Winter in America 2009. Passing through the darkest period of the
winter solstice, shrouded by the gloom and doom of climate destruction,
war, and economic depression, making our way around the broken promises
of “change we can believe in,” we nonetheless find ourselves
celebrating life and the redemptive power of a global Organic
Revolution. We at the Organic Consumers Association are fired up for
action, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you and our sisters and
brothers in the organic community, now millions strong, at this turning
point in history.
We believe that 2010
and the new decade is the end of the road for chemical food and GMO
agriculture. It is also the beginning of the end for non-sustainable,
fossil fuel-based transportation and industry, and a
“profit-at-any-cost” economy based upon over-consumption, war, and
commercial conquest. We invite you to join us on the organic road, the
Via Organica, as we dismantle the old system and rebuild the new,
starting with our local households, communities, and regions.
BEYOND THE DARK DAYS
Is This What Democracy Looks Like?
In 2009, indentured politicians, bought and sold by the corporate
elite, crushed our hopes for peace and prosperity by spending trillions
of our tax dollars on war, Wall Street, and corporate welfare, instead
of funding organic transitions and a Green New Deal. In 2010 we must
begin to reverse these warped and dangerous public policies and rein in
corporate greed, before it’s too late.
Will We Survive the Climate Crisis?
World leaders left the UN climate talks in Copenhagen without an agreement to reduce the threat of deadly greenhouse gases. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere already exceeds the dangerous tipping point of 350ppm. We’re currently at 387ppm. Even if we were able to reduce CO2 to 350ppm, we would still experience a 2.7 degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature by 2100, but life on the planet would remain possible.
If we continue with business as usual, in 2100 the level will be 965ppm CO2 (+ 8.6 F). If the world acts on proposals for CO2 reduction confirmed in Copenhagen, in 2100 the level will be 770ppm CO2 (+ 7 F). That’s the best-case scenario right now, a 7 degree F average temperature rise, and some predict it could come as early as 2060, in time for you or your children to experience Climate Hell first-hand. Unless we reverse climate global warming, the Earth, which is expected to have nine billion people in 2050, will have a carrying capacity for only one billion – or less.
If it’s hard for you to imagine what life might be like as sea levels rise, droughts and floods become ever more common, the world’s forests burn, glacier-fed rivers dry up, and a quarter of the planet’s mammals go extinct, read this terrifying short story, “Diary of an Interesting Year.”
The Sun Returns! The Future is Organic!
One way or another, either planned or through necessity, humanity will
return to organic and traditional agriculture, because it is the only
farming system that can supply the world with sufficient quantities of
healthy food in the emerging era of global warming, erratic weather,
declining fossil fuels and water scarcity. There is no other way.
In 2009, the Organic Consumers Association spent a good part of our
efforts focusing on the connection between global warming and
industrial agriculture and the promise of organic agriculture to
mitigate and reverse climate change by:
1) Drastically reducing the global industrialized food system’s 44-57% share of global greenhouse gas emissions, and
2) Sequestering billions of tons of CO2.
If we converted the world’s 3.5 billion acres of farmland to
organic, we would sequester 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions,
removing excess CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil,
where it belongs.
If we also organically managed the world’s 11 billion acres of pastures, rangelands and forests we could potentially sequester 100% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Making the Organic Transition: Taking on the Fertilizer, Garbage and Sludge Industries
The reason industrial agriculture erodes and depletes the soil food
web, destroying plants, trees, and soil’s natural capacity to clean the
atmosphere and sequester CO2, is the suicidal use of billions of pounds
of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, soil destroying pesticides,
herbicides and fungicides, insecticidal GMO crops, factory farm waste,
and toxic sewage sludge instead of organic compost and cover crops. In
2010 OCA will begin to expose this deadly chemical and GMO attack on
the planet’s soil food web and make genuine certified organic
fertilizer and compost the norm, rather than just the green alternative.
In the US, we throw away, as food waste, 40% of all of our food each year. Production of that wasted food accounts for more than one-quarter of the US’s total annual freshwater consumption and equates to 300 million barrels of oil. Even worse, this enormous volume of non-composted food waste rotting in
landfills emits tremendous amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 20-70
times more damaging than C02.
In the U.S. today about 80 gallons of water per day per person is
flushed or drained into our vast and ill-designed sewage system, much
of it being valuable potable water flushed down the toilet. In the sewage or wastewater stream, this household sewage
(unfortunately, in most households, already carrying toxic chemicals
from non-organic body care, home cleaning products and pharmaceutical
drugs) is mixed with hospital and industrial waste, pharmaceuticals,
street storm water run-off and chemical lawn and farm run-off as it
enters into the so-called “sewage treatment” plant. After nominal
“treatment” this wastewater is sent downstream for the next community
to chemically treat it and declare it “safe,” while billions of pounds
of toxic sludge are left behind.
Instead of isolating and containing America’s toxic sewage sludge as
hazardous waste–which is what it is–industry and city governments
save money by renaming this toxic sludge as “biosolids” and spreading
it on non-organic farms (and backyard gardens and public lands) across
the country. One of the most outrageous practices is the sale (in
garden supply stores) or giveaway (to schools and backyard gardeners)
of toxic sewage sludge as “organic fertilizer” or “organic compost.”
The EPA has aided and abetted this hazardous practice for several
decades by claiming that the toxic chemical poisons, heavy metals,
pathogens, pesticides, and pharmaceutical drug residues routinely
contained in sewage sludge are diluted to “acceptable levels.” In 1998,
the Organic Consumers Association and the organic community successfully fought to keep toxic sewage sludge out of national organic standards, but we now need to ban sewage sludge on non-organic farms (and all land applications) as well.
In the organic future, valuable organic matter in the waste stream
will neither be wasted nor mixed with other garbage or toxins. It will
be separated at the source, at homes and businesses, mixed with animal
manures and green wastes in a central location, and made into valuable
organic compost (natural fertilizer or food for the soil). This organic
compost can then be supplied to organic and transition-to-organic
farms, backyard gardens, landscaping, and other land use applications.
This is the only way we can eliminate the two billion pounds of
chemical fertilizers applied to non-organic farms every year in the
U.S. which contaminate the atmosphere, kill the soil, and destabilize
the climate with nitrous oxide; meanwhile polluting city tap water and
killing fish and marine life, creating massive “dead zones.”
Zero waste recycling and the creation of an abundant, affordable
supply of organic compost is an essential part of our organic future.