Our Climatic Role

Media headlines are all abuzz since the newest UN climate study—and summit—in late September. According to the media, this study shows we’re in for catastrophic climate change.   We’re past the tipping point; the oceans can’t handle the warming and things look bleak.

I am not a climate change denier.  All you have to do is look at satellite images of the earth over the last half century and the ice masses are considerably smaller.  You don’t have to be a scientist with sophisticated measuring devices to see the shrinkage.  In Alaska, major highways now make their way through what 50 years ago were massive glaciers.  They’ve receded 25 and 30 miles; at their current rate of melting, they will absolutely be gone in just a few years.

Siberia is melting, revealing mega-fauna long frozen.  As a result, Monsanto is moving their agricultural sphere dramatically preparing for the new grain basket of the world to be located in northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway.  Can you imagine northern Scandinavia being the bread basket of the world?

Reports go on to warn of more frequent and violent storms as this disruption shakes the earth.  These predictions may or may not be true.  We’ve never been here before.  Sometimes I think we’re too sophisticated for our own good and cause ourselves unnecessary angst.  And I don’t know how much of it is human-caused and how much of it is simply an earth cycle.

When I look at this disheartening picture, I’m pushed to ask myself:  “What can I do?”  Let’s assume all the predictions are accurate.  What can I do to prepare?  I can’t affect the hurricane in the Bahamas.  I can’t affect the drying of Australia.  But I can do something about my life, my situation, my tiny corner of stewardship.

So here are agenda items we strive for here at Freedom Acres:

  1. Manage the land currently under our care to the very best of our ability. That is, make the most of every drop of rainfall and every ray of sunshine that falls upon it. Well stewarded soil is never uncovered, which means it’s constantly covered with a living crop. Soil naturally hates being naked, and always seeks to cover itself with living plants (which the crop farmer has dubbed “weeds” and curses them). This is why we choose to cultivate perennial grasses as compared to higher yielding annuals, because it allows us to keep the soil covered at all times. Growing plants above the soil sequester carbon from the atmosphere and pump it into the soil. However, this is where freeze-the-landscape environmentalists go wrong. Their foremost desire is to remove all human activity from the land in order to grow more carbon. I realize it’s the result of man’s severe mismanagement of agricultural land via row cropping or overgrazing, but to freeze the landscape is the opposite extreme and the end result is much the same. The grasses/plants grow to full maturity, and due to the lack of grazing animals they die and release their carbon into the soil while dropping their seeds for the next generation. The good news is; well stewarded grasslands kept in active growth via domestic herbivores sequester carbon efficiently enough that if American agriculture alone were to latch onto it on a broad scale, we could capture all the atmospheric carbon generated during the industrial era in only 10 years. While this may seem like a small measure, it’s something I can do, and my dream is to see the concept spread and make a continually bigger difference. Join us in our mission.
  2. Upgrade the woodland under our care by weeding out the diseased and dying and releasing the vibrantly growing trees.  Crank up the chain saw and chipper and get to work converting poor growing individuals into carbon for composting to build up organic matter in the fields.  Every percent increase in organic matter adds 20,000 gallons of water retentive capacity per acre. In simple terms, organic matter increases soil porosity which increases moisture capacity which encourages microbial and bacterial soil life which translates directly into plant vitality which supports more grazing animals to prune/regenerate the growth which sequesters more atmospheric carbon (excuse the long sentence). Besides, the soil sponge is invaluable in times of earth discomfort.  And a healthy forest is a more resilient one.
  3. Reduce food waste by shortening the chain between farm and fork.  Right now 40 percent of all food produced gets thrown away.  The closer we buy and sell to point of production the less inventory spoilage and damage.  Forget the Caribbean cruise and fire up the canning equipment.  Leave the supermarket and the exotics; eat close to home, seasonally, from local sources preferably or at least direct sources.
  4. Do more to develop resilience in our own home.  Such as adding a solarium on the south side of our house to grow leafy greens all year plus have the add benefit of passive solar heat gain (this is a personally cherished dream). Increase your rain barrel to massive cisterns; if more of us installed them, the price would drop.  Right now cisterns in Australia are a quarter the price per gallon that they are in the U.S. and it’s simply because we don’t have a competitive and vibrant demand.  Store food by canning, freezing, dehydrating.  Dave Ramsey says we should all have an emergency fund of cash to handle 4-6 months of economic catastrophe; how about an emergency food larder to handle a weather catastrophe?  Root cellars?  Yes.

This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it’s helpful to review it and realize that in the face of dire warnings, when the first reaction is paralysis because it’s such an overwhelming problem and then depression because there’s seemingly nothing we can do about it, focusing our attention on practical, actionable steps to prepare personally is an uplifting, enjoyable activity. Besides, empowered individuals can make a much bigger—not to mention effective—difference than can governments who develop multi-million dollar fix-it agendas that are ineffective at best, ruinous at worst.

Generations past may have been ignorant to man’s contribution to our climate, and the part we play in it’s change. But that generation is gone, and the ignorance they enjoyed is past. While ignorance may be bliss, knowledge is responsibility. That knowledge and responsibility is now ours. Let’s put it to use in a practical, positive manner.  And that’s the View from the Country.