An impassioned group of people in Hay River are sending their signatures to world leaders meeting in Paris at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
They gathered on the evening of Dec. 4 to sign the so-called Soil Manifesto and watch the film Earth: A New Wild, which discusses some of the ways healthy soil can be a solution to climate change.
The goal of the current conference in Paris is to achieve a global agreement on climate, and find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Concerned about the effects of climate change, Jackie Milne, the president of the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI), is convinced that by taking care of the soil, the carbon levels on the planet could be restored to a harmonious balance.
Now an accredited hub with the Savory Institute, which promotes holistic management, NFTI believes that by using animals in their natural patterns, the soil can be restored to its natural state. By herding around masses of animals, the earth is plowed and the soil is fertilized but not overgrazed. The belief is also that the natural way animals move when there are predators – swiftly and in tight packs – is the way they best interact with the soil and plant life.
According to Milne, the soil holds the key for the planet’s recovery.
“The soil has the greatest capacity to hold carbon,” she explained to the group on Friday night. “And it actually thrives when it’s there. At previous climate talks, they have focused on emissions and how to bring emissions down. That’s part of it, but they still have yet to touch on how to sequester that carbon that’s already out there. That’s where the soil comes in.”
“And we don’t have to invent a tool to sequester the carbon – it’s already been invented,” added Kim Rapati, co-ordinator at NFTI, referring to the soil.
Milne said she hopes to see a shift in thinking around restoring the earth.
She said even if the world completely halted all emissions, it would still take more than 1,000 years for the excess to balance out.
She said soil is the only way to correct the problem.
Rapati said, if some of the grasslands in the world were regenerated, within five years the Earth would see pre-industrial levels of carbon.
Milne added that it is not just grasslands that can make a difference.
“This is a methodology that anyone in any place can utilize,” she said. “It’s all about how we interact with our environment. It’s used in the grasslands a lot, because that has been highly abused land. But it’s a system that can be applied to any ecosystem.”
Milne also expressed her concern for the industrialized farming and livestock industry.
“People say we should stop eating beef because of all the methane produced by cows,” she said. “The problem is not the cows, it’s the way we factory farm our animals and then next to that we grow huge crops with chemical fertilizers. We’re totally missing the point.”
Milne said the best thing people can do is to educate themselves on how to properly interact with the environment.
“I’m just so excited. It’s hard to believe it’s true,” said Milne of restoring the soil to fight climate change. “There’s been this dark cloud over our heads for decades. But it truly is a balance between advanced civilization and ecology.”