Globalist Warming Denial & the Green New Deal

Jerry Russell

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The NYT supposedly posted an article in the last few days that severe drought is an additional motivating factor, besides criminal gangs, for people to abandon the countries south of Mexico to come the USA.
One from last month...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/13/world/americas/coffee-climate-change-migration.html

The challenges of agricultural life in Honduras have always been mighty, from poverty and a neglectful government to the swings of international commodity prices.
But farmers, agricultural scientists and industry officials say a new threat has been ruining harvests, upending lives and adding to the surge of families migrating to the United States: climate change.
And their worries are increasingly shared by climate scientists as well.
Gradually rising temperatures, more extreme weather events and increasingly unpredictable patterns — like rain not falling when it should, or pouring when it shouldn’t — have disrupted growing cycles and promoted the relentless spread of pests.
And this, from last week, touching on climate change among many other causes:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/books/review/suketu-mehta-this-land-is-our-land.html

Book review -- "This Land is Our Land"
“This Land Is Our Land” reads like an impassioned survey course on migration, laying bare the origins of mass migration in searing clarity. To the question of why a migrant left home yesterday or last month, one such person might answer: gang violence, drought, floods, war, lack of income. Mehta travels back further, to deeper, more distant causes; the global North’s fingerprints are everywhere.
The book makes a convincing argument that contemporary migration is a direct descendant of colonialism. Europeans and Americans stole gold, silver, cash crops and human beings from the places people are now fleeing en masse. People migrate, Mehta says, “because the accumulated burdens of history have rendered their homelands less and less habitable.” Put another way, “They are here because you were there.” (Though one might wonder who this “you” is — the assumed reader of this book. Do migrants not also read?)
How to quantify what is owed? Mehta offers some numbers to get us started. The amount of silver shipped between 1503 and the early 1800s “would amount to a debt of $165 trillion that Europe owes Latin America today.” This pattern of extraction has not waned with time, nor has the mass violence it facilitates. Mehta reports that every day 700 guns cross the United States border into Mexico, where they are sold for triple the price back home. To say nothing of climate change: Wealthy countries’ enrichment is destroying the planet, hitting the poorest countries hardest of all.
 

Jerry Russell

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$165 trillion? Where is all this silver today? Or is this including interest?
Good question. I guess I should know better than to quote the NY Times. Although I don't doubt that the actual accumulated amount is vast, including inflation & interest.

FWIW, I believe the majority of silver that's ever been mined, has been lost to various industrial uses.
 

Suchender

Member
But, there's very little doubt that increased CO2 levels are causing increased temperatures and also increased amounts of water vapor in the air..... [Un]fortunately, if we wait long enough for definitive statistical proof of a trend towards crop failure caused by bad weather, the problem could easily also cause a collapse of the world economy owing to increased food prices, food riots, and so forth.
1) What is the optimal temperature on our planet ? The current temperature ? Or is it +2 higher, or -2 lower ?

2) What is the optimal CO2 level on our planet ? 400 parts per million (ppm) at the current time ? Or is it 280-300 ppm like during interglacial period ? Or is it 180-210 ppm like during the ice age, when it was almost impossible for all life forms to survive ??

Without knowing the optimal level and temperature how can we think of a 'solution' to a 'problem' which may not 409be a problem at all !?

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/06/30/life-on-earth-was-nearly-doomed-by-too-little-co2/
....The Ice Age’s combined horrors – intense cold, permanent drought and CO2 starvation – killed most of the plants on Earth. Only a few trees survived, in the mildest climates. Much of the planet’s grass turned to tundra, which is much less nourishing to the herbivores prehistoric humans depended on for food and fur. Recent Cambridge University studies conclude that only about 100,000 humans were left alive worldwide when the current interglacial warming mercifully began.....
 

Richard Stanley

Administrator
It seems that we are coming, one way or the other, to the point warned about by Brian Fagan is his The Long Summer, where civilizations will be crushed by changes to weather and climate. I guess unless we can figure out the complex feedback loops and such and control them (if this 'reverse' terraforming is even possible).

Here's what Ellis (Ralph) had to say (see my red highlight):

1. Introduction
Since the discovery of ice-age cycles almost two centuries ago, a large amount of geological evidence has been assembled from a variety of sources, and many different hypotheses have been advanced to account for their approximate 100 kyr periodicity and asymmetric, saw-tooth temperature response. Improved calculations of Milankovitch insolation cycles and greater precision of Antarctic ice-core records demonstrate that each major deglaciation coincides with maximum summer insolation in the northern hemisphere. And yet many of the other insolation maxima only trigger minor warming events, and so interglacials only occur after four or five insolation cycles. No generally accepted explanation exists for this peculiar intermittent climate response, and any comprehensive explanation for ice-age modulation and periodicity has to be able to explain this anomaly.
The answer to this conundrum can be found in a novel reanalysis of the effects of decreasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations during an ice-age. Ice age CO2 reductions coincide with an increase in ice sheet extent and therefore an increase in global albedo, and this should result in further cooling of the climate. But what actually happens is that when CO2 reaches a minimum and albedo reaches a maximum, the world rapidly warms into an interglacial. A similar effect can be seen at the peak of an interglacial, where high CO2 and low albedo results in cooling. This counterintuitive response of the climate system also remains unexplained, and so a hitherto unaccounted for agent must exist that is strong enough to counter and reverse the classical feedback mechanisms.
The answer to both of these conundrums lies in glacial dust, which was deposited upon the ice sheets towards the end of each glacial maximum. Previous research has considered two effects of this aeolian dust on the glacial climate: the increased albedo of atmospheric dust cooling the climate, and the mineral fertilization of marine life reducing atmospheric CO2. But both of these effects would result in a cooling feedback, and therefore provide no explanation for the interglacial warming that appears to result from dust deposition. In great contrast to these explanations it is proposed here that during the glacial maximum, CO2 depletion starves terrestrial plant life of a vital nutrient and causes a die-back of upland forests and savannahs, resulting in widespread desertification and soil erosion. The resulting dust storms deposit large amounts of dust upon the ice sheets and thereby reduce their albedo, allowing a much greater absorption of insolation. Up to 180 W/m2 of increased absorption can be provided to the northern ice sheets, when calculated seasonally and regionally instead of annually and globally.
This dramatic increase in insolation and absorption results in melting and dissipation of the northern ice sheets, and the establishment of a short interglacial period. Ice ages are therefore forced by orbital cycles and Milankovitch insolation, but regulated by ice-albedo and dust-albedo feedbacks. And the warming effects of dust-ice albedo are counterintuitively caused by a reduction in global temperatures and a corresponding reduction in CO2 concentrations. And while this proposal represents a reversal of conventional thinking it does explain each and every facet of the glacial cycle, and all of the many underlying mechanisms that control its periodicity and temperature excursions and limitations.

I was just reading that a new 405K year Milankovitch cycle has been discovered in ancient lake sediments of New Jersey and Arizona. New Jersey is where the prior cycles have been confirmed as well. In this case, the effects in sediment can be traced back 200 million years. The following is the conclusion to an article about it:

...
Kent and Olsen say that because of all the competing factors at work, there is still much to learn. “This is truly complicated stuff,” said Olsen. “We are using basically the same kinds of math to send spaceships to Mars, and sure, that works. But once you start extending interplanetary motions back in time and tie that to cause and effect in climate, we can’t claim that we understand how it all works.” The metronomic beat of the 405,000-year cycle may eventually help researchers disentangle some of this, he said.
If you were wondering, the Earth is currently in the nearly circular part of the 405,000-year period. What does that mean for us? “Probably not anything very perceptible,” says Kent. “It’s pretty far down on the list of so many other things that can affect climate on times scales that matter to us.” Kent points out that according to the Milankovitch theory, we should be at the peak of a 20,000-some year warming trend that ended the last glacial period; the Earth may eventually start cooling again over thousands of years, and possibly head for another glaciation. “Could happen. Guess we could wait around and see,” said Kent. “On the other hand, all the CO2 we’re pouring into the air right now is the obvious big enchilada. That’s having an effect we can measure right now. The planetary cycle is a little more subtle.”

Of course, some scientists have been concerned that non-linear feedback effects could trigger a rapid cooling via such as the shutting down of the thermohaline cycle in the Atlantic.

Trump said we should be raking our forest floors, but maybe we should be feather-dusting our glaciers?
 
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Jerry Russell

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Staff member
1) What is the optimal temperature on our planet ? The current temperature ? Or is it +2 higher, or -2 lower ?
Hi Suchender,

The reason why the current situation is considered optimal, is simply because the existing ecosystems and forms of life on earth have evolved & adapted to it. Our industrial world-wide agricultural system is also finely tuned to our existing climate.

And since the climate is always changing, ecosystems also have an ability to adapt to change. The swings between cycles of ice ages and interglacials have not caused mass extinctions, because the changes are slow enough that the plants & animals migrate to find suitable habitat.

I think the quote from "what's up" is a little misleading where it says that the Ice Age killed most of the plants on Earth. It's probably true that the amount of living biomass went down, but most species survived.

What's happening to the climate now is scary mostly because of the extremely high speed of changes.
 

Suchender

Member
What's happening to the climate now is scary mostly because of the extremely high speed of changes.
I just came back from a cherry orchard and the cherry quality is really bad :-(
I hope it will get a bit warmer this year to improve this years cherry crop !
This may was way too cold !
411
 

Jerry Russell

Administrator
Staff member
Ralph Ellis said:
Ice ages are therefore forced by orbital cycles and Milankovitch insolation, but regulated by ice-albedo and dust-albedo feedbacks. And the warming effects of dust-ice albedo are counterintuitively caused by a reduction in global temperatures and a corresponding reduction in CO2 concentrations. And while this proposal represents a reversal of conventional thinking it does explain each and every facet of the glacial cycle, and all of the many underlying mechanisms that control its periodicity and temperature excursions and limitations.
It's possible that Ralph could be correct in his claims here about the cause of the recurring glacial cycles of the Pleistocene era. It's entirely possible that changes in CO2 were driven by the Milankovitch cycle and changes in albedo, as he says.

But that doesn't mean that a massive change in CO2 isn't also capable of acting as a driving factor. It just means that we can't expect the scenario to unfold in the same relatively slow & benign fashion as our recent glacial cycles.

Alarmingly enough, according to Peter Brannen in "The Ends of the World": perhaps the closest ancient analog to our modern global warming episode, is the end-Permian extinction event, about 250 million years ago. At that time, massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia covered the area with 2 million square miles of lava up to two and a half miles deep, while releasing at least 10,000 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere. Temperatures jumped by 16 degrees celsius. It's possible that 500-mph hyper-hurricanes loaded with sulfur dioxide swept across the sea and barren landscapes. An estimated 95% of life on Earth was wiped out, although I'm mystified as to how anything survived at all.

"Is it happening again?" asks paleontologist Peter Ward: "Most of us think so..."

How do we get there from here? It's obviously a long way. But the concern is that a chain reaction of positive feedbacks could be initiated, and indeed might already be underway. Melting sea ice in the arctic leads to more uncovered ocean, absorbing more heat.. which will then melt the ice on Greenland, uncovering more land and absorbing more heat... leading to melting permafrost, releasing more carbon and supercharging the greenhouse effect. Forests burn to the ground, releasing more carbon, and microbes in the parched earth die and release more carbon.

There are a lot of radical climatologists & paleontologists who are bitterly upset with the IPCC and other UN and diplomatic proceedings, because they don't discuss these possible positive feedback effects, and they don't discuss projections past the year 2100. On the contrary, they create a false sense of security by promising that the situation can be controlled if we enact a system of carbon credits. It's possible that we create a fascist government, give all our money to Al Gore and/or Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez, and still wind up frying in the greenhouse.

I hope it will get a bit warmer this year to improve this years cherry crop !
This may was way too cold !
As paradoxical as it might seem, the cold weather in North America this spring might be directly related to the warm weather in the Arctic Circle, causing a breakdown in the usual tight circulation of the polar vortex. See:

https://theconversation.com/how-frigid-polar-vortex-blasts-are-connected-to-global-warming-110653
 

Jerry Russell

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I've been marinating myself in "Global Warming and Climate Change" papers, blogs and videos over the last few days, trying to get a grip on the topic. And after all of that, I'm sure I still have a lot to learn.

Based on all this reading, there are some facts that I feel comfortable with. (In Rumsfeld's terms, these are the Known Knowns).

(1) There was a period from about 2000 to 2014, when the increase in global average temperatures slowed down dramatically, if not completely ground to a halt. But since 2014, the upward march has resumed with a vengeance, matching or exceeding the longer term trend.

(2) The atmospheric concentration of CO2 has continued its upward exponential trend. The concentration of methane had also been increasing exponentially since the start of the industrial revolution, but paused strangely from about 2000 to 2007, and has also resumed an alarming upward trend.

(3) Sea ice has been melting dramatically in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Antarctic ice shelves have calved and disappeared.

(4) Ocean heat content and acidity (dissolved CO2) have continued an upward march.

(5) The rate of extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes, hot and cold temperature extremes, and droughts, has been increasing.

(6) It's true that the climate is always changing, and is driven by many factors. But the changes listed above have happened in a blink of an eye, in terms of geological time. Aside from asteroid impacts, the climate has never changed at any speed remotely approximating this rate of change. The increase in CO2 in the ocean & atmosphere, is fully explained by human combustion of fossil fuels, and the other effects are obviously correlated. Other factors like solar radiation are relatively stable.

So I conclude that the reported ~97% of scientists who support the man-made global warming hypothesis, must be basically correct. (Sorry, Suchender!)

Of course, within that 97% consensus, there's a lot of diversity of opinion. Here are some "Known Unknowns" (that is, effects that seem very real and clearly defined, but there's no consensus about their magnitude, or how they will unfold). In order of my judgment of importance:

(1) There's only one research team that has been persistently doing field work on arctic methane hydrates and permafrost, and that's the Russian team headed by Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov. After some 40 expeditions, they say that methane is being released from the warming arctic region now, at a rate of 8 to 17 metric megatonnes per year. That's significant, but could be equivalent to as little as ~240 megatonnes of CO2, compared to 36 Gigatonnes of annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel consumption.

What's scary is that Shakhova & Semiletov have steadfastly insisted that this slow, steady flow could explode to a sudden release of 50 Gigatonnes (that is, a rate almost 1000 times faster) or maybe even more. And they've studied and described the structure of these methane deposits in great detail, and clearly described the mechanisms by which such a sudden release could happen. But they're just as steadfast with their insistence that it might NOT happen, and that more research is needed.

So far, every Western scientist who is in a position to care about their paycheck, seems to be saying that this is poppycock. There are rumors that privately, Shakhova has been denounced at the IPCC as not only groundlessly alarmist, but also female, Russian or both.

On the other hand, there's more of a tendency among mavericks (retired scientists, independent bloggers etc.) to treat this Arctic methane explosion as a virtual certainty. If so, this could easily double the existing rate of global warming, if not more.

(2) Industrial activities (most importantly, airlines and coal burning) put aerosols into the atmosphere. The aerosols reflect sunlight back to space, and thus act in opposition to greenhouse gas effects. If industrial civilization suddenly ground to a halt, it's believed that the aerosols would quickly settle out, and there would be a sudden increase in greenhouse heating. But, estimates of the amount of warming that would result, range from 0.25 degrees C, all the way up to 3 degrees C. Again, if the truth is in the higher range, any drop in economic activity could cause massive immediate increases in the rate of global climate change. Whereas, the effect of reduced CO2 emissions would unfold over a longer time frame.

(3) Changes in greenhouse gas levels (as well as solar effects) cause immediate changes in the earth's heat balance. But how quickly do such changes continue to translate into changes in temperature, as the atmosphere, ocean and earth react to the energy flow? Some atmospheric temperature reaction could be almost instantaneous, while the ocean and earth could continue warming for anywhere from 10 to 40 years or more, resulting in additional atmospheric temperature change. Thus, it's poorly understood how much ongoing climate change is already "baked in the cake" as a result of fossil fuel consumption that's already happened.

(4) Glaciers, and the Greenland ice cap, seem to be melting faster than expected by IPCC climate models. But it's not clear if the discrepancy is a linear factor, or whether the ice melt is increasing exponentially. Of course this makes a big difference in predictions of sea level rise.

(5) Water vapor is now generally agreed to be a positive feedback factor, with high temperatures leading to increased atmospheric H2O. Clouds, on the other hand, are negative feedback factors due to albedo, leading to some confusion & controversy. With so many variable factors, climate modeling is still a black art. There's no agreement about the relative importance of CO2, methane and water vapor as greenhouse agents.

(6) As warming continues, it's highly likely that patterns of global air & ocean circulation will change. So, local weather patterns will be changing. But there's no way to predict when or how, or what the effects will be. There are lots of theories about things that might happen.
 
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Jerry Russell

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Based on all the above, there's a wide range of estimates as to what might happen.

Here's one scenario, from a paper entitled "Existential Climate-Related Security Risk" by David Spratt & Ian Dunlop, with a forward by Admiral Chris Barrie (Australian Royal Navy retired). Dunlop is with the Club of Rome, so we can probably consider this as straight from the Illuminati. At any rate it seems very plausible to me, based on extrapolations of current trends, and with a very modest degree of acceleration according to the scenarios in the "Known Unknowns" listed above.

The authors predict 3 degrees C of warming by 2050 (up from about 1.2 degrees now) and 0.5 meters of sea level rise. Under those conditions, they say that 35% of the global land area (in the tropics) would be subject to lethal temperatures during most summers. Much prime agricultural land in the Mediterranean, west Asia, Australia and the US would be subject to desertification, leading to plummeting food supplies. The coral reefs and the Amazon rain forest would completely collapse. Low lying areas of many coastal cities would be abandoned, and ten percent of Bangladesh would be inundated.

And this would be just a stepping stone along the way to at least 5 degrees of warming by 2100.

In his consideration of the "Known Unknowns", Guy McPherson tends to always assume the most extreme possible outcome, unfolding at the earliest possible opportunity. Based on that, in a 2017 article "Faster than Expected", he predicted that an ice-free Arctic would occur in 2019, and that the 50 Gigaton methane release would occur simultaneously. By the following spring, agricultural production would collapse, along with global civilization. Global dimming would cease, and temperatures would soar 6 degrees C above baseline. By 2026, McPherson says, the last human will run out of canned beans in his survival bunker.

McPherson has caught a lot of flack for his doomsday predictions. But, I noticed one comment at McPherson's youtube channel, who said he doesn't care if McPherson gets the date wrong. If functional human extinction occurs in 2030 or even 2050, how is that a problem? McPherson is one of a very few people who are saying that Global Warming is an existential threat in the near term future, and furthermore that there's nothing that can be done to stop it.

McPherson has also been harshly criticized for his abandonment of all hope. Many others who write or speak about the Climate Change Emergency, including some with extremely dire views such as Dahr Jamail, Michael Mann, Paul Beckwith, and David Wallace-Wells, are still saying that "we" can fix this.

Some people think that the Green New Deal program should do the trick. That is, reinventing our industrial system as quickly as humanly possible, to utilize renewable energy sources (solar, wind, hydro, nuclear etc.) and to abandon fossil fuels.

Others feel that renewable energy is an unworkable fantasy, or too little too late. And furthermore, it doesn't address a host of other issues: habitat loss, resource depletion, toxics, plastic waste, and many others. From a "Deep Green" perspective, the only real solution is a return to simpler ways of life.

Still others look to geoengineering solutions: space-based solar reflector panels, industrial scale greenhouse gas scrubbers, phytoplankton blooms, white pigments on mountaintops, or just plain old chemtrails.

I myself believe that "we" could certainly fix this, if "we" could respond in a mature, scientific fashion. Some combination of "Green New Deal" infrastructure, geoengineering, and lifestyle changes, could in principle bring the world back into survivable condition.

But unfortunately, "we" are being ruled over by psychopathic billionaires and apocalyptic cultists. And furthermore, "we" have been lulled virtually into a coma by mass media escapist entertainments, and utterly confused by fake news. So, none of those perfectly reasonable solutions are going to be implemented in a reasonable time frame. And furthermore, if global warming doesn't get us, fascism and/or nuclear war will.

I am still hoping that Postflaviana will go viral, and everyone will suddenly be enlightened.

But what I'm planning on, is to be one of the ones left alive in a bunker. And after Western civilization is gone, I'm planning to look around, and band together with other survivors, and rebuild. Who needs natural habitat, and a functioning ecosystem? I mean, it can't possibly be any worse than building a Mars colony.

Edited 6/14, replacing unwarranted generalizations with specifics
 
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Jerry Russell

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Allan Savory is talking about a grazing system that replicates the behavior of ancient grazing animals, which lived in densely packed herds, stalked by predators, and always on the move from day to day. Under such pressure, the herd takes the first bite of grass of all species within a patch of pasture, and then moves on.

Whereas with typical modern grazing practices, the animals are simply left to roam within a fenced area, safe from predators. Under these circumstances, they feast on their favorite grasses and nibble them down to the nubs. Meanwhile, they leave the unpalatable weeds to grow unmolested. (The definition of a weed in a pasture, is a grass that cows don't like.) Eventually the tasty grass is wiped out completely. The weeds grow tall and then bend over, and are still left in the field next spring to block new growth. Finally the weeds die too, and you're left with a patch of desert.

Or, as an alternative, farmers grow grain in their fields, and give it to cattle in feedlots. This results in unhealthy cows, and meat products that are high in saturated fats that cause heart disease. And the fields aren't subject to immediate desertification, but they do need a lot of inputs of fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, and tractor work. And while the fields are bare, they're subject to erosion from rain or wind. Eventually the fertility deteriorates, and dependency on fertilizer increases.

In the video, Savory starts by saying that "almost everybody knows" that desertification is caused by overgrazing livestock. And this is absolutely true, unless (as Savory advocates) the farmer uses best practices to prevent overgrazing, and replicate the complete ecosystem of the ancient prairie.

Joel Salatin, a very famous organic farmer in American permaculture circles, promotes a similar "rotational grazing" scheme. Unfortunately, he doesn't do nearly as good a job of explaining why it works, or how it prevents and reverses the process of desertification. Wikipedia quotes Salatin saying "History will vindicate Allan Savory as one of the greatest ecologists of all time."

In Salatin's version, we've been aware of this idea for years, and we've been making a very half-hearted and unsophisticated attempt to implement here at our 7-acre farm outside Eugene, Oregon. So far it hasn't been working out very well. The problem is that the grass goes dormant all winter, and then suddenly explodes with growth in the early spring. The cows are on hay for the winter, but when there's finally grass available in the field, they can't keep up. A month or two later, the grass is already bolting and going to seed on most of the pasture. Right now (late June) we have four acres that the cows haven't even gotten to yet, and it's all turning to straw. In another week or two, the cows will be back on alfalfa from the feed store.

We haven't really mastered the art of getting the cows to eat weeds. They moo and whine and look cute, and Janet takes pity on them. So they're always eating ice cream grass, as long as we have any in the pasture.

I think we'll buy Savory's books, and see if we get any better ideas how to make this work.

As noted at Wikipedia, Savory's scheme has been greeted with some skepticism, at least among academic agriculture professor types. It seems they're having trouble replicating Savory's results. My guess is that this is because there's no one simple formula to make it work. It probably takes careful observation and a lot of work to successfully replicate an ancient ecosystem, and every situation and location has its own challenges.

Also, the idea that grasslands could soak up all the carbon from fossil fuel use, seems pretty unlikely. But it's an important and very practical tool for carbon sequestration, along with re-forestation of mountainous and boreal areas, and cultivation of algae, seaweed and phytoplankton in the open oceans.
 

Jerry Russell

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Sadly, I am a very bad farmer. And not such a great carbon sequestration wizard, either.

But: more cows, goats, sheep and sheepdogs would mean a bigger feed bill for the winter. These cows are already eating enough cash to maintain an orphanage in Nigeria.

Another typical answer to this problem, is to make hay from the unused portion of the pasture. But that takes expensive machinery. Or else I'd need to take the spring off from blogging, and work at scything and bundling.
 

Jerry Russell

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Staff member
I think we'll buy Savory's books, and see if we get any better ideas how to make this work.
After skimming through, I think I understand the secret formula. The cows have got to go out and eat those dried up weeds. They need to rotate around so that they visit each part of the acreage once or twice a year, rain or shine.

Doesn't matter how unhappy they are about it. Sucks to be a cow. Or if they won't do it, they get replaced by goats.

Also, the idea that grasslands could soak up all the carbon from fossil fuel use, seems pretty unlikely.
I've been trying to quantify this. Realclimate.org has one of the skeptical reviews cited by Wikipedia. They quote Savory's claim from the TED talk as follows:

“…people who understand far more about carbon than I do calculate that for illustrative purposes, if we do what I’m showing you here, we can take enough carbon out of the atmosphere and safely store it in the grassland soils for thousands of years, and if we just do that on about half the world’s grasslands that I’ve shown you, we can take us back to pre-industrial levels while feeding people."
The authors at Realclimate (Jason West and David Briske) go on to argue that since the amount of extra carbon in the atmosphere is 240 gigatonnes, and the amount of carbon sequestered in vegetation is 450 gigatonnes. And furthermore, they say, the amount of carbon that can be sequestered in the soil is primarily controlled by soil water availability, rather than grazing strategy. So, they conclude, "It is simply unreasonable to expect that any management strategy, even if implemented on all of the planet’s grasslands, would yield such a tremendous increase in carbon sequestration."

What West and Briske are missing here, is that the total carbon content of world soils could be as much as 1600 gigatons. About 37% of the earth's surface is grassland (including arable farmland), 31% is forest, and I believe the remainder is mountainous wasteland, desert, tundra and permafrost. So it seems reasonable to guess that half of that 1600 gigatons is in grassland. Savory's quote mentions "half the world's grasslands", whose carbon content is then estimated at 400 gigatonnes. So to sequester an additional 240 gigatonnes, would require a 60% increase.

At the savory.global website, there is a FAQ that claims "In one study we have seen a 400% increase in permanent soil carbon on land under Holistic Planned Grazing, relative to the neighboring land managed conventionally." Unfortunately, there's no link to the study. And there's another claim on that same FAQ, that "For each 1% increase in soil organic matter achieved on the world’s 5 billion hectares of grasslands, 64 ppm of carbon dioxide would be removed from atmospheric circulation", which I believe is clearly wrong based on the above-cited estimates. When I do the math, I get an estimate of 4 ppm of CO2 removed from the atmosphere, for each 1% increase in soil organic matter in grassland worldwide.

But considering the before-and-after pictures shown in the TED talk and at Savory's website, the idea of an increase in the range of 60% to 400% in sequestered carbon, doesn't seem impossible. A big part of the strategy is to improve water retention, by reducing runoff and evaporation, so West and Briske's point about soil moisture is actually a major factor in the potential success of Savory's grazing technology.

So far, Savory has managed to convince about 5,000 ranchers managing 9 million hectares, to adopt his management plan. That leaves about 4.991 billion hectares to go. And the process of converting sunshine to organic carbon and then sequestering into the soil can take decades if not longer.

So if this is our plan to save the world, we'd better hurry up.

Also, note that degradation of grasslands has been going on at least since the quaternary megafaunal extinctions, and since indigenous ancient humans took to managing grassland by fire. Maybe this is why we aren't in an ice age already.

And the desertification process could easily accelerate. So far, mankind is notorious as a desertifying species. Rapid global warming could easily create unsurvivable conditions for local grass species. Unless people are smart enough to bring in grass seed of species suitable to warmer weather, the grasslands will die. This would release much of the estimated 1600 gigatonnes of carbon still stored in grasslands as of now.
 
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Richard Stanley

Administrator
After skimming through, I think I understand the secret formula. The cows have got to go out and eat those dried up weeds. They need to rotate around so that they visit each part of the acreage once or twice a year, rain or shine.

Doesn't matter how unhappy they are about it. Sucks to be a cow. Or if they won't do it, they get replaced by goats.
There is also bison and llamas.

I thought part of the secret is that they need to pee just enough to provide more nitrogen to the next round of crops. But, yes, Savory said that the grasses have to be eaten sufficiently.
 
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