Tag: soil health

Top “How To” Tips to Help Make It Rain

Washington (GGM) Analysis | July 6, 2021 by author and climate journalist Noreen Wise

“Soil. Earth. Ground. And due to its vast scale and its ability to sequester immense quantities of greenhouse gases, it could just be the one thing that can balance our climate, replenish our freshwater supply, and feed the world. That’s why some people are racing to save our soil, in hopes that our soil just might save us.” —Award winning documentary, Kiss the Ground

Soil health becomes even more important once we realize our food supply is at risk due to conventional agriculture practices merging with climate change weather events that increase droughts and extreme heat. Currently, according to US Drought Monitor, there are 14 states experiencing extreme and exceptional drought conditions, with the following states having the highest exposure:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
It’s time to face the music. #ActNow on climate by restoring our habitat. Let’s return to the Garden of Eden.

Heart of the matter. In the center of California’s prosperous farm belt in the San Joaquin Valley, farmers are struggling to stay afloat after four years of extreme drought. In June 2021, the Fresno Bee published an article with the headline: San Joaquin Valley needs to stop waiting to be rescued. The piece outlined that the Bureau of Reclamation issued an update for the Central Valley Project for Agriculture informing farmers that water deliveries to famers were being reduced from 5% to 0%. Farmers would now have to rely on groundwater, which would likely be challenging due to reduced snowpack and little to no rain.

Pioneer soil health expert, and North Dakota rancher, farmer and author, Gabe Brown, knows the perils all too well and has been working tirelessly since the mid-nineties to educate and promote the six principles of regenerative agriculture to farmers across the country in an effort to help prevent the precarious downward spiral that leads to soil degradation when heat and drought set in. Additionally, Gabe was invited to speak to the House Agriculture Committee back in spring 2021 about the impact of climate change on farming.

Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

I recently spoke with Gabe and asked him what he recommended for homeowners in states experiencing drought conditions. Is it better to conserve water, or plant diverse no mow plants? He explained that the regenerative soil health principles are the same everywhere, and can be applied despite tough conditions. He suggested the following:

  • Plant diverse native species that are low water users.
  • We need living plants in order to get more rainfall (“people don’t often believe this, but it’s true”).
  • Living plants attract moisture conditions.
  • Plus they emit moisture.
  • Way better off to grow something than not.
  • We’re compounding the problem by NOT growing things.
  • Need to grow the right kind of plant that can tolerate these conditions.
  • Not only will plants create rain, they’ll also boost soil health and store more carbon above and below ground.

This can seem challenging to wrap our minds around, so I better repeat. If we want rain, we have to start planting the right native species. Live roots in the ground, generate the rain.

Next Steps

  • A quick search online populates lists of plants that grow well in drought conditions.
  • Become a citizen scientist and test to see which species grow best in your community.
  • Diverse mix of no mow, drought tolerant grasses are ideal.
  • Once we feel more certain about which plants will survive we can pass the word to neighbors as well as the environmental department at town hall. Collective action will turn us all into rainmakers.
  • Let’s give it our best shot.

Good luck!

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Big Sur Slide Signals Need for Immediate Action on Climate | Soil

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 16, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Big Sur just lost a section of its famous coast-hugging highway, and it’s not the first time. The super-scenic roadway boasts magnificent views of giant Redwoods to the east and bluest of blue Pacific Ocean to the west. Drivers struggle to keep eyes on the road as the jaw-dropping views captivate their passengers. Being perilously close to the edge of the continent, though, has its dangers. Two recent catastrophic breaks in the road resulted in sections of the highway plunging into the Pacific, hundreds of yards below. Scientists and residents are finding connections between climate change and the damage done to their beloved two-lane road.

What’s the heart of the matter? The beginning of this story is the summer of 2020, when the Dolan Fire burned over 125,000 acres just east of Big Sur. Burn scars near the area can still be seen. Stripping the area of  forests, shrubs and ground cover, the fire left the area vulnerable to soil erosion. Add into the mix a fierce rainstorm which dropped 16 inches of rain in the area. The catastrophic destruction of a 150-foot section of  Highway 1, near Big Sur on January 28, 2021 was anticipated by officials. Acting out of caution and no doubt previous experience, Cal-Trans spokesperson Jim Shivers noted that 40 miles of the highway had already been closed in anticipation of mudslides near the burn scar.

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How does this impact you? We have cause for concern. A “slip-out,” the Los Angeles Times noted, happens when the soil surrounding the road is so full of water that the force of gravity wins and the road falls down the cliff. The “atmospheric river” that triggered this most recent slip-out was basically a moving column of water vapor that brought extraordinary amounts of rain to the coast. According to the Guardian, the amount of rain that dumped on the central coast last week was double the amount the area had, on average, all month.

Place the massive rain event in a burn scarred area, as this one was, and the road had no chance. In burn areas, heavy rainfall causes debris flows that rip up vegetation, choke pipes, and chase people from their homes. There are long-term consequences, as well. Post-fire landslides are a danger for years after the fire. And according to the U.S. Geological Survey, debris flows that happen over a longer period of time result in root decay and loss of soil strength. The soil has little chance of recovery between weather emergencies.

Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

This recent Big Sur slip-out demonstrates the tragic but logical chain of events that resulted in the highway crashing into the sea:

  • massive wildfire 
  • dry landscape
  • ferocious rainstorm

In recent years Californians have seen more evidence of climate change. As high winds and dry vegetation become more common, firefighters can expect to be called into action in any season of the year. Aggravating the situation, some sources, such as Jay Lund writing in the “California WaterBlog,” predict a multi-year drought for the state in the near future. Any one of these events, by itself, poses serious threats. Taken together, they point to the need to act now.

What can you do to help? Climate change affects all of us. You’ve no doubt experienced surprisingly destructive wind, rain, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Snow storms in May. Rising water levels. We know the signs. With science back in fashion, one thing you can do is advocate for change. Stay informed about legislation you can support at the local, state and national levels. Communicate your support for climate change policies. And, as always, remain committed to making a difference by living and modeling a sustainable lifestyle.


Next Steps

  • If you live in a fire-prone area, remove dry brush that fuels fire 
  • Foster lush native trees, plants, and undercover to anchor the soil 
  • Connect with neighbors and friends about ways to slow climate change
  • Volunteer with a local organization working for change
Time to face the music. In order to succeed at carbon drawdown, we have to return to the Garden of Eden. Very exciting! #ActNow Take a listen.

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No Till Soil Is a Climate Solution | Act Now

Washington (GGM) Analysis | June 9, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

What can be done about climate change? A lot! Many of us are busy making significant changes in our everyday habits to become more sustainable and lower our carbon footprints. However, there are a few tricks that have yet to be applied on a grand scale, and now’s the time. If you compost, you are part of a growing wave of people concerned about soil health. Because soil stores a significant amount of carbon, keeping it there is vital in the fight against climate change. This is especially significant in agriculture, with its vast acreage. Soil, not to be confused with dirt, is an ecosystem in itself, with millions of microbes and insects which are responsible for plant growth. Maintaining a natural, undisturbed  balance in the soil’s ecosystem leads to a higher level of carbon storage as well as strong, healthy crops. “No-till” farms help make this happen. They are an arrow in our quiver of weapons to fight climate change.

The heart of the matter. Tilling the soil began thousands of years ago, with the invention of the plow. While many iterations of the basic plow emerged over the centuries, the technique’s harmful consequences have only recently become common knowledge. Tilling the soil disrupts its natural covering, leaving it more susceptible to erosion by wind and water. It releases carbon into the air and kills the really important microbes and insects in the soil’s ecosystem. The good news is that no-till farming avoids these damaging outcomes. It’s a technique being used by conservationist farmers doing their part to cultivate healthy, carbon-rich soil.

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Great civilizations such as Greece and China suffered the consequences of soil erosion due to poor soil cultivation. In ancient Greece, it has been found that soil erosion increased dangerously only after the introduction of the plow. In ancient China, it was deforestation that led to the flooding of vast swaths of land and tragic consequences for towns and villages. Time and again, despite attempts to curb soil erosion by terracing and contour plowing, societies’ destructive practices slowed or stopped crop production. Societies were weakened and left vulnerable to invasions. Growing populations were forced to migrate to new lands. Civilizations collapsed, directly or indirectly, from poor soil management.

The human impact on soil has a long, destructive history, and not much has changed. In recent history, an entire industry developed around artificially improving depleted soil. Using a variety of chemicals on soil across the agricultural fields of the U.S. and beyond “led to an unprecedented increase in food production, but also contributed to global warming and the pollution of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and coastal ecosystems.” And so, the rise of the no-till movement.

Time to face the music. In order to succeed at carbon drawdown, we have to return to the Garden of Eden. #ActNow Take a listen.

How does no till farming help you? It’s clear that not plowing the soil has impressive advantages for the health of our planet. In addition, no-till farming practices benefit the farmer as well. No till farms:

  • leave stored carbon in place, where it can do its job in the soil ecosystem.
  • take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere naturally, without harming land and water resources.
  • preserve the soil cover, allowing water to permeate the soil and reducing erosion. 
  • diminish the amount of pollution streaming into nearby rivers and lakes because of improved absorption.
  • create a healthy soil ecosystem that grows stronger over time to produce healthy crops and prevent disease.
  • decrease the need to irrigate because water evaporates more slowly from an untilled field.

What can you do to help keep carbon in the soil? In the past 300 years, we’ve degraded our soil by 50 percent. Something must be done to reverse the trend. While no till farming practices will not solve all of our climate issues, they can make a difference. For farmers with lots of acres or just one, consider making the change to no till farming. Check out the resources to learn more. (Some are listed below.)  You might not be a farmer, so what can you do? Educate yourself further about no till farming practices. Be an expert who influences others; engaging in conversations is the beginning of change! Locate and support local farmers who practice no till farming, and share the contact information with your neighbors. In the meantime, continue your day-to-day sustainability practices like composting, recycling, and upcycling. We are all in this together, and it will take all of us to make a positive change.

Next Steps

  • Get a soil drill for your yard to plant seeds, the goal is no disturbance
  • Watch Kiss the Ground to get a better understanding of how important soil health is
  • Use no till practices in your yard, which simply means don’t break up the soil, doing so will release the carbon that’s stored in that area
  • Reduce your carbon emissions by living sustainably, walking and biking more and driving less, and switching to renewables
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

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Composting | A Major Climate Solution

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 19, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Perspective is everything. Composting can seem like a daunting task or a simple way to make our soil healthy. The benefits of composting for the climate and the environment may persuade you to get on board, to learn something new, and to contribute to a growing movement to give back.

The heart of the matter. The wisdom of composting goes back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome, and soil cultivation has been in practice ever since. The Founding Fathers realized the importance of renewing the soil of their farms and gardens. Washington, Jefferson, and Adams (among others) treasured the land for its abundance and permanence; fields were not something to be used and abandoned. Because tobacco had depleted the soil of many estates by the late 1700s, Washington began planting crops that could anchor the American agricultural economy. To replenish the soil for wheat fields and orchards, he experimented with manure, Potomac mud, and fish remains. In the end, Washington operated five farms in Virginia and was one of the most successful farmers of his time. 

How does this impact you personally? Composting is a practical way to improve the health of the soil and reduce our carbon footprint. Over the centuries, the basic principles of composting have remained consistent and have yielded the same predictable outcomes for sustaining our planet. The knowledge and tools are at our fingertips. Using the wisdom garnered over the ages, we have the chance, without too much difficulty, to create a thriving environment and help planet Earth.

Composting:

  • adds microbes to dirt and soil, enabling it to store loads of carbon that thwarts climate change.
  • reduces methane-producing waste in landfills
  • creates vibrant soil that supports the ecosystem
  • retains water in the soil, reducing the need to irrigate
  • promotes disease-free plant growth
Get daily climate action tips by joining Act Now for the Earth Cafe and have fun learning the amazing & valuable tips that will help the earth recover from the staggering damage of climate change. Cafe communities are the new big thing. Sustainability is all about community. We’d greatly value you being part of our ecosystem by CLICKing here today and joining Earth Cafe!

What can you do about this? Whether you live in a noisy urban neighborhood or on a quiet rural road, composting is possible. To keep it simple, deliver your food scraps to your community compost collection site. (See the list of Virginia composting facilities at the end of this article.) Or, find a compost company that picks up your food scraps. Check to see how the company uses the compost, and find out if they return compost to you. Make your own compost by following simple daily guidelines. (Click here to see a short how-to video.) You can make a difference for your family, your community, and the planet. Remember the Founding Fathers: The success of the new nation hinged on its fruitful harvests. Did they ever imagine how critical their organic practices would be for the health of the planet?

Next steps:

  • Begin saving food scraps in a compost bag in your refrigerator, a cool garage or in a clamped container.
  • Gather both green materials (fruits, vegetables, tea, egg shells, coffee grounds) and brown (newspapers, egg cartons, twigs, and dried grass). 
  • Avoid oils, dairy, meat, and bread.
  • Decide if you will create the compost yourself or donate your scraps to your community, or
  • Find the most eco-friendly company to pick up your scraps and use them to benefit soil health.

Virginia Composting Facilities by Area

References:

“Benefits of Compost.” U.S. Composting Council, http://www.compostingcouncil.org/. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Simon, Julia. “How to Start Composting.” NPR, 2021, http://www.npr.org/2020/04/07/828918397/how-to-compost-at-home.

Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this civilization-destroying threat.

Subscribe to Force of Nature to stay connected to the insights we provide in our effort to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, eco-friendly, carbon neutral global community. Click here to subscribe.

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Sustainability Hacks | Eggshells

Washington (GGM) Analysis | May 4, 2021 by author & climate journalist Noreen Wise

Sustainability is vitally important in our quest to lower our carbon footprints and preserve our natural resources for future generations. Improving the outcome of our sustainable living strategies involves a lot of critical thinking, ingenuity, and resourcefulness, three valuable life skills, that once acquired, consistently power us through the many tough challenges we’ll likely face across the decades. These life skills are yet another residual benefit bestowed on us from living sustainably.

Many or our international allies are well on their way to fully transitioning to a sustainable national culture, with the vast majority of citizens already immersed in refuse-reuse-recycle, as well as weekly curbside compost pick-up, growing their own food, gifts wrapped in cloth and tied with a reusable ribbons, upcycled treasures, etc. I was wowed by the good fortune of spending nine months in Canada during the worst of covid, living this idyllic dream culture that some refer to as Utopia. This eco-friendly lifestyle is refreshingly invigorating. I was amazed at how happy Canadians are, much happier than most Americans. The positive, upbeat vibe seemed to be one of the many beneficial side effects of sustainability. The personal well-being impact became a powerful motivator for me to stay the course when I returned to Virginia. 

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Heart of the matter. The devil is in the details. Now that I’m back, with this whole new perspective, I was jazzed to discover a fabulous sustainability subculture in the United States, thriving in its simplicity and vitality. Many of these eco-innovators are eager to share tips they hope will inspire others  to commit to this climate necessity transformation. One particular woman is Rose Tenaglia Dunn, who lives on cape Cod. Rose is the host of the very popular Eaarth Feels podcast, which I highly recommend.

Rose provided tips for simple and easy ways to reuse the eggshells that are daily staples in most households. She’s been using eggshells regularly for eight years:

  • Throw the eggshells into a jug and add water. Rose calls this “eggshell tea,” one of her dad’s gardening hacks. He would use the tea to water the house plants which Rose marveled were always “healthy and lush.” But, the tea is stinky, so you may want to store in the garage or outside.
  • Rinse the eggshells and store in a carton under the sink. Once the carton is full, transfer the eggshells to a bag and crush them until they’re “miniscule.” Rose uses a rolling pin. Feel free to be resourceful and use whatever you have at your disposal. Because eggshells are rich in calcium and protein, Rose uses the crushed shells as a toxin-free fertilizer and sprinkles them on the vegetables in her garden, particularly: tomatoes, spinach, eggplant, peppers, and Swiss chard.
  • Eggshells can be used as tiny seed pots, and Rose is currently experimenting with this. She just planted pepper and corn seeds in the eggshells and will transfer the little glob directly into the vegetable bed once the seeds have sprouted and grown (about 3 to 4 inches and have their second set of leaves). Rose explains that the eggshell will serve as the fertilizer.

See what I mean about ingenuity and resourcefulness? Tasking children to help think of clever, beneficial ways to use “stuff” that would otherwise become waste will help develop these often dormant life skills. 

Next steps:

  • Our food system is a great place to begin the deep dive into sustainability.
  • If you’re not already composting kitchen scraps, you may want to start here. It’s a wonderful launching point that will have immediate benefits.
  • Eliminate all products packaged in plastic, which are usually condiments like ketchup, and many bottled drinks, etc.
  • Replace the plastic personal care products (tooth brush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, switching to bamboo or bars).
  • Make sure you have non-plastic reusable water bottle and coffee mug for Starbucks visits.
  • And so many more ideas. The list is endless really.
  • #actnow
Groundbreaking YA book series for all ages. Not only a gripping modern day nail-biter with Machiavellian villains, but also one that opens our eyes to the brutal war going on beneath our feet that controls our destiny, despite our obliviousness to this civilization-destroying threat.

Becoming 100 percent sustainable is a long and winding road. It will take time. But starting the journey is very simple and quick. You can gain today by rinsing a carton as well as today’s  eggshells and placing them under your sink. Good luck and have fun with each new discovery.


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We’ve Had 51 Years of Earth Month, Yet Carbon Skyrocketed

Washington (GGM) Analysis | April 3, 2021 by author & journalist Noreen Wise

Earth Month is finally here… again. Hurray! Let’s get our ducks in a row so that we can maximize the enthusiasm and excitement that comes from so many of us in our communities focused on making progress with the aggressive habitat restoration goals we’ve set for ourselves and our towns.

Earth Day began in 1970 when Nixon was President and our atmospheric carbon level was only 325.68 PPM. Imagine. It’s absolutely mind-bending that carbon levels could explode so significantly in 51 short years. Today the atmospheric carbon level is a staggering 416 PPM. An unfathomable level, especially when compared to the pre-Industrial Revolution carbon level of 280 which dates back to 1760. The accelerated pace of the rising carbon levels is what has so many scientists concerned. One hundred and ninety years to climb approximately 46 points from 280 to 325.68. But only 50 years to skyrocket 91 points. If that’s not a huge wake-up call, then we have to get much more creative with public messaging so we can overcome the towering obstacle of willful ignorance.

The heart of the matter. The accelerated rise in atmospheric carbon levels cannot go unchecked. The impact of global warming on low lying areas acround the globe, that are now submerged, as well as agricultural regions that can no longer produce the necessary crop yields when plagued by the staggering heat and extended droughts, is life-disrupting. Migration to safe ground has already begun. We see this at our own southern border as families from Central America send their children to the United States border crossings in the hopes they will be allowed in and given hope for a brighter future.

Every single one of us has to do our individual part in reducing our carbon footprints so that we can get the atmospheric carbon level back down under 400 PPM — hopefully down to 375 — as quickly as we saw it rise. Blind indifference to the suffering we’re causing others is the reason why foreign countries have begun taking action against the US.

There are two sides of the coin to lowering our carbon footprints. Cutting carbon emissions on one side (solar energy, EV cars, circular economy), and storing more carbon in our yards and our communities, by boosting soil health and restoring our habitat, on the other.

What’s the solution? Healthy soil is Gallant Gold Media’s primary focus during Earth Month. Soil health will enable soil to be a massive carbon reservoir that can eliminate a significant amount of atmospheric carbon. But this level of carbon storage is only achievable if we each do our little bit.

Healthy soil is filled with life, with microbes, and is easy to spot due to its very dark, rich chocolate brown color. The healthier the soil, the more carbon it can store. Healthy soil has a high-water infiltration rate, and thus holds more water for a longer period of time, which is a great benefit during the long, hot, dry warm weather months. Healthy soil also maintains a cooler temperature which is equally as beneficial during our long, hot dry summer months. Our food supply is threatened unless we can offset the negative impact of heat on our crops.

Compost and red wiggler composting worms are both vital in maintaining healthy soil in our communities. All homeowners and land owners should take advantage of these vital tools to improve the soil on our properties.

Next Steps during Earth Month:

  • Home composting is an absolute MUST. Your neighbors are composting, are you? Compost added to the soil in our yards and communities quickly boosts soil health.
  • Red wiggler worms are soil engineers. Their castings enrich soil health very efficiently, boosting soil microbes at a rapid pace, resulting in a positive impact above and below the surface. The can be easily purchased and sent to you at home. Red wigglers make awesome pets.
  • Keep the soil covered to lock in the moisture and carbon. If possible, plant a mix of diverse cover crops for the yard.
  • Never plow/till your yard. All the stored carbon will be released.
  • Plant diversity is critical. Not only does it contribute to soil health, but it blocks pests, which dramatically reduces the need for pesticides. (Pesticides kill microbes and diminishes soil health.)

Good luck. Have fun. And be sure to check back for more carbon sequestration tips.

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Unaccompanied Children at Border are Climate Refugees

Washington (GGM) Analysis | March 25, 2021 by author & journalist Noreen Wise

For all of us climate warriors who are giving our 120 percent to educate the public on how to reduce our carbon footprints in our homes as well as our communities, which will result in lowering our atmospheric carbon level and curbing global warming, it seems as though we might know the ideal strategy that will help overcome the chronic border crossing challenge. After all, we’ve been posting and protesting about this for years.

Why is the media blaming Joe anyway? Has any president in the history of our country, (including George Washington and Abe Lincoln, who both had to transform our disunion of states following two divisive and destructive wars fought on our home soil), done more, in such a short period of time, all while in the midst of a global pandemic? Blaming Joe only makes the media look blind and disconnected.

The heart of the matter. Two-thirds of the unaccompanied children who’ve been streaming across the border since President Biden was inaugurated, are from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These three countries clumped together just below the Mexican border, have extensive shorelines on both sides of the land bridge that connects North America to South America. Viewing the area on a map, it becomes crystal clear that the beautiful Caribbean Sea along the eastern Central American coast and the Pacific Ocean hugging the western coastline, are susceptible to rising ocean waters, particularly problematic in light of the flat coastal regions with all the farmland, are low-lying, making the area much more vulnerable to climate events, as well as flooding from heavy rains, which results in extensive soil erosion.

Seventy-eight percent of the land used for agriculture in Honduras though, is in the hills, with steep angles and eroded soil. Soil degradation, and high temperatures with little rain, makes the land useless for sustaining the country’s food supply. Soil instability has a cascading impact on jobs, food supply, and homes, potentially causing devastating mudslides when the skies eventually do open. Additionally, this fragile strip is affected much more extensively by the negative force of 28 trillion tons of ice melting into the sea in total since the 1990’s, 1.2 trillion tons per year, (this is a 60 percent increase since the 1990’s which saw an annual ice melt of only 760 billion tons per year). Rising sea levels, which have eroded millions of acres of farmland in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, have resulted in extensive job loss, with no way to replace the disappearing employment opportunities anytime soon. Additionally, thousands of homes have been destroyed by the rising water levels.

Thus, the border crisis is essentially a degraded soil crisis which is rooted in the climate crisis. Please note, that any time the soil becomes so degraded it can’t be used to farm, it takes years to regenerate. 

What’s the solution? Most of the unaccompanied climate refugees are crossing the US border into Texas. Texas is where America’s largest carbon emitters are headquartered. It’s clear that the most effective and fair solutions are twofold. One, the corporate aggresors must step up and fund additional housing at the border for the climate refugees. And two, most importantly, the oil industry must fund soil regeneration back in the home countries. Soil health experts, Rattan Lal and Gabe Brown, have done extensive research and testing on how to regenerate denigrated soil like that found in Central America, brought about by the destructive heat and extended droughts caused by climate change. We simply must apply their techniques to the soil in the home countries. Vice President Kamala Harris is on her way to Central America to help stem the mass exodus, hopefully she can pull this off.

The border crisis is ultimately a financial crisis though, for both the US (in managing the massive influx of minors pouring in from those Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) as well as the refugees who have lost their financial stability, homes, and occupations due to irresponsible corporate greed that has driven atmospheric carbon levels to staggering highs, hitting third world nations the hardest.

Please note, ExxonMobil had a net profit of $14.34 billion in 2019 and $20.84 billion in 2018. Let that sink in

There are approximately 9,000 independent oil and gas companies located in the United States. Their profit across the decades is staggering. They have the funds necessary to cover the costs required to expand the facilities at the border, while simultaneously covering the expense of regenerating the denigrated soil that’s causing the mass exodus back home. Corporate indifference and callous decision making by fossil fuel giants, dates back several decades. It’s time to require them to take stock and pay up. If anyone can convince these corporate offenders to do the right, and equitable, thing, it’s surely our new Vice President Kamala Harris. Good Luck, Kamala!

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From Raging Wildfires to Habitat Restoration | Soil Health

Washington (GGM) Analysis | February 14, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

Wildfires are unpredictable, destructive, and, in recent times, more common. Among their many victims is the soil. Soil forms the foundation of our food chain, and so is of primary importance. Cristina Santin and Stefan H. Doerr conjure up a graphic image for us: Soil is the “living, breathing skin of the Earth.” It’s an image to keep in mind when considering how the land recovers from a fire.

What’s the heart of the matter? According to Santin and Doerr, fires affect soil in different ways, depending primarily on the temperature of the fire. At lower temperatures, fire reduces the microbial biomass that releases carbon dioxide and plant nutrients into the soil. It destroys seed banks and fine roots. At higher temperatures, the chemicals in the soil, like the pH, change. This impacts the stability of the soil and its ability to absorb water. All of these lead to the increased likelihood of soil erosion.

Join our free Mighty Network today and be kept informed about how you can boost carbon biosequestration in your own yard and local community ASAP, which will hasten the drawdown of carbon in our atmosphere. 

As often happens, a storm comes on the heels of a fire, dramatically increasing the danger of mudslides and debris flows. Even months after the fire, burn-scarred areas are threatened. Big Sur, experienced this recently as a portion of scenic Highway 1 near a burn-scar was washed out after a torrential rainstorm. While there are some benefits to natural soil erosion (adding essential nutrients to streams and rivers) with the advent of climate change and its extreme weather events, soil erosion has become a problem. Crops suffer as the nutrient-rich topsoil gets washed away, leaving exposed bare mineral soil that water cannot penetrate. This means less carbon for plants and less carbon stored. Fires also create the opportunity for aggressive invasive species to take root, harming native plants and causing soil damage.

How does this impact you? This issue affects our farmers more than any other population, and thus our food supply. The fields that grow our food are essential to our survival. Additionally, millions of tons of stored soil carbon are released during a wildfire. We simultaneously lose billions of trees that store carbon, creating a devastating long term effect. The path to restoring both the soil and the trees begins with soil health recovery. We need to take immediate action to prevent excessive soil erosion resulting from raging wildfires and devastating storms. Many universities and governmental agencies have joined in the effort, conducting research, reestablishing habitats, and keeping the public informed. But restoring the soil takes time, maybe even years. Throughout history, maintaining our food supply has been paramount. In modern times, we must also work to protect our resources. Restoring natural habitats strengthens the soil, allowing it to absorb and store carbon, a critical step toward meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

What can you do to help? If you’ve been affected by fires and soil erosion, there are a multitude of resources available to help you recover and restore your environment, a few are listed below. Fortunately, revegetation may occur naturally after the fire. However, it is important to protect the soil as quickly as possible after a wildfire. The Forest Service has a few tips:

  • Mulch to establish ground cover to reduce the risk of soil erosion.
  • Build back the soil structure by reseeding native grasses to hold the soil in place and add nutrients and carbon back into the soil. 
  • Create barriers with straw wattles, sandbags, silt fences, or straw bale check dams to prevent further erosion.
  • Introduce red wigglers, our eco-system engineers, to help expedite the timeline for soil recovery.
  • Avoid introducing non-native species which damage the soil and harm native plants.
Adding composting worms to our home composting bins and/or directly to the soil in our yards will dramatically improve the amount of carbon we can store in the soil. Climate solutions are much easier than we realize. Act today! CLICK here.

Continued vigilance is required to prevent aggressive invasive species from taking over after a fire. According to the National Forest Foundation, they will continue to be a threat until native plants, trees, and shrubs are established.


Next Steps

  • Take preventative steps to protect your soil from eroding.
  • Add groundcover to secure and improve the soil.
  • Plant diverse native species of plants, trees, and shrubs.
  • Work with local organizations to add native trees, plants and shrubs to public spaces.
  • Pay attention to changes being made in your area, and make your voice heard.
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Winter Activities for Kids | Climate Change

Washington (GGM) Analysis | January 31, 2021 by Catherine Zacuto, M. Ed.

It’s cold out there! You might be wondering about how to keep the kids busy, active, and productive. While remaining tucked away in the warm, cozy house, you can occupy them as they get ready to be Climate Superheroes! The hope of spring can inspire everyone to dig in and prepare for the near future, a future made better because you are helping fight climate change.

What’s the heart of the matter?

Climate change demands our attention now, and the new administration is on board. Discussing his executive actions on climate change, President Biden confirmed his commitment. “It’s about coming to the moment to deal with this maximum threat that is now facing us, climate change, with a greater sense of urgency.” Every person is needed in the fight, adults as well as children. Utilizing fun, creative activities, we can guide the younger generation to a great appreciation of trees, plants, and soil. 

How does this impact you personally?

Engaging children in climate activities early on will help them internalize the message that they can make a difference in the world. Composting is one activity that allows children to get their hands dirty, literally. From placing food scraps in a jar to turning over compost in a barrel, each step draws youngsters into the process. If you are short on outdoor space, consider gathering food scraps for the community. Your town may have a drop off spot nearby. Composting is more than just a way to keep the kids busy during frosty winter days; it also educates them about the importance of cultivating soil so that it can store more carbon.

Some quick facts:

  • Adding compost to the lifeless dirt transforms it into microbe-filled soil, which stores a giant amount of carbon.
  • Not only does compost increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil, it boosts the nourishment of plants that feed off the soil, enabling the plants to store that much more carbon.
  • Now more than ever, the soil needs more microbes, especially if the US is to be the climate role model for the world, as Mr. Biden hopes. 
  • One of the main goals of the Paris Climate Agreement is soil health. Increasing carbon storage in the soil is the way to achieve this. As countries around the world strive to reach the target carbon neutrality goals set forth in the agreement, composting becomes even more important. The only way to hit our targets is if every household composts.
  • Remember: compost nourishes plants and prevents pests.
  • Compost can be donated to your community for fertilizing common areas.

What can you do about this? 

Start by talking about composting as you make a salad or chop vegetables for soup. Specific elements of compost are right at hand! Reading age-appropriate books about the life of plants, from seed to fruit, will grab the attention of some children. Helpful videos are also available, if your children aren’t maxed-out on screen time. 

Hands-on activities make time fly. Building a climate change project using long-forgotten resources in the attic or garage can lead to a meaningful learning experience for your child. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Primary age children could write and illustrate a book explaining composting. (Your compost jar provides a helpful visual aid.) 
  • Challenge your eight to twelve-year olds to create a game board about composting and its benefits for the climate. Game pieces can be made of card-board or even repurposed barrettes, action-figures, thimbles and who knows what? 
  • Young writers can compose a poem or song about composting. 
  • Budding scientists can keep a record of what goes into the compost bin, carefully observing the color, texture, and smell over time. 
  • Young teens might make a documentary explaining the importance of composting in the fight against climate change. 

These types of projects challenge young people to use 21st Century skills of critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration and they might have fun along the way!

What climate change project are you involved with? We hope you’ll be part of ours! We’re growing a forest in North Dakota. CLICK to find out the awesome details.

Next steps

  • Start gathering your veggie, fruit and other food waste for composting
  • Investigate compost collection methods in your area
  • Find high-interest resources to engage your child (See below)
  • Plan an activity your child will find fun and engaging

Resources

Climate Change for Kids website:

Start Learning

NASA website for kids:

The Greenhouse Effect: Keeping the Balance

Video: Why all life depends on plants (3:06):

https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/videos/spectacular-science/#/1019900995730

Video about composting for young children (5:00):

Composting for Kids With Peppa Pig

SciShow Kids video for kids 8+ (5:00)

Make the Most of Compost!


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