April 22 is Earth Day | A Word in the Ear of Climate Change Skeptics | #LuvOrganic
Hear what farmers have to say about climate change and the difference organic agriculture can make.
Dear Climate Change Skeptics,
Every year on April 22, we celebrate Earth Day. The goal this year is to achieve global climate and environmental literacy in the space of three years. A tall order considering the odd notions some world leaders have on climate change, doubting even its very existence.
A step on to a farm, and a word with a farmer could shed some light on how climate change is affecting their ability to live off the land and put food on our tables. If this farmer happens to be an organic farmer, they can tell you that climate change-induced weather extremities, such as drought, of course, affect them. Still, they manage to grow food. Their secret is in the soil.
Organically managed soils are like sponges, soaking up water in times of heavy rainfall and releasing it when rains fail.
Sounds like a great solution, I hear you say, why don’t more farmers do this?
They probably would if information on how to farm organically was widely available and accessible. Instead the only advice many get is from representatives of companies selling agro-chemicals. When looking for sustainable weed and pest control alternatives to soil destroying toxic inputs, farmers often hear a sales pitch for products whose supposed safety is based on manipulated science.
Instead of learning about how to naturally nourish soils, the purchase of nitrogen-based fertilizers is encouraged and even subsidized. Not good for Mother Earth given that the University of California, Berkeley, has found increased fertilizer use over the past 50 years responsible for a dramatic rise in atmospheric nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas accelerating climate change. What’s more, fear of change is fuelled by the myth we need chemicals to feed the growing population.
Yet a word with an organic farmer can tell you otherwise.
An organic farmer will tell you how they use a variety of methods to sustainably build fertility in their soils such as cover cropping and green manure, how they use natural enemies of pests as pest control, how their land is more resilient to droughts due to its better water retaining capacity and how they tackle climate change by keeping carbon in the soil.
They say knowledge is power. So, what can we do?
Call on policy-makers to give farmers access to the knowledge and skills needed to farm organically instead of subsidizing the purchase of synthetic inputs and the promotion of marketing claims. We need to facilitate farmer-to-farmer exchanges and focus extension services on up-skilling farmers. Governments should also direct funding toward participatory research on the multiple benefits of organic agriculture.
But don’t just take our word for it. In the video above you can hear what farmers have to say about climate change and the difference organic agriculture can make.
Happy Earth Day!