the full story.
In simple terms, holistic management (HM) is a values-based approach to decision making developed in the 1960s by Allan Savory. Savory was searching for ways to restore the Southern African savannah and its wildlife, which he surmised had been degraded by inappropriate management of grazing.
In a famous TED talk. Savory re-introduces this approach saying that this approach will reverse climate change. There is only one option left to climatologists and scientists, and that is to do the unthinkable: That is to use livestock punched and moving as a proxy for former herds and predators, and mimic nature. There is no other alternative left to mankind, Savory says. He also present some incredible work of places where he applied HM.
Was he correct? Well, scientists are skeptical about his method, but what matters the most is that he calls to mimic nature, that has to do with being natural, act natural and live natural. That is to restore what wildlife was about before humans dominated the planet.
A recent study published in 2020 concludes that “Quoting from the front page of the Savory Institute’s website, the claim is not that adopting HM practices increases forage, reduces desertification and fixes carbon, but rather that “Holistic Management is a process of decision-making and planning that gives people the insights and management tools needed to understand nature; resulting in better, more informed decisions that balance key social, environmental, and financial considerations.” The same study adds, In this sense, HM can be thought of as a “triple bottom line” approach to sustainable agriculture (Howell 2009).
Yeah, that sums up the debate, HM is a practice to achieve the ultimate goal. I noticed that Savory’s words were translated mistakenly that HM is the magic that will solve Climate Change. I see his words as a personal trainer telling the obese person to eat healthy and exercise consistently, then he will get in great shape again. The obese dude will never believe the personal trainer until he actually trains and eventually sees the results. Well, that takes time and a lot of efforts, so does HM.
Here comes the fossil fuels argument: Can we consume more of it? Most experts will say no, we have got to reduce the amount we burn at significant levels to save the planet. However, at the same time we reduce fossil fuel energy we also have to increase the natural tool of absorbing carbon from the atmosphere into the soil. And that it is to fight desertification at a large scale and save what is left. And that takes me to the second approach of fighting climate change: Seaweed.
According to Tim Flannery, an Australian outstanding scientist and expert in climate change, says that scientists tell us that we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 3% every year and draw three gigaton of CO2 out of the atmosphere every year for the next 80 years or so. He adds “those numbers are so large that they baffle us.”
Okay, so he is very concerned about this, and he says it himself that he has spent nights to find a solution to this crisis.
What Flannery is concerned about the most is that despite all the great scientific announcements that has been made saying how much danger we face with Climate change, as well as all the political meetings. Despite all of that, the trajectory of warming and greenhouse gas has never changed nor declined. Meaning that we have failed to slow down the speed of the climate change. And thus, we do need new approaches hoping to find a way that actually does the job well.
So, how might we go about drawing down greenhouse gases at a large scale?
Flannery explains that there are only two ways of doing so. There are chemical pathways and biological pathways.
Biological pathways are fantastic because the energy source that is needed to drive then, the sun, is effectively free. The sun is used to drive photosynthesis in plants which break apart that CO2 and capture the carbon.
Chemical pathways They sound ominous, but actually are not bad at all. The difficulty they face is that we have to actually pay for the energy that required to do the job or pay to facilitate that energy.
Direct air capture is a great example of a chemical pathway, but it will be many decades before those chemical pathways are drawing down a gigaton of CO2 a year. In fact, people are using it nowadays to take CO2 out of the atmosphere and manufacture biofuels or manufacture plastics. The biological pathways, however, offer us a lot more hope in the short term.
Back to the biological pathways, it is believed that they offer a lot more hope, Flannery thinks.
Solutions like reforestation and planting trees offer good results. Well, these solutions could help, but they take tens of years to do the job, also because the land surface is heavily utilised. So, the solution is to dive into the oceans. Oceans cover about 70 percent of the earth, they and play a big role in regulating the climate. Seaweed are different from trees so it could be more helpful in reducing larger amount of carbon out of the atmosphere. The reason why seaweed is more desirable to planting tress is because it does not have nonproductive parts like roots and barks, it almost all photosynthetic, click here to know what that means.
So, if we can enhance the growth of seaweed, they would be used to develop a climate-altering crop. The scalability is the fantastic thing about seaweed farming approach. If we could cover only nine percent of the world’s ocean in seaweed farms, we could draw down the equivalent of the greenhouse gasses we put up in one year, which is more than 50 gigaton. Well, 9% of the ocean surface is about 4 and half the size of Australia.
How many ocean-going seaweed farms do we actually have out there? ZERO!
Flannery discusses that seaweed grows really fast so the carbon that is part of it can help. Seaweed can grow a meter a day. So, all we need to do when it fully grown is to cut that seaweed off, drifts it into the ocean abyss. Once it is down a kilometer. The carbon in that seaweed is effectively out of the atmospheric system for a long, long time. He says that we are not really sure what problems will arise yet, but we will learn by doing.
Overconsumption of fossil fuels, over-population and desertification combined altogether were the primary reasons behind the rapid increase of the global warming. There are other reasons, of course, but these reasons represent pretty much the whole picture about climate change. So, in order to solve what has been done, we need to regulate and correct our mistakes one by one, for a better future.