Safer, more effective and longer lasting: Scientists should forget geoengineering and embrace regenerative farming
02/06/2019 // Rita Winters // Views

According to the Oxford Geoengineering Program, geoengineering is defined as a deliberate, large-scale intervention in the Earth's natural systems to counteract climate change. Recent news shows that the U.S. National Research Council endorsed a proposal to “envelope” the planet in sulfate aerosols to reduce solar radiation and to cool down the planet. However, the proposal has been widely criticized for the plan's unintended consequences, such as ozone depletion, ocean acidification, and reduced rainfall in tropical areas. Furthermore, geoengineering does not address the fact that economic and industrial systems have a huge effect on our natural environment.

In direct contrast to geoengineering, regenerative agriculture may be the solution many people are overlooking. Regenerative agriculture is an approach to food and farming systems that regenerates the topsoil and increases biodiversity over the long term. In the process, regenerative agriculture lowers down carbon levels significantly. This method enhances water cycles and creates a natural resilience to changes in climate as well as strengthen the health of farming and ranching communities.

Not many governments are looking into this method due to its speculated costs for scientific research. Studies, on the other hand, have proven to be a necessary and effective expense. The study entitled "Soil Carbon Sequestration Impacts on Global Climate Change and Food Security" authored by R. Lal from Ohio State University Columbus shows that regenerative agriculture in the form of soil carbon sequestration, or isolating chemicals in the atmosphere, increases crop yields and has a potential to offset fossil fuel emissions by 0.4 to 1.2 gigatons of carbon annually.


Another study entitled "Towards the real green revolution? Exploring the conceptual dimensions of a new ecological modernisation of agriculture that could ‘feed the world’" by authors L. G. Horlings and T. K. Marsden from Wageningen University and Cardiff University, respectively, recommends agro-ecological approaches such as farming modernization that contributes to “feeding the world” and reduction of side effects of the current dominant food regime.

While regenerative agriculture suggests a shift in agricultural practices, it also connotes a better relationship with nature. This is more beneficial than what geoengineering has to offer, because regenerative agriculture aims to mimic nature and not dominate it. Farming should be beneficial to both humans and nature itself. Nature provides us with everything we will ever need, and if we do not take care of it, we lose the Earth's inherent ability to provide us with our needs. Instead of controlling nature, which of course cannot be controlled, we should find more ways to work with it.

It is also difficult for people to come up with new methods in line of regenerative agriculture because we have amassed decades of technologies that are against nature. It also entails a deeper and more scientific understanding of the natural world, which is a very complex subject. Geoengineering foregoes these natural laws: If the world is too hot, we make it cooler but without thinking of the consequences.

As the nutritional content of the food we eat determines our health, so is the relationship between soil and plants. Poor soil results in poor crops, and nutrient-rich soil produces good crops, and lots of it. Regenerative agriculture aims to enrich soil automatically (as an effect of a full agricultural cycle).

Geoengineering offers a quick fix for the atmospheric problems we are currently facing, but this quick fix does not address the source of the problem, which will result in a short-term solution. Body pains can be “solved” by pain killers, but the cause of the pain is not eliminated. Through a healthy lifestyle, we rid ourselves of unnecessary pains and prevent diseases, which should be the same approach in addressing environmental concerns. Instead of applying pain relief medication to the planet's pains, we should make it healthier.

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