Regeneration The Art of Sustainable Living

Meetings with fascinating ecological Regenerators. Grounded sustainable thinking and commentary from a Permaculture perspective.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Can we save the earth? CBC Roundatble




Can we save the earth?

This was the question posed to a panel of experts and laymen on a CBC roundatble discussion last night.


The overall tone was optimistic. Seems that the finger pointing is giving way to the need for solutions.

The solutions however were predictable and tepid.

"Drive less"
"Consume Less"
"Consume the right things"
"mitigate the damage with remedial measures"
"Reduce, reuse, recycle"

One bright spot was new Green Party leader Elizabeth May who's incisive comments on the need to tax shift shone through the rhetoric.

She was also the only one to state the obvious retort to the conservative faction who harp on the "costs" namely, what is the cost of NOT dealing with the problems ?!

Had she been given more time I'm sure she would also have made another obvious link that no one else touched (but that was a favorite refrain of former Green Party Leader Jim Harris) what are the health care costs of inflicting disease on a massive scale ?

In the 45 minutes of air time I kept waiting to hear someone take the perspective I so hope to convey in my new tv show for PBS - namely that of Regeneration: That we can turn wastes into resources and therefore problems into solutions.

Can we save the earth ?

Absolutely.

Where do we begin ?

Why with the earth itself of course.

Seems that with all our education and high-tech savvy we ignore what the word earth means.

It also means "the soil".

As my mentor, Permaculture founder Bill Mollison so astutely observes " No civilization can survive without a sustainble food source".

Seems obvious and yet the number one problem facing humanity, dwarfing in comparison even climate change remainns completely invisible - Soil loss.

That's right. Lowly dirt and insignifigant earthworms are the key to both our demise and our salvation.

Sounds crazy I know but stay with me....

From the Environmental Literacy Council:


" 85 percent of carbon in the atmosphere comes from biological reactions in the soil... It is estimated that there is twice as much carbon in soils as in the atmosphere, and three times as much carbon as is stored in all the Earth's vegetation."

So it's simple - Industrial agriculture, by pulverizing and poisoning the soil, releases carbon, robs us of the ability to sequester greenhouse gases, squanders our most vital natural capital and poisons us for good measure.

It takes away the good and gives us bads.

Clearly, this problem can become a solution.

Sustainable agriculture regenerates soils, sequesters carbon, creates biodiversity, reduces food miles and health care costs and rejuvenates local economies.

Win-win.

Now here's where it gets really interesting.

You know that bit of "science"we all grew up with that it takes a thousand years to grow an inch of topsoil ?

We can do better.

One of the segments of my show will feature innovative "grass farmer" Abe Collins of Swanton, Vermont.

Abe reckons that by using Yeomans style Keyline Plowing and subsoiling


we can build top soil at a rate of an inch or more A YEAR.

And that if we increase the soil organic matter of the world's agricultural soils by only 1.6%, we could reduce Co2 levels to pre-industrial levels.

By looking at our problems from a systems point of view, and from the ground up, we can devise solutions that tackle multiple problems at once and provide multiple benefits to boot. We just need the humility to admit that worms and dirt are better than us at dealing with the problems we've created !


Green Regards,

Claude William Genest

- Founder Green Mountain Permaculture Institute of Vermont
Solutions, Sustenance, Sustainability
www.greenmountainpermaculture.com

- Creator "Regeneration - The Art of Sustainable Living"
From "Something-Must-be-Done" to Something we can do !
www.regenerationshow.com

- Ecological Coordinator
Club St.Paul Ecological Golf Course

- Vice-President Green Party of Quebec "pour nous et nos enfants"
www.pvq.qc.ca

- National Spokesperson Green Party of Canada
"The Future is Now ! "
www.greenparty.ca

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