Extreme Temperature Diary-Friday November 22nd, 2019/Fall Farming and Sustainability via Climate Central

Friday November 22nd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😉

Fall Farming and Sustainability Via Climate Central

I had the distinct pleasure and experience of being around farms owned by relatives on my mother’s side of the family in upstate North Carolina when I was a teenager during the 1970s. One of my cousins even showed me how to milk a cow, which most people in our ever increasingly urban environment have never done. So, I do have at least a rough simpatico feel for what farmers are going through. Since the mid 20th century and even before that time most farmers have had to adjust to an ever changing economic environment of demand for their products, markets, and methods for harvesting and storing produce. Now as we begin to start the 2020s add increasing demand for organics and a relatively new environmental catch phrase, “sustainability” to the mix of pressure on farmers for change.

Unfortunately there are a lot of rural residents and farmers who are adverse to change, but if reasoned with through information coming via co-ops and other sources, some farmers will join with their urban brethren to fight climate change through much better soil management and other practices. Profits, of course, will be the main driving force for any change, so any farming practice changes involving sustainability must take into account costs incurred from tilling the soil differently than in the past and how crops are planted, just to name two examples. Everyone, though, who loves farming in the agricultural industry wants to continue what they are doing as far out in the future as possible and logically will embrace change for the good of us all.

Here is what Climate Central has come up with in association with farming during the fall season, dovetailing into today’s main topic:

https://medialibrary.climatecentral.org/resources/fall-farming-sustaining-our-soils-and-planet

Fall Farming: Sustaining Our Soils and Planet

Nov 20, 2019

As Thanksgiving nears, we’re celebrating the farming practices that improve soil health—sustaining our food, storing carbon emissions, and building resilience.

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Thanksgiving is coming—and while you prep your dinner, farmers around the country are preparing their soils for dinners to come. From compost to cover crops, these late-season practices can improve fertility for future years. Healthy soils also promote the health of our planet, by storing carbon dioxide that would otherwise warm the Earth. A peer-reviewed study in the journal Frontiers in Climate— co-authored by scientists from Climate Central and Colorado State—digs deep to unearth the potential benefits. 

According to the authors, a series of “well-known, proven techniques” can help offset our carbon  emissions and their impacts. Some techniques (like composting) add carbon to the soil, while others (like reduced tilling) improve the soil’s ability to keep it there. But in many cases, the benefits don’t stop there. Cover crops can limit runoff in wet years and cut evaporation in dry years, in addition to cooling soils in summer and reducing erosion. In a warming world with heavier downpours and flash droughts (plus $8 billion lost each year from global soil erosion), these practices are more crucial than ever.

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Carbon storage alone could be a major help. Our state graphics show how much carbon dioxide could be stored by these practices—and the number of cars or homes that emit the equivalent CO2. Nationwide, these practices could store 200 million tons of CO2 per year—offsetting the annual emissions of 42 million passenger cars. 

These practices could also lessen the environmental impacts of agriculture itself. Roughly 9% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions relate to agriculture, from fertilizers to farm vehicles—not to mention the indirect impacts of livestock (yes, including cow burps). And while nearly half of the world’s soils are under some form of agricultural use, most of that land is depleted in carbon and other nutrients. 
Restoring that carbon is crucial—especially if
fossil fuel emissions continue to rise. According to a 2018 National Academies report, meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement may require 15 gigatons of global CO2 sequestration per year by 2100. Agricultural soils could provide up to a third of that—more than forest improvements and wetland restoration combined.

METHODOLOGY: Agricultural practices and associated carbon storage potentials are described by Paustian et al. (2019) and Paustian et al. (2017). State totals have been aggregated from 2017 county-level estimates, with 2017 equivalences from the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator. The Global Carbon Project provides context for global emissions.

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In celebration of National Farmers Market week, we show how local farmers are helping the climate by using practices that reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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Thanksgiving weather is variable from year to year, but Novembers are trending warmer across the U.S.

I know that farmers across the Midwest these days are scared. It’s been climatologically too wet in most areas across the midwestern states for at least two years. Some farmers this year could not get their crops in the ground at all. So yes, most farmers are waking up to the problem of climate change and will do everything in their power to combat the problem. This Thanksgiving I’m grateful to all farmers for the wonderful bounty they have given us and at a relatively low price. Let’s support our farmers as we all strive for a better, sustainable world where we can thrive while fighting climate crisis challenges.

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

Here is an overseas “ET:”

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”

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