Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halfway to Paradigm Heaven

“The science now tells us that it will be next to impossible for nations to achieve the scale of reductions required in sufficient time to avoid dangerous climate change unless we also remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in vegetation and soils…The power of terrestrial carbon to contribute to the climate change solution is profound.”

“Optimising Carbon in the Australian Landscape” - Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, October 2009

They say that nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging. The WGCS have noticed the 900 gorilla in the room... 'the Legacy Load' - the fact that extraction on a massive scale is urgently needed to stall runaway Climate Change long enough for clean energy to gain critical mass. The Group also notes that the massive potential of 'terrestrial carbon' make it capable of offsetting 25% of our emissions, a huge economic win. It argues for the inclusion of agriculture in the CPRS as an offset provider, but only after the international community agree new rules on definitions and measurement.

But can the world afford the time it will take to draw up new convention, and come to a position on measurement, permanence and additionality that will not offend the purists. The Group says the voluntary market should also be built on 'robust design principles' that guarantee 'permanence' and address 'additionality issues'. Here we see the optimism of those who have only recently entered the swamp of sol carbon sequestration. These are Kyoto terms. Kyoto was designed to keep soil out. We will need more than a new city name to change the paradigm that governs IPCC mindsets. We need new definitions of these terms that make it easy for soil to get in. The definitions currently in vogue were developed to meet the needs of industrial polluters, not those business engaged with biological cycles.

Even people working in the biophysical area were seduced by the idea that soil would never fit in, because of the dominance of the Kyoto mindset (which had Mick Keogh bluffed over at the Farm Institute) but this was because they had little knowledge of soil biology, which is the powerhouse of soil carbon activity. And they hadn't seen the gorilla... the four aces in their hand.

Agriculture doesn't need to ask permission any more. The genie is out of the bottle. If the silently depressed masses - suffering from the sense of despair that they can't share with each other - hear about this 'cure' for Climate Change, they will
demand it, ripping up the rule books and sacking the offices of the rule makers.

So the Wentworth Group have made the leap across the chasm separating the to paradigms of soil carbon, and made it halfway. Let's see them complete the job - sit down with like-minded folk and use their considerable talents to help fashion the solutions needed. Or simply endorse some of the many solutions that are bubbling up from below, where the microbes grow.

No comments: