Class 10 – drawdown, agriculture

Class 10 – Monday, May 2, 2022 

  • Creative solutions to climate change – Drawdown Project, microgrids
  • Agriculture and food systems
  • Overconsumption

Required Readings

  3. Farming as the Climate Changes: Soul Fire Farm, Petersburg, New York – Sustainable Food Trust – Sustainable Food Trust
  4. (summary)

Optional Reading 

  2. Drawdown Project 2020 review – in files
  3. Video Drawdown –


3:40 Intro

3:45 News

3:55 Norlite

4:05 Advocacy Projects

4:30  Creative Solutions

– Drawdown Project

– Microgrids

4:50  Agriculture

5:10  Degrowth


3;45 News

April 27:  A  spring heat wave is scorching parts of India and Pakistan, with record-breaking April temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit forecast along the border of the two countries in the coming days. The extreme heat threatens the health of millions of people as well as the harvest of wheat at a time when climate change and the war in Ukraine have sparked a global food crisis. Such severe heat waves aren’t normally registered in the region until May and June, but scientists have long warned that because of climate change they will become more common earlier and later in the coming decades. At least a billion people suffered through temperatures of 104°F (40°C) or higher from Thursday through Sunday, with many seeing highs of 110°F (43°C) and above. several monthly records fell in India and Pakistan on April 30 and May 1, while Pakistan likely experienced its hottest April on record. On May 1, the temperature climbed further, to 121.1°F (49.5°C) at Nawabshah, Pakistan, which is likely the hottest temperature on record in the Northern Hemisphere so far this year.

April 29, 2022 ‘Apocalypse Papers’: Scientists Call for Paradigm Shift as Biodiversity Loss Worsens

In the last two weeks alone, a slew of research papers predicting horrific outcomes of biodiversity loss and mass extinction were published in major journals at an alarming pace, underscoring warnings from the scientific community that the consequences of global warming are becoming more intense and accelerating far faster than previously understood.

Last week, researchers reported in another study that the world’s insects were in dramatic decline in both population and diversity due to the combination of climate change and expanding agriculture. In some areas, overall insect populations dropped nearly in half, with more than a quarter fewer species found, the study said.

Then on Wednesday, in a first-of-its-kind study, researchers declared that more than 1 in 5 species of reptiles—including iconic animals like chameleons, Komodo dragons and king cobras—are now at risk of extinction as humans continue to take away their habitat for farming, urban development and other industry. And on Thursday, another study warned that the climate crisis is pushing Earth’s oceans toward a mass extinction event at a level not seen in about 250 million years, when scientists believe up to 90 percent of marine organisms went extinct due to overheated, acidic and deoxygenated oceans.

Plastic Lies

California Attorney General Rob Bonta has launched an investigation into how the plastics industry — in particular, fossil fuel and petrochemical companies — works to deceive the public about the efficacy of plastics recycling in order to keep selling their product. Fossil fuel companies, whose oil and gas products are used to make plastic, promoted recycling as a solution for plastic pollution even when they knew most plastics couldn’t be recycled and would end up in landfills and the environment. Bonta’s office has subpoenaed ExxonMobil for documents.

Bonta said his investigation is starting with Exxon because it’s “one of the, if not the biggest producer of plastics in the world, as well as one of the leaders when it comes to deception.” At a Thursday press conference, Bonta said his office would be looking into the company’s “historic and ongoing efforts” to downplay the harms of plastic pollution and the pitfalls of plastics recycling while flooding the environment with dangerous waste.

For the first time in history, California was 100% powered by renewable energy. On Saturday afternoon, as the sun shined brightly, solar PV (about 2/3) and other renewables provided 100% of the state’s needs for about fifteen minutes.

António Guterres – April 30 – Secretary General of the United Nations


Fossil fuel interests are now cynically using the war in Ukraine to try to lock in a high carbon future. A shift to renewables is crucial to mending our broken global energy mix & offering hope to millions suffering climate impacts today.

3:55 Norlite

Channel 6 –

  1. Colin –

4:05 Advocacy Projects

Murnal –
Haruka – Greenpeace Japan
Nicolle – 350 Vermont
Alexis – Clean Air Coaliti0n
Azlin – CAB / 350 Bennington
Ivy – Women’s Earth and Climate Action Netowrk
Bella – Beyond Plastic
Ashely – Citizens Climate Lobby

4:30 Creative Solutions

Show Project Drawdown – Solutions | Project Drawdown (click on scenarios)

Drawdown Project

Here are the top ten solutions based on Project Drawdown’s ranking (if we want to keep warming below 1.5°C: Onshore Wind Turbines, Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaics, Reduced Food Waste, Plant-Rich Diets, Health & Education, Tropical Forest Restoration, Improved Clean Cookstoves, Distributed Solar Photovoltaics, Refrigerant Management, and Alternative Refrigerants.

They found that there are some solutions that can be effective but don’t get the spotlight. Among them: access to high-quality, voluntary reproductive healthcare and high-quality, inclusive education.

Educating Girls

Education lays a foundation for vibrant lives for girls and women, their families, and their communities. It also is one of the most powerful levers available for avoiding emissions by slowing population growth. Women with more years of education have fewer and healthier children, and actively manage their reproductive health.

Educated girls realize higher wages and greater upward mobility, contributing to economic growth. Their rates of maternal mortality drop, as do mortality rates of their babies. They are less likely to marry as children or against their will. They have lower incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria. Their agricultural plots are more productive and their families better nourished.

Education also shores up resilience and equips girls and women to face the impacts of climate change. They can be more effective stewards of food, soil, trees, and water, even as nature’s cycles change. They have greater capacity to cope with shocks from natural disasters and extreme weather events.

Today, there are economic, cultural, and safety-related barriers that impede 62 million girls around the world from realizing their right to education. Key strategies to change that include:

  • make school affordable
  • help girls overcome health barriers
  • reduce the time and distance to get to school
  • make schools more girl-friendly.

Family Planning

Securing women’s right to voluntary, high-quality family planning around the world would have powerful positive impacts on the health, welfare, and life expectancy of both women and their children. It also can affect greenhouse gas emissions.

Some 225 million women in lower-income countries say they want the ability to choose whether and when to become pregnant but lack the necessary access to contraception. The need persists in some high-income countries as well—including the United States, where 45 percent of pregnancies are unintended. Currently, the world faces a US$5.3 billion funding shortfall for providing the access to reproductive health care that women say they want to have.

Carbon footprints are a common topic. Addressing population—how many feet are leaving their tracks—remains controversial despite widespread agreement that greater numbers place more strain on the planet.


Can be important in more isolated areas as avoid the need to large infrastructure.

Many now are combined heat and power, powered by natural gas or other fossil fuels

An early driver for the development of microgrids was increased reliability for facilities sensitive to electrical outages. A defining element of a microgrid is its ability to connect and disconnect from the larger grid during outages that can cause blackouts or brownouts. When the main grid falters, the microgrid quickly takes over to deliver electricity from local energy sources.

Grid-Connected Microgrids. Large-scale, grid-connected microgrids are gaining interest in today’s energy market as we look toward increasing renewable energy and decreasing use of fossil fuels globally. In these deployments, the microgrid has a physical connection to a large-scale utility grid but is able to disconnect and reconnect as needed. These types of microgrids allow for greater flexibility and can also increase reliability of the power supply. This means the microgrid can be designed with a combination of renewables and energy storage that allows an operator to disconnect from the main grid and run independently. When capacity runs out, it can reconnect to the network or drop some loads within the microsystem.

Solar-plus-battery-storage microgrids would greatly enhance the ability of chosen schools to serve communities during natural disasters or power outages, like the ones induced by California’s PG&E electric utility that affected hundreds of thousands of residents last October. The sites will provide a place to coordinate essential emergency services, store perishable food and provide residents with light, power and connectivity in times of distress.

US microgrids powered by renewable energy will grow over three-fold to 32.8GW installed capacity by 2030, creating almost 500,000 jobs, and generating $72bn in gross domestic product growth and $146bn in business sales, according to a new report by consultant Guidehouse Insights. “Most microgrids feature hybrid renewable and fossil fuel assets. The emergence of more cost-effective energy storage enables an increased reliance on renewable energy,” said the authors of the report, The Renewable Energy Economic Benefits of Microgrids.

4:50 Agriculture

Agriculture is directly responsible for about 10 percent of American’s greenhouse gas emissions, while the impact of our food system overall, including food processing and disposal, as well as the global deforestation driven by our eating habits, is much greater The global food system is responsible for ~21–37% of annual emissions

UN Report on land – human activities have already altered 70% of the Earth’s land surface, degrading up to 40% of it. Four of the nine “planetary boundaries” – limits on how humans can safely use Earth’s resources – have already been exceeded.

Food systems – a catch-all term to describe the way humans produce, process, transport and consume food – are the largest culprit when it comes to land degradation, the report says. They account for 80% of deforestation, 29% of greenhouse gas emissions and the leading share of biodiversity loss.

The degradation of land is perpetuated by steep inequalities, it adds. It notes that 70% of the world’s agricultural land is controlled by just 1% of farms, primarily large agribusinesses. The report, from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), urges world leaders to adopt a “crisis footing” to solve land degradation. The authors warn that “at no other point in modern history has humanity faced such an array of familiar and unfamiliar risks and hazards”.

Project Drawdown on Agriculture

Address Waste and Diets

By shifting diets and addressing food waste, the global demand for food can significantly drop. Eating lower on the food chain and ensuring what’s grown gets eaten is a powerful combination that lowers farming inputs, land-clearing, and all associated emissions.

Protect Ecosystems

When land and ecosystems are deliberately protected, activities that release carbon from vegetation and soil are stopped before they start. In addition, improving food production on existing farmland may reduce the pressure on other, nearby landscapes, thereby sparing them from clearing.

Shift Agriculture Practices

Better agriculture practices can lower emissions from cropland and pastures, including methane generated by growing rice and raising ruminants, nitrous oxide emitted from manure and overusing fertilizers, and carbon dioxide released by disturbing soils.

Climate and meat

Livestock production accounts for 70 per cent of all agricultural land use, occupies 30 per cent of the planet’s land surface and is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

Growing animals for food is also inefficient. It takes about five to seven kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of beef. Each of those takes energy and water to produce, process, and transport.

As global meat consumption increases, so does its climate impact.

The problems with chemical agriculture

Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are often made from fossil fuels. Manufacturing and transporting them uses energy and produce greenhouse gases.

Studies show that chemical farming uses more energy per unit of production than organic farms. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in soils produce nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas about 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Organic farms rely on natural manure and compost for fertilizer. They store much more carbon in the soil, keeping it out of the atmosphere.

Food closer to home

The average meal travels 1,200 kilometers from the farm to plate. Food grown closer to home produces fewer transportation emissions, is fresher and supports local farmers. As the distance food travels decreases, so does the need for processing and refrigeration to reduce spoilage.

Silvopasture is an ancient practice that integrates trees and pasture into a single system for raising livestock. Research suggests silvopasture far outpaces any grassland technique for counteracting the methane emissions of livestock and sequestering carbon under-hoof. Pastures strewn or crisscrossed with trees sequester five to ten times as much carbon as those of the same size that are treeless, storing it in both biomass and soil.

Carbon aside, the advantages of silvopasture are considerable, with financial benefits for farmers and ranchers. Livestock, trees, and any additional forestry products, such as nuts, fruit, and mushrooms, generate income on different time horizons. The health and productivity of both animals and the land improve. Because silvopasture systems are diversely productive and more resilient, farmers are better insulated from risk.

Silvopasture often runs counter to farming norms and can be costly and slow to implement.

Project Drawdown estimates that silvopasture is currently practiced on 550 million hectares of land globally. If adoption expands to 720–772 million hectares by 2050—out of the 823 million hectares theoretically suitable for silvopasture—carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 26.6–42.3 gigatons. This reduction is a result of the high annual carbon sequestration rate of 2.74 tons of carbon per hectare per year in soil and biomass. Farmers could realize financial gains from revenue diversification of US$1.7–2.3 trillion, on investment of US$206–273 billion and lifetime operational cost of US$2–3 trillion to implement.

regenerative agriculture

Soul Fire farm Video -

regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of the farm by placing a heavy premium on soil health with attention also paid to water management, fertilizer use, and more. It is a method of farming that “improves the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them,” according to the Rodale Institute.

  • Conservation tillage: Plowing and tillage dramatically erode soil and release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By adopting low- or no-till practices, farmers minimize physical disturbance of the soil, and over time increase levels of soil organic matter, creating healthier, more resilient environments for plants to thrive, as well as keeping more and more carbon where it belongs.
  • Diversity: Different plants release different carbohydrates (sugars) through their roots, and various microbes feed on these carbs and return all sorts of different nutrients back to the plant and the soil.
  • Rotation and cover crops: Left exposed to the elements, soil will erode and the nutrients necessary for successful plant growth will either dry out or quite literally wash away. At the same time, planting the same plants in the same location can lead to a buildup of some nutrients and a lack of others. But by rotating crops and deploying cover crops strategically, farms and gardens can infuse soils with more and more (and more diverse) soil organic matter, often while avoiding disease and pest problems naturally.
  • Mess with it less: In addition to minimizing physical disturbance, regenerative agriculture practitioners also often seek to be cautious about chemical or biological activities that also can damage long-term soil health. Misapplication of fertilizers and other soil amendments can disrupt the natural relationship between microorganisms and plant roots.

Extreme downpours can lead to polluted runoff and erosion because the ground simply isn’t able to absorb the precipitation at the rate it’s falling. And at a certain point of inundation, plants can drown. On the other end of the spectrum, less stable precipitation together with increased heat is causing more and more drought, and in extreme circumstances near-desertification, leading to a complete loss of farm production in some areas.

New York will have same amount of rain but fewer and more intense.

Rising temperatures will allow more insects to migrate.

Biochar, a charcoal-like substance made from burning organic materials in a low or zero-oxygen environment, can improve the quality of soil and trap carbon dioxide in the earth for potentially hundreds, or even thousands, of years.  But a recent study suggests that it may also have another benefit: it could reduce irrigation costs for farmers, thanks to its highly porous and water-absorbent properties. However, it is costly and works better in some regions that others.

5:10 Degrowth and reducing consumption

While they represent less than 5% of the world’s population, Americans Consume 17% of the world’s energy and Account for 15% of the world’s GDP.

Additionally, more than almost any other country in the world, the United States:
Consumes more calories.
Emits more greenhouse gases.
Produces more waste.

Overproduction is the production of goods that exceeds the needs of the consumers who are consuming them. It was the leading cause of the Great Depression — factories and farms produced more goods than the people could afford to buy, so prices fell, factories closed their doors and workers were laid off, which led to a seemingly endless cycle of poverty and want.

Overconsumption is what happens when an ecosystem can no longer sustain the use of its resources. It strips the earth of natural resources, such as forests, fish, soil, minerals and water, which collapses ecosystems, ruins habitats and endangers the survival of countless species that contribute to an intricate, vibrant circle of life.

2015 study found that the production and use of household goods and services was responsible for 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Wealthy countries have the most per capita impact. A new U.N. report found that the richest one percent of the global population emit more than twice the amount than the poorest 50 percent; moreover, the wealthier people become, the more energy they use. A typical American’s yearly carbon emissions are five times that of the world’s average person.

it is not enough simply to “green” consumption by buying more sustainably produced goods—it is essential to reduce consumption. This is because 45 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions comes solely from the production of the things we use and buy every day.

companies intentionally plan obsolescence of their products by changing how they look, such as in the fashion industry, or updating the design or software of products and discontinuing support for older models. Only one percent of “stuff” is still in use six months from its purchase, according to Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff, the iconic 2007 film.

Greens also recognize the need to reduce excessive energy and environmental consumption by the world’s wealthiest countries and individuals. The Green Party supports the concept of removing growth as an imperative of the economy and instead focusing on creating an ecologically sustainable society. It strongly supports the growth of economic sectors that meet human and nature’s needs, in particular, renewable energy supply, agroecologies, green affordable housing, free public transit powered by renewable energy-derived electricity while at the same time calling for degrowth of the Military-Industrial Complex.

The degrowth movement argues that climate change should prompt a radical rethinking of economic growth, and policymakers serious about climate change should try to build a livable world without economic growth fueling it. The objective of degrowth is to reframe humanity’s goals to address the climate emergency by dramatically scaling down aggregate energy and resource use back into balance with the living world. At the same time, the idea is seeking to reduce inequality and improve wellbeing, through measures such as job guarantees, a shorter working week and potentially a universal basic income.