Why Regenerative Agriculture is the Future of Food

I felt the need to put out an update about regenerative agriculture, or what I like to term resilient agriculture, as there is such an abundance of postings right now! Yeah! We are getting there !!! This article recognizes the smaller farm and knowledge intensive farming practices that also incorporate technology (posted on Aug 1, 2019 at https://brookingsregister.com/article/regenerating-rural-communities)

Neither the pre- nor post-industrialization approaches to farming were perfect. Both periods had strengths and weaknesses. And arguably, both approaches failed to attain their overall goal of a resilient food system.

A new movement has started from the grass roots to challenge the way that we think about farming. In key ways regenerative agriculture pairs what we have learned from the past two phases of farming into a single resilient and profitable system. It is called regenerative agriculture, and it is the future of food production.

Regenerative agriculture focuses on rebuilding soil health and conserving biodiversity to make farm products more nutritious, and farmers more profitable. Central principles of this style of farming are:

1) Stop tilling the soil. Life in the soil is the driver of the land’s productivity. And tillage sets you back, sometimes for years, in soil fertility and productivity.

2) Never leave bare soil. Plants protect the soil from erosion, capture energy from the sun, and support life on the farm. There should always be living roots on the ground.

3) More plant/crop diversity is better than less. The biology is what drives the productivity of a farm. And nearly all groups of organisms (microbes, fungi, birds, insects, etc.) are more abundant and diverse when there are more plants.

Tim and Donna Prior of Brussels Agri Services have a complete line of grazing equipment

4) Integrate livestock and cropping systems. Livestock means more than just cows, because plants and animals work together to make farmers more profitable.

When we follow these four general principles, farmers are more resilient and profitable, and more money stays on the farm. Importantly, farmers extract more than one revenue stream off of a single piece of ground in a year, and they can farm smaller and better. This gives more opportunities for kids to stay on the farm, and improves the natural resource base for future generations to farm.

Seriously, who would want to start farming over a thousand acres as a young person? Quality of life, and the quality of the food being produced, should be primary considerations.

I repost parts of another blog below from https://www.care2.com/greenliving/why-regenerative-agriculture-is-the-future-of-food.html by Mary Daly on Jan9, 2019, which is not too unlike the information I have blogged in the past. Here, the focus is on how food production can also help mitigate climate change.

Agriculture has a strong effect on climate change (and vice versa). While some methods contribute to higher pollution and environmental degradation, others actually have the potential to reverse climate change. And one of those practices is regenerative agriculture.

There is an official definition of regenerative agriculture now (collaborative work of The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative of California State University, Chico and The Carbon Underground).

‘Regenerative Agriculture’ describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity — resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle,” the definition reads. “Specifically, Regenerative Agriculture is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density.

Beautifully stated, which means that instead of having a primary farm mission of “feed the world,” the objective is to continuously improve the land, “using technologies that regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment. The practice also helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — a key factor in battling climate change” (Regeneration International). Thus, farmers aim to feed the soil, support the life of an ecosystem and perhaps even the landscape (keep it beautiful), and contribute to mitigating climate change, leaving the land better than when they found it by:

1. Contributing to soil building and fertility.

2. Improving water cleanliness and retention.

3. Increasing biodiversity, and boost the health of the ecosystem.

4. Lessening CO2 emissions by diverting carbon back into the soil.

By increasing carbon in the soil and reducing emissions and the use of synthetic chemicals, regenerative farming is helping to slow climate change. Well managed grazing of livestock also improves the health of the soil that leads to better land, healthier animals, more nutritious food (it is not just about quantity) and lowers carbon dioxide and methane emissions, … a wonderful chain reaction.

The Priors Grazing Meadows Wagyu

We can talk about benefits to the local economy and the local land too, because this approach to farming preserves “the more traditional, environmentally friendly farming practices that go back generations.” It’s not about feeding the world, but “nourishing communities” (Creutzberg, 2015 as I concluded in my Nuffield Canada report). We need to turn our gaze from this impossible mandate and be real. Communities can nourish themselves through more approachable means of growing food – shifting to a more widespread use of regenerative agriculture.

Climate Stories: The End of a Way of Life in Mongolia

It was a catastrophic era for a country with a tradition of nomadic pastoralism dating back thousands of years. Herders make a living by selling animal products — including meat, wool and cashmere. Without their animals, they become cash strapped and cannot pay for basic needs.

Dzuds, unique to Mongolia, are homegrown natural disasters born out of the country’s unusual environment: landlocked, semiarid and prone to swings in temperature and precipitation.

Bodies of water from his childhood, like the river where he used to swim, have dried up. “In old times, it was not like that,” he says. “Everything was very balanced. We had good rivers and creeks. Now, herders have to rely on water wells. People say it’s because of global warming.”

“Climate change is very complicated”

This touching and heart wrenching story continues at https://www.npr.org/2019/07/29/737990796/the-deadly-winters-that-have-transformed-life-for-herders-in-mongolia

Doing a Powerful Thing to Mitigate Climate Change: RegenAG

To quote from the article reposted below:

Agriculture is said to be one of the single biggest contributors to the destruction of the environment and rising CO2 emissions,” so as regenerative or restorative agriculture, “it is the single most powerful thing we can change to mitigate climate change.

Soil biology is this perfect little symbiotic relationship, that we can embrace and work with, or we can come in and cultivate, spray herbicides and disrupt that system and that cycle.

We bought a farm to have more family time. We’re risking it all to join a natural farming revolution

About a year ago, the purchase of two dairy cows led to the discovery of a revolution in our paddocks.

My partner and I, two young farmers, learned we could rehabilitate the natural environment by the way we farm.

But the stakes were high — making the switch from conventional to conservation farming could send us broke.

So we set out to meet a network of regenerative farmers who are working with nature to eliminate the use of chemicals, revegetate their land, reduce carbon emissions and encourage the return of native plant and animal species.

The lure of a new approach

Our property, on the outskirts of Narrabri in north-west New South Wales, is about 130 acres of mostly farmed-up country.

There are very few trees but we have beautiful black soil and a stunning view of the mountain range to our east.

We bought it because we want to spend our days outside and together as a family.

We got the dairy cows from Ralph and Jo Waters, a hobby farming couple in Bingara, about an hour away.

They are completely self-sufficient, off the grid and chemical free, and have been farming in a more natural way.

They have transformed an old clay tennis court into a food forest by planting successive crops of faba beans.

They use their chooks to naturally fertilise their garden beds and sow native grass seeds into pasture to improve diversity.

As we were loading the cows onto the trailer, Ralph told us they’d been able to stop worming their cows by feeding them a mix of minerals.

We’d never heard anything like it. Not worming seemed irresponsible, and we thought they were a bit whacky.

But they also handed us a book on natural farming, and it got us thinking: could we implement these techniques on our own farm?

Considering we’re in the grip of one of the worst droughts on record, it may not seem like a such a bright idea to go out on a limb, but we figured it had to start raining again at some point.

And we found the idea of revegetating the landscape, eliminating chemical use and working with nature to produce healthy food really appealing.

We knew we had to try.

A dramatic transformation

Our first stop was Colin Seis, a farmer near Gulgong in Central West NSW who has come up with an innovative way of growing crops called pasture cropping.

Normally farmers plant into a pretty bare paddock, but Colin plants a crop directly into existing pasture. This means he doesn’t have to spray out or plough out the previous crop.

I was surprised to learn his initial motivation to start pasture cropping was purely financial.

“We had a major bushfire in 1979 which destroyed everything,” Colin explained.

“We lost most of our sheep, 3,000 sheep out of 4,000, all the buildings, houses, fencing.

“So I had to develop a form of agriculture where I didn’t spend any money at all really, because we couldn’t afford anything.”

Overnight he stopped fertilizing, and stopped resowing introduced pasture species.

He used his sheep to mulch and fertilize a paddock prior to planting a cereal crop for harvest, and then let that crop return to native pastures for the summer, to repeat the process the following year.

Keeping the soil permanently covered with plant matter and using animals to naturally fertilize the paddocks allowed Colin to largely eliminate chemical use.

It led to a dramatic transformation on Colin’s property over the next 20 years — native grass varieties flourished, and so did the diversity.

He now has predatory insects in large enough populations that they actually control the insects that can cause crop damage, so he no longer has to spray pesticides.

“By restoring the grasslands the whole soil ecosystem has changed,” Colin said.

Colin has also tripled the amount of carbon stored in his soil, which means he increased the soil’s ability to sequester carbon dioxide in the air as well as its ability to absorb water.

This increased his resilience to drought.

“If we mimic Mother Nature, it can’t not work,” Colin said.

“It’s worked for millions of years. All we need to do is mimic that a lot closer.”

The roly poly theory

Next we visited the property of Derek and Kirrily Blomfield, who won the prestigious NSW Farmer of the Year award in 2014.

They’ve returned all their farming country — 2,500 acres on the black soil Liverpool Plains — to grazing and completely eliminated chemicals.

In a good year they run around 200 head of cows and calves to produce grass-fed beef, which they sell directly to the public.

They move their cattle around the property in a way that mimics how herd animals naturally move on grasslands, intensively grazing an area for a short period and then moving on.

I was surprised to learn about Derek’s approach to roly poly, a large prickly weed also known as tumbleweed.

He isn’t spraying it or ploughing it out because he’s found it actually helps revegetate his paddocks.

“Wherever there was roly poly plant, in underneath it, the rye grass was thick and green and ended up growing up through the roly poly,” Derek explained.

“And everywhere out in the spaces where the roly poly wasn’t, the rye grass was not half the plant.

“It just really showed us the importance of plants helping plants.”

A fence that's impossible to see for all the dry roly-poly weed piled up against it.

Back home I checked his roly poly theory and sure enough, the best grass was growing in its shelter.

We have so much roly poly on our land, so we could perhaps use it to help restore the health of our soil.

“Soil biology is this perfect little symbiotic relationship, that we can embrace and work with, or we can come in and cultivate, we can come in and spray herbicides and disrupt that system and that cycle,” Derek said.

“You’re in a vortex then. Which has been really effective for some decades but is completely unsustainable.”

Derek’s ecosystems were also falling into place in the absence of chemicals.

An insect called cochineal had all but obliterated a population of Tiger Pear, a particularly nasty, prickly weed that he had previously been concerned about.

Time the most precious commodity

There are a few reasons we think chemical farming is unsustainable.

For one, weeds are becoming resistant to herbicides, in the same way that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

So herbicides are actually making the problem worse, instead of addressing the underlying issues of the disturbed ecosystems and poor soil ecology, conditions in which weeds proliferate.

Medium shot of a woman sitting with children and a dog on a picnic rug in a paddock.

We also think continually stripping out the nutrients in the soil and then trying to replace them by adding nitrogen, a common fertiliser used in intensive cropping, is a band-aid solution to the underlying problem of soil degradation.

Nitrogen improves yields synthetically, as opposed to using natural nutrient cycling of plant and animal matter.

Synthetic fertiliser disrupts soil biology and damages the soil so that it requires increasing amounts of nitrogen.

So if there are natural systems that can do the farming work for us and replace chemical use in the long-term, while at the same time rehabilitating the environment, it seems pointless to spend time and money fighting against nature.

“The most precious commodity there actually is, is time,” Ralph said.

“If you don’t have time to enjoy your family you don’t really have a life, you might think you do, but you’re not really enjoying life itself.

“What we do is geared around making for us a richness of life. We enjoy a much higher standard of living and it’s not measured in dollars.”

A complicated problem

We may not need dollars to be happy, but we do need them to keep our farm alive.

Medium shot of a man standing in a creek holding a baby.

We asked our agronomist, Drew Penberthy, how much money we could make if we straight up farmed the place using chemicals.

“My advice for the biggest cash crop you could do in the quickest amount of time would be put a cereal crop into that country,” he explained.

“You’d get really good ground cover, which would start all your regenerative systems and get more moisture into the soil, but also you’re probably going to have the quickest return on that investment.”

Drew also said we’d need to apply chemicals and minerals, but we’d still end up with a $600 to $700 profit per hectare — that’s about a $20,000 profit in our first year.

There is no way we’ll make that using regenerative practices.

And therein lies a complicated problem.

The restoration of agricultural land relies on farmers like us choosing long-term solutions that may not make the most money initially.

Drew says economies of scale are going to make it difficult for agriculture to change.

“[As] farmers have gotten bigger they’ve expanded and the cost of farming now is a lot higher than it ever used to be, so if you miss a season now it really hits the bottom line,” he said.

“And that’s why it’s so critical to make a profit every year but still trying to make it sustainable.

“It’s a pretty hard thing to try and get right.”

Changing for a better future

We understand the pressures larger farmers face in trying to balance sustainability and profitability, but being a smaller operation we felt like the risks were probably a little more manageable for us.

So two weeks ago we trucked the remaining cattle off our place.

When it starts raining again we’ll plant crops to feed our cattle, and as our cattle mulch and fertilise the soil we’re confident native grasses will reappear.

Down the track this should mean we don’t rely as much on planting crops for fodder, and instead we might harvest the native grass seed that grows naturally.

Cattle will be moved around the property in a way that mimics how herd animals move on grasslands, leaving an area to rest for many months, allowing the soil ecosystem to recover.

We’ve already planted around 100 trees, but I’m aiming for a lot more.

The place is too quiet. We need the birds to come back.

Agriculture is said to be one of the single biggest contributors to the destruction of the environment and rising CO2 emissions, so it’s also the single most powerful thing we can change to mitigate climate change.

And we want to be part of that.

Transforming the Practice and Culture of Agriculture: RegenAG

A regenerative era in Australian agriculture is emerging

“More than a set of alternative farming practices, regenerative agriculture encourages an interdependent relationship between humans and the land, aiming to renew the health of ecosystems, the nutritional integrity of the food supply and the vitality of communities.”

Thoughtful Thursday: Climate Change Mitigation – Keep it Smart and Simple

Carbon Farming for Climate Change Mitigation: It’s Simply Getting Back to Basics. We don’t need fancy policies and hours of meetings. If we are involved in agriculture, we need to become farmers again: dirty finger nails, and time to take in the contentment of livestock (so we catch it early, when they are not).

And it came about that the owners no longer worked their farms. They farmed on paper; and they forgot the land, the smell, the feel of it, and remembered only that they owned it, remembered only what they gained and lost by it.
~John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath (1939)

“My job as a farmer is not to produce; my job is to care for the land. And when I do this properly, this provides for all of us,” say Iowa farmer Seth Watkins.

“The reality is we’re using natural resources on the planet at a rate of 20% faster than they can be restored. It’s a dead-end game.”

The following is adapted from an article by Marie Gewirtz, who represents wine and food clients with marketing and communications in Sonoma County and throughout the world (winewords@sonomawest.com). She speaks to Paul Dolan who believes in the restorative paradigm – that everything is available to us without having to introduce foreign matter onto the farm. He explains the distinction between what nature provides, like the natural cycle of plants taking in carbon from photosynthesis and moving it through the plant into the roots, complemented by restorative practices like building compost, grazing animals, planting cover crops and paying attention to the ecosystem not only below the ground, but also above the ground.

Dolan said, “We can restore 80% of the needs of the plant by using these free natural resources. Merely 1% increase of organic matter in the soil enhances the water holding capacity of the soil by 20,000 gallons per acre.

“Maintaining a healthy balance of flora and fauna on the farm is essential. Hedgerows and insectaries expand the number of plants to appeal to bees and beneficial bugs, which ensure vibrant life energy throughout the property.”

The first step toward regenerative farming is to grow plants that are climate-appropriate for the property. “Grow what belongs here. Be patient. This simple premise guides us in everything we do — how we care for our land, how we farm, how we make wine and olive oil and the myriad other products from this magical place,” explains Evers in defining his philosophy of farming.

“Over the past 30 years with both olives and winegrapes, we have found that Italian varieties are ideally suited to our Mediterranean climate, and facilitate regenerative farming.” Dolan and Evers agree that a farm is a living organism and successful farming requires a balanced give and take relationship with the land. Their farming is guided by the wisdom of this American Indian quote: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Healthy agriculture depends on plant photosynthesis to move carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and into plants. Carbon farming implements practices that improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to soils and plant material. Since regenerative agriculture is one contributor to a solution to climate change, it needs to become mainstream throughout the world.

REFRESHER: Key principles of regenerative agriculture include:
• Spreading compost increases soil vitality by capturing significant amounts of CO2. This builds up microorganisms in the soil and reduces the necessity for synthetic fertilizers. It also minimizes the need for irrigation by increasing the capacity of the soil to hold water.
• Cover crops, legumes and grasses planted between vine or plant rows, naturally build soil health. They help create habitat for beneficial insects, which reduces the need for pesticides. Erosion is reduced because cover crops hold the soils in place. As plants photosynthesize, they produce oxygen for cleaner air.
• No or reduced till. Tilling (or turning over) the soil releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change. By not tilling, carbon dioxide is locked into the soil.

Tending earth’s soil, plants, animals and landscapes is sacred work, … by knowing (once again) the life force that is in our food, farms and communities. Farmers who work on the land recognize that a spiritual practice is integral to the task of growing real food. This is when agriculture becomes a sacred act.” (Deffenbaugh, D.G. 2012. Learning the Language of the Fields: Tilling and Keeping as Christian Vocation. Cowley Publications, Cambridge, MA, USA)

Joanna Macy: “Declare Climate Emergency NOW”

Reposted from http://www.souland.org/blog/declare-climate-emergency-by-joanna-macy.
#DeclareClimateEmergency NOW

Note there is more information in a link at the end of this blog about the events we are encouraging folks to create, on the weekend of May 18/19.

They are as children, playing with their toys in a house on fire. 
~ The Buddha

An invitation to Dharma friends and all who love our beautiful planet and her myriad beings. Let us do what we can.

Breaking the Trance, Finding Refuge Together

This document aims to encourage collective engagement in a challenge so great, a revolution so profound, that everything has to be re-examined, overturned, and reconfigured. It has also arisen from within the Buddhist core ethos and practice of “Avoid evil, cultivate the good, and purify the heart.”

This is a call to action founded in the understanding that the mind precedes all and that action needs to be informed by inner spiritual work for optimum sustainability and success. The core intention of this document is to inspire us to come together to undergo, through deep reflection and sacred ceremony, the recognition that we have moved into a new world, a new calamitous reality that needs all of our conscious, collective engagement.

This is an invitation into a conversation that clearly acknowledges our world has undergone a state shift in the Earth’s biosphere due to exponential warming that is producing regular, devastating, extreme, weather events. The Earth is also undergoing rapid environmental dismemberment due to human activity. We are in the sixth mass extinction and at the cusp of runaway climate feedback loops that are heralding the collapse of human civilization.

In response to the urgency of our time, this document lays out, in brief, a pathway for one practical and vital action. This is to Declare Climate Emergency. This action starts with a conversation within our close relationships and near community, moving out to be requested from institutions, business, and demanded from government. Undertaking this process overcomes denial and procrastination while empowering us to be as creative and radical as we possibly can.

Our old way of high carbon use, of expendable resources, heightened individualism at the expense of the whole, and assuming life will go on as we’ve known it, needs to be recalibrated. For this we need each other, we need to be truthful, we need to undergo deeper levels of renunciation while drawing from the living Dharma, the living spirit of the Earth, and the compassion, truth telling, and power of Sangha, the community.

While the truth that we are headed toward extinction is a terrible shock, it has the potential to quicken our collective awakening powering a profound transformation of our world. This transformation begins within. We need to know ourselves, not only as individuals, but as co-creators within a deeply ensouled web of life where all is conscious. Once we align with the reality and depth intelligence of consciousness itself, we connect with a spiritual and moral power that gifts intuitive wisdom, guidance, and courage. It is this courage that will enables us to stand together to protect mother nature, grandmother earth, and all life.
Making the transition into our new reality, spiritually, psychologically, and in embodied, practical acts, frees us to engage this greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. The enormity of this task, for sanity, health, and well-being, has to be grounded in a careful, listening and mindful embodied presence while supported by daily practices that care for body, heart, and mind and our near relationships.

So welcome to journeying through these steps, we’ll be with you along the way. 

  1. Alignment with the Sacred
  2. Declaring Climate Emergency: Why & Our Demands
  3. Resources & How to Stay in Touch.

1. Alignment with the Sacred
Use Sacred Ceremony
As each piece of news about climate breakdown lands, it generates overwhelming shock, grief, and outrage. Yet, while unbearable, this shock is waking us up. We can honor our awakening process by creating an intentional sacred space and ceremonial process through which we cross the threshold from our old world, and old ways of operating, into conscious engagement with our new reality. Witnessing each other, we can make a firm commitment to align our personal lives, make sacrifices, and together, support each other as we gather the courage to engage. Every one of us is needed, every offering is important. There are many ways we can contribute, each according to their situation. Aligned with spiritual and moral power, resourcing ourselves, with determination and focus, we commit to work for a sustainable world.

Standing Rock on Every Street Corner
Standing Rock on Every Street Corner: Seven Lakota-Sioux Guidelines for Being in a Living Prayer & the Art of Collective Resistance.
We call on the spirit of Standing Rock. The spirit of all ancestors who strived for truth, equity, and freedom, and who embody compassion and wisdom. We call on all protector spirits of the earth, lands, oceans, rivers, forests, plants, and the elements. We call on all the forces of goodness throughout all time and all directions to be present with us now and to add their power, their guidance, and to bring their protection.
We recognize that all beings, even those who through greed, hatred, and delusion destroy and divide, share the same core consciousness. We hold all with compassion. We pray for all. We work for the children and grandchildren of all, regardless.
We recognize that all beings have received the gift of life through the power of Mother Nature, Grandmother Earth and all have the right to be here. We humbly step down from our ego fixation to align with the spirit of truth, wisdom, and compassion.
We ask for guidance at this utmost dangerous time. May our collective awakening quicken exponentially. We join together with purpose focused on the reclamation of the sacred web of life. We make a solemn vow to work to save a sustainable world for the future.

Sacred Activism: Informing Activism with Inner Work
Enduring and successful change movements such as Civil Rights in the US, Satyagraha in India, and Solidarity in Poland, were informed by non-violence, moral authority, and spiritual practice. Essentially, our planetary emergency is a spiritual crisis. We are stuck in a narrative and self-perpetuating reality founded in survival of the ego and its separative consciousness. However, our evolutionary cusp echoes into Indigenous knowledge that understands we live within a web of life and an ensouled world where self and other are in dynamic, consequential relationship.

In essence, we are awakening into the profound intimacy of all things, where we directly know that all beings, nature, the earth, and the cosmos are a part of ourselves. Spiritual practice is the process of embodying the reality of our deep interconnectedness. To enter and live these truths, and to sustain ourselves, we need meditative, devotional and prayerful practices and collective ways of entering mindful spaces of ‘being’, ‘presence’, and listening. Sacred Activism, a term coined by Andrew Harvey marries activism informed by depth compassion and wisdom.

We Should Not Do This Alone
We are in the midst of a Planetary Emergency. This is a watershed moment for humanity, where everything depends on how we respond. As we wake to our new reality, it’s incredibly impactful. We feel profound grief, fear, and outrage; a daily kaleidoscope of reactions and emotions. But we are not alone. Let us turn this pain to strength, clarity and focus so we can face this immense challenge together.
The systemic conditioning, underwriting our crisis, Patriarchy, Colonial Imperialism and Capitalism, leads us to believe we must struggle to survive as individuals, that we rise up or fall as individuals, and that it is our fault if we can’t “make it.” The impact of Disaster Capitalism (Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine) is the perpetuation of the slave-plantation economy upon which capitalism was built, manufacturing divisions through race, class, ethnicity, and nationality for its own exploitative ends.
However, with climate breakdown, we determine to shake off the spell of individualism and fabricated division. Instead, we work together to create new ways of being on this Earth that are collaborative, mutually supportive, empathetic, and authentic. Together, we can take courage and move through the fear of speaking out, of breaking rank, and of being disparaged. We speak up and out. We encourage ourselves and others to be mindful of our personal and communal carbon use. Together we commit to becoming more conscious. Together we are powerful .

Find friends, family members, communities, who are allies.

  • Take time together to speak about what we see, what we feel, what we know.
  • Acknowledge the urgency and enormity of what we face.
  • Bear witness to the loss of species, eco-systems, peoples, whole countries.
  • Create space to share our grief, our fears, our outrage, our hopes, our plans.
  • Create space to celebrate life together, to sing and dance and share food, to inhabit the best of our human-being-ness in connection and community, to share successes and good news and resources which uplift and restore us.

Orient Around a Statement of Purpose, e.g., this one inspired by G. Monbiot.
The world has been thrown into climate chaos, caused by fossil fuel companies, the billionaires who profit from them and the politicians they have bought. It is time to confront these oligarchs through massive mobilization, collective moral authority, acts of non-violent civil disobedience and a movement so big and politically dangerous that governments are forced to shut down the fossil fuel economy and restore the benign conditions in which humans and other species can thrive.
In Brief: We will hold unfettered corporate and political power accountable. We join forces to ensure that the sustainable, equitable, world we long for is secured.

The Power of Support Groups
Information doesn’t necessarily translate into behavioral change. We know what we need to do, but can’t always do it. However, working together is very effective. As we get active and engaged, creating support groups is a first step:

  • Join with others to create a plan of action, exploring and going over the details, how to do it, who to approach, materials needed, who is doing what.
  • Ground your action in mindfulness and group process, where everyone is heard, feelings and experiences are honored, and feedback is welcome.
  • While respectful listening is appropriate to those with experience in certain fields, when wisdom and compassion is offered, to those organizing, taking risks, doing more work, avoid power hierarchies and rigidity.
  • Engagement on the ground requires fluidity, communication, openness and agility. Non-violence inwardly and outwardly is a vital spiritual practice.
  • When an action finishes, take time to come back together, process, and support each other. Be sure to follow up with each other and on the outcome of your action.

2. Declaring Climate Emergency: Why & Our Demands
As we face climate breakdown, urgency intensifies daily. We have no time to lose and need governments, city and town councils, state legislatures, religious and educational institutions, business, civil society, leaders, families, and each one of us to respond assertively and swiftly to reverse rapid environmental breakdown.
It is time to break the spell of procrastination, denial and bargaining, and to break silence and dispel all ambiguity, by immediately declaring a Climate Emergency followed by strategies, investment, and radical changes that produce real outcomes.
We must mount a decisive response to our planetary emergency. Only a united national and global demand has the power to focus intention and overcome distraction, overwhelm, helplessness, and denial. The moral authority of collective action has the potential to shape political policy and direct economic resources to avoid further collapse of ecosystems and human civilization. We can each be a part of that.
But only if we act now. 
The reality of our dire situation is made clear by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published October 2018 by 91 scientists from 40 countries who received over 6000 references and 42,000 expert and peer reviewed publications. The report states: “Unprecedented changes are required if we are to avoid climate breakdown.” To avoid devastation and likely extinction, it is imperative we stay under the 1.5 °Celsius target established by the Paris Accord. However, according to a 2017 Nature Climate Change paper from the University of Washington, we have only a 1% chance of doing this and only 5% chance temperatures will be less than 2 °Celsius .

This alarming reality, and what it means for us, needs to be named and discussed on news outlets daily. 
In order to be motivated enough to increase political pressure, citizens need to be cognizant of our precipitous situation. We are already witnessing major tipping points: massive global ice loss, extreme ocean warming, failure of reef systems and crops, floods, droughts, wildfires, the destruction of wild habitat, and the rapid erosion of wildlife, ocean, insect and plant life.

If we continue burning fossil fuels and promoting animal industrial agribusiness, by 2030 a cascade of severe tipping points will begin to radically shift the world as we know it, meaning we could have an unrecognizable world as early as 2040. If we do not act to prevent this outcome, we will be condemning our children, our grandchildren, the generations to come, marginalized and under-resourced communities, low lying cities and lands, islands, most living species, and — sooner rather than later — all life on earth, to famine, chaos, catastrophic migrations, violence, and extinction. Facing up to our possible extinction is an immense shock. Yet, while the pull of despair and resignation is understandable, allowing a slide into chaos and unimaginable suffering is unthinkable. Instead, together, we have the power not only to avert this tragedy, but to build the sustainable, equitable, and more beautiful world of our highest dreams. We start by reducing carbon use in our lives, reaching out to others, and making a commitment to join together to demand governments and institutions Declare Climate Emergency.

Telling the Truth is Essential for Change
We need governments and media to tell the truth. They must state we are in a climate emergency, and that it is time to act. We must normalize a sense of urgency by sharing facts and by exploring radically new ways of living — through non-violent civil disobedience, by being on the streets, by speaking out, and by being part of a fast-growing international movement to drive government, industry, and business to act. We need the solutions — which are already there — to be implemented immediately.

This is the time for boldness, for not holding back.
While we are in a struggle against our own inertia and self-interest — the time and energy-consuming challenges of sustaining a livelihood, of supporting a family, of meeting responsibilities and attending to duties — the greatest threat is from those with immense power who in their utter ruthlessness welcome climate devastation as a means to seize as many assets as they can, plundering whatever is left. They know what is coming, and instead of reversing mass ecocide, they disseminate denial, distort facts, lie and obfuscate. Oil empires like ExxonMobil and entities like Koch Industries have known for decades that fossil fuels would lead to the terror of severe weather events that are now unleashed. Instead of public warnings and consequential acts to defend against climate breakdown, they willfully hide the facts, obstruct green energy and fund extreme climate-denying campaigns while seeking to control and manipulate democratic processes and media messaging through the vast reach of their wealth.

This profound betrayal of life itself has to be defined as a crime against humanity. 
We would be naïve to underestimate the power of those who are in the throes of destroying the collective future of all life on this planet for their own benefit. This is why we must be bold and transform outrage into a united fight for our collective lives. In spite of the malevolent and malicious powers acting against the welfare of the whole, the power of the people, standing up together, has always been greater.

Extinction Rebellion’s Central Climate Demands
Groups like Youth Climate StrikeSunrise MovementIdle No MoreIndigenous Climate ActionClimate Justice Alliance, represent a variety of approaches that share a common focus. Similarly, these demands, from Extinction Rebellion (XR) are an excellent focus.
1. Governments must tell the truth about the climate and the wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside media to communicate with citizens.
Governments must tell the truth about how deadly our situation is, they must reverse all policies that do not align with that position and must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals, communities and businesses need to do
2. Governments must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025* and to reduce consumption levels.
Good intentions and guidelines won’t save the ice caps. Governments must enact legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. They must cooperate internationally so that the global economy runs on no more than half a planet’s worth of resources per year.
3. National Citizens’ Assemblies to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.
By necessity these demands require initiatives and mobilization of similar size and scope to those enacted in times of war. We do not however, trust our Government to make the bold, swift and long-term changes necessary to achieve this and we do not intend to hand further power to our politicians. Instead, we demand a Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as we rise from the wreckage, creating a democracy fit for purpose.
4.** We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty, establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all.
* The bind we are in is we need to radically reduce carbon emissions, which if done at high speed could crash the economy resulting in massive human casualties (unless there is a World War II style mobilization and immediate and vast investment in renewables). However, not reducing green-house gas emissions at warp speed will also result in massive casualties, and likely extinction. Whatever happens will be immensely challenging for us all. There is no easy way forward. This is not a document laying out detailed solutions, but rather an urgent call to action, with the understanding that as governments, civil society, business and each of us proactively participate, we will be part of the solution, and will activate an unstoppable momentum.

**The fourth demand from US XR is applicable to countries and peoples who suffered colonialism, slavery, and all ecosystems plundered and animals and species threatened.
Demands 1 and 2The Climate MobilizationBeyond Zero EmissionsRapid Transition AllianceGreen New Deal GroupOne Million Climate Jobs and The Breakthrough Institute.

Demand 3The Sortition Foundation.
What Needs to Happen to Secure the Future
In Accordance with the IPCC Report summary,each country must reduce emissions to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which means, according to Scientific American, carbon emissions need to fall by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. The rate at which nations would need to reduce their emissions each year to reach those targets becomes steeper, and less attainable, every year emissions continue to rise. This means, according to a UN separate report on the “emissions gap”, that if actions to reduce are not strengthened by 2030, the 1.5C target will slip out of reach. This suggests the Paris commitments need to be tripled to reach a 2 C target and increase five-fold to reach a 1.5 C target. It’s important to understand that at 2 C the world radically changes.
Some points below are informed by XR.

  • Transform energy systems, invest in renewables and phase out fossil fuels.*
  • Increase insulation in buildings. Switch to green construction materials.
  • Transform agricultural systems reducing meat and dairy & erosion of topsoil. Invest in local plant-based agriculture, education, & food. End factory farms.**
  • Radically increase tree cover & hemp-based products to absorb C02, methane.
  • Invest in public transport, high speed rail, cut flights through a frequent flyer levy.
  • Countries, particularly those whose wealth is founded in colonial extraction, invest in other countries to develop clean technology.
  • Phase in carbon taxes for corporations & impactful fines for pollution.
  • Transfer government subsidies from the oil industry and animal factory farms to renewable green energy and plant based local agriculture.
  • A draw down of militarization and ending of massive military pollution driving climate and systems collapse. Accountability, from a people’s assembly, for the war industry. ***

*A Note on Nuclear Energy:
We are in the midst of an energy revolution where our relationship to nature is being reconfigured at speed. Because our immediate challenge is transitioning from high carbon producing energy, there is an argument that nuclear is the pathway forward. However, we need to be conscious that nuclear power poses a menacing force that has a poisonous and many-generational impact. The splitting of the atom, a Prometheus moment, heralded a petrifying age of feasible mass destruction that has overshadowed the planet since. Chernobyl and Fukushima are warnings of our inability to control nuclear power, (here.) As we reimagine and regenerate our relationship to the natural world and our energy needs, there is the potential to reassess our allegiance to nuclear power while at the same time demanding a global ban on nuclear weapons.

From Nuclear Energy Information ServiceYou Can’t Nuke Global Warming
**A Note on Plant-based Agriculture & Diet:
Animal agriculture is arguably the most destructive industry facing the planet today, in terms of climate change, deforestation, water use, species extinction, waste, ocean health, and land use (ref). And the harsh reality is that the purpose of animal agriculture in any form (whether factory farms or “happy” farms) is to incarcerate, steal from, and kill sentient beings in a practice of mass violence that is perfectly acceptable to most of society.

Our current climate crisis demands that we look at each aspect of life through the lens of how our choices, individually and collectively, contribute either to accelerating or decelerating climate breakdown. As Dharma practitioners, we are also challenged to look through the lens of how our choices align with the core values of non-harming and truth telling. This document is not proposing particular solutions, but, rather, honors and celebrates that each individual and community will have its own creative path and own particular needs in relationship to the many solutions, actions and choices available for moving forward.

That said, our intention is that part of this individual and collective work includes an honest look at our relationship with consuming animals and their products, and asking the difficult questions around whether this practice is still sustainable given what we know about science, and still ethically feasible given what we know about the harm and death we cause to millions (some estimates say billions) of land and sea animals every single day. This crisis point offers us an opportunity to reassess our current practices to see whether they are consonant or dissonant with a world that must mobilize against climate breakdown and in which violence of all forms must be addressed and healed if we are to survive.
***A Note on the Military Driving Global Warming & Systems Collapse

The Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy, and is among the world’s biggest polluters. The pursuit of imperialistic wars underwrites oil extraction from invaded countries and leaves a colossal and malignant legacy of intractable chemical pollution, like depleted uranium, pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange, jet fuel and oil around the world. Military action alone resulted in 90 percent desertification in Iraq. The energy used by bloated militaries, which also perpetuate the arms industry to catastrophic effect, outstrips the oil used by many countries. The release of 20,000 tons of environmental “stressors,” including heavy metals and explosives into coastal waters of the US Pacific Northwest in 2017, and continuing, by the US Navy further destroys an already fragile ecosystem while replicating a pattern of massive environmental destruction around the world.

The unseen impacts of war are not usually discussed in the mainstream, but it’s important to heighten awareness as raising consciousness is a primary instigator of transformation. It is also essential to trace the cause of such massive aggression to the human mind. We are the crisis but we are also the solution. Many who enter the military land up becoming advocates for peace, like the thousands of US Veterans who travelled to Standing Rock to ask forgiveness of the Native peoples for the travesties of the past, and to join in nonviolent resistance to protect the Missouri River. Mni Wiconi: Water is Life.

Reaching Out
When approaching others or institutions to engage around a declaration of climate emergency, it’s effective to start by saying who we are, the terror felt by climate breakdown and the collapse of environmental systems. Be personal and authentic. Speak from the heart. Join together with others to make the case. Present the facts.
If you have a particular affinity and skills set, (religious, business, political, or have a connection by geography, nationality, identity), aim to contextualize your approach with your shared world view. Bear in mind that none of us are experts when it comes to living within the 6th mass extinction and the Anthropocene. We aren’t presenting ourselves as experts, but as citizens alarmed by our planetary emergency while passionate about making the changes we urgently need. We are primarily focused on influencing political power and democratizing and empowering citizens’ assemblies who can act in our and nature’s collective best interest.

We Know the Facts. We Have the Technology. We Need the Political Will
3. Resources
Inspirators of the Movement
Heading for Extinction Gail Bradbrook, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion UK
Wes Clark interviews Margaret Klein-Salamon & Ezra Silk of Climate Mobilization
Interview with Native American Pennie Opal Plant, KPFA Visionary Activist Show.
Greta Thunberg, Youth Activist from Sweden, speaks at World Economic Forum
Greta Thunberg’s Climate School Strike goes Global
Climate Activists Can Learn a Lot from Black Lives Matter
Conservatives & Climate Change
Interview with Katharine Hayhoe Evangelical, Conservative Climate Scientist
Direct Action Everywhere Stop Violence to Animals, co-founder Wayne Hsiung

Declarations of Climate Emergency Are Already Happening
Cities, Councils That Have Declared Climate Emergency
To date over 305 councils have declared a climate emergency in the UK, Australia, Canada, and the US alongside cities such as London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Bristol, Sheffield, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Oakland, and Berkeley.

Primary Climate – DCE Sites
Get your Council to Declare
Declare Climate Emergency UK
Climate Emergency Resource Site
Extinction Rebellion
Carbon Offsets Supporting Innovative International Initiatives (& why it’s a temporary solution)

Campaign Against Climate Change 
London Mayor Unveils plan to Tackle Climate Emergency
Vancouver Approves Motion to Declare Climate Emergency
Oakland Declares Climate Emergency
LA Council Members call for CE Mobilization Dept
Cities & Local governments that have declared committed 
The Bipartisan Climate Solution (USA)
The International Resource on Climate Emergency
Climate Emergency Meeting
London Borough of Lewisham Declares Climate Emergency
San Francisco Aggressive Game Plan to Tackle Climate Change
Climate Mobilization: Local Draft Implementation Plans

How to Get Climate Emergency Passed in Governing Bodies
Resource Pack from the Green Party UK for Getting DE Passed
Stroud District Council (Gloucestershire UK) Implementation of Climate Change Motion
People and Planet UK: Students campaigning for climate change, worker and migrant rights.
BBC Tell the Truth re Climate Breakdown
Make Ecocide a Crime Polly Higgins UK, Ecocide Law Expert

Conscious Food
Food is Power: Your Food Choices Can Change the World
Badass Vegan: You can still be cool and be vegan
Happy Cow: Eating out vegan
Vegan Challenge + great vegan starter pack + other great resource

Governments Must Call a World War II Scale Climate Mobilization
They must act and legislate for the survival of all, not just special interest groups, the elite, and the billionaire class.
Climate Mobilization  works with Extinction Rebellion to mobilize on a massive scale

4. Stay In Touch
We can do this. But it will be more powerful if we all do this.

Join In: 18/19 May Full Moon 

We invite you to use the auspicious occasion of the full moon of Wesak, the remembrance of the Buddha’s awakening, over the weekend of the 18/19th May to Declare Climate Emergency Now.
Sign up here to stay connected to this initiative. In the coming weeks, we plan to:

  • Offer a guide and resources that you might use for a Declare Climate Emergency Now gathering on or around the Wesak weekend (May 18/19).
  • Announce a live webinar you and your community can join on Friday or Saturday of that weekend (May 17 or 18).
  • Have a community/ Sangha gathering in San Francisco (venue to be decided). If you can’t join us there, join us from your home base.

Join in From Where You Are 
Host a gathering of family, friends, sangha at your home or another’s home local to you. Or at your local sangha venue, or any other venue that is easy to access. If you can’t do the 18/19th May, find a time that works for you and for your community.
What to do? 
Use the guide on this page to explore what declaring climate emergency means for you, your friends, family, sangha.

An opportunity to share 
This is a great occasion to cook, or have a shared pot luck vegan meal, and to strengthen community refuge, which is vital for the times ahead.

Share Your Event 
Do a short write up or video and send it back to us. There will be a landing page on One Earth Sangha to build momentum, support and inspiration.

We Are the Change
We Are the Power
We Are Nature
We are the Earth’s Immune System Rising

Compiled by Thanissara Mary Weinberg, Buddhist Minister, Sacred Mountain Sangha.
Author of Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth
Thanks for feedback, input, edits, from: Joanna Macy, Richard Heinberg – Post Carbon Institute, Jan Boudart – Nuclear Energy Information Service, Charity Kahn & Anita Kline – San Francisco Insight, Mark Ovland – Actions & Logistics for XR UK, Joanna Graham – Green Party UK, Gwen Gordon – Project InsideOut, Sebene Selassie – Sacred Mountain Sangha, Kittisaro – Sacred Mountain Sangha. Yong Oh – Sacred Mountain Sangha. Gayle Markow.

An initiative of Sacred Mountain Sangha in Collaboration with One Earth Sangha
Working DCEN team: Thanissara, Anita Kline, Charity Kahn, Kitty Costello, Kristen Barker.

For more info and to sign up

https://oneearthsangha.org/programs/dcen/ Also, in the final version of the document, http://sacredmountainsangha.org/climate-emergency/, there is more information about the events we are encouraging folks to create, on the weekend of May 18/19.

Congratulations to Kiss the Ground and their Partnership with General Mills!

I quote:

General Mills is granting $650,000 to nonprofit organization Kiss the Ground to support farmer training and coaching through Soil Health Academies, where growers will learn how to increase farm profitability, build resiliency into the land and decrease input costs using soil health practices.

“Investing in soil health and regenerating our soils has numerous benefits, including water infiltration, reduced pest pressure, resilience to unpredictable weather and reducing greenhouse gasses,” said Lauren Tucker, executive director of Kiss the Ground. “We have an opportunity to not just sustain our natural resources but to restore them for generations to come. We can only advance the adoption of these practices that benefit people and the planet if we partner with and support our farmers.”

See more of this article about General Mills pledges healthy soil practices on 1m acres. They began to work on this initiative with the Nature Conservancy in 2016  (www.nature.org).

Leading by Mandala by Nurete Brenner and Elizabeth Meacham

Yes, Exactly!! Thank you for posting this article Nurete Brenner and Elizabeth Meacham. I am amazed how many of us are doing the same work – jewels everywhere, like Indra’s Net, all over the globe.

Liz and Nurete (L to R)

Lake Erie Institute

The old myths and images that sustained us in earlier periods are no longer serving us during this time of breakdown of the old and the uncertainty about the future. The lone wolf, the frontiersman, the all-powerful superhero – these tropes fade into irrelevance as it becomes clear that no messianic figure is going to step forward and part the sea for us. We need to find new stories to accompany us and new images to illuminate the path as we shift from a patriarchal-hierarchical structure to a collective, relational, participatory one born in partnership rather than domination.  Women’s leadership is the emergent idea that leadership is about co-creating a new story for the world during a time of radical transformation in Earth history.

The word “leadership” stems from the Indo-European root leith which means to cross a threshold. How does…

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