Non-profit promotes healthy soils produced through organic agriculture as solution to climate crisis
After helping build New Chapter into the leading natural vitamin and supplement company, Tom Newmark decided to take on a bigger challenge: climate change, which is the biggest threat facing the world today. Newmark co-founded The Carbon Underground to help educate the world about the ability of healthy soils to reverse climate change and to encourage the adoption of regenerative organic agriculture on farms and grasslands to restore a healthy climate.
Research conducted by the Rodale Institute (USA), the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (Switzerland), and the Louis Bolk Institute (Netherlands) has found that organic farming methods are effective at removing carbon dioxide (CO2)—the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change—from the atmosphere.
The Carbon Underground is coordinating global research to demonstrate the potential of sustainable agriculture and land management to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change.
I recently interviewed Tom Newmark, who is also the founder of Sacred Seeds and co-owner of Finca Luna Nueva, a Demeter certified biodynamic farm in Costa Rica that is conducting research on carbon sequestration research.
Tell me more about The Carbon Underground.
Tom Newmark: Larry Kopald and I co-founded The Carbon Underground in 2013. We have a history of involvement in environmental organizations, and we’re inspired by the heroic work many NGOs are doing to mitigate our climate crisis. But we were frustrated that most environmentalists don’t discuss a very inconvenient truth: merely reducing the rate of CO2 emissions won’t reverse climate change. The global concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has already reached 400 parts per million (ppm), and it’s climbing rapidly. Scientists believe that 350 ppm is the “safe” upper limit of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere.
For the survival of humanity, we’ve got to do more than just slow down the rate of the disaster—we’ve got to reverse it.
What are the sources of CO2?
Newmark: It’s coming from a variety of sources including burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and from agriculture. But people don’t focus on agriculture. They say that we need to switch to wind and solar energy. And, of course, we should transition from a fossil fuel-based energy system to clean energy. But we fail to confront the reality that it is the agricultural malpractice of current farming and ranching systems that contribute to more than half of human-caused CO2 emissions. Food and textile production are contributing billions of tons of CO2 each year.
The worst part of the challenge is that if we were to stop all CO2 emissions into the atmosphere—not one new molecule—that won’t do anything to abate the climate crisis. We are already over 400 ppm and we need to get back to 350 ppm. Ideally we would like to get back to the pre-industrial era levels of 275 ppm.