It was assumed that by adding free trade to the global markets hunger and starvation would be greatly alleviated, if not yesterday’s problem. Hindsight has shown otherwise. Free trade simply opened the door for the exploitation of weaker nations by stronger nations, particularly, though not exclusively, in regard to the appropriation of natural resources. In a better world each nation would take care of all of its people first, with any excess of resources applied to the trade balance. Failing that we must rely on emergency relief, which is never adequate and may not even be available in the future. At the present time we are faced with an equally dire situation, if not more so - we are fast running out of non-renewable resources. As a consequence future generations will become ever more dependent on renewable resources.
This brings up the matter of the stewardship of the basic renewable resources – soil, air and water. Although in my articles my focus has been on soils, these three resources cannot be effectively addressed apart from each other. Degraded soils (loss of carbon) result in degraded air (excess carbon) which in turn degrade our oceans – warming and acidifying them, causing climate aberrations worldwide. It is important to notice that the degradation of soils came first, so the secret to restoring balance in the atmosphere and oceans lies not only in reducing fossil fuel emissions but also in sequestering carbon in our agricultural soils where it is critically needed, and not in underground or under water pools where it is concentrated and made highly toxic.
Excess carbon loss from the tilling of soils has contributed as much to the spike in atmospheric CO2 as the burning of fossil fuels. There is a moral obligation involved in initiating a no-till agriculture, but a study of human nature suggests that people are not in general moved by moral pronouncements unless it involves what is perceived to be one’s self-interest. Of course sequestering carbon is obviously in our self-interest but the information about the best way of doing this needs to be disseminated. And we need those gardeners who already have this knowledge to demonstrate it to others. There is a learning curve involved in shifting to no-till gardening which must be acknowledged.
My feeling is we can no longer wait for someone to come up with a way to sequester carbon in humus while at the same time tilling the soil!