We all know climate change is upon us. Our ice caps are melting, weather patterns are changing and the thin skin of soil that we live on is feeling the effects.
A common fear is that there is little individuals can do about climate change. But that is far from the truth. Simply switching to an organic diet can have major effects on reducing climate change.
Here are five ways that going organic can reduce climate change:
- Sequesters carbon
The earth’s atmosphere is laden with carbon emissions, but carbon isn’t the bad guy in this story. In fact, carbon is the building block of all living things on this planet. The problem is that carbon is being taken out of the soil – largely in the form of fossil fuels – where it belongs, and shot up into the atmosphere where it does not.
Organic farming can help by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and putting it back into the soil where it belongs. Studies show that organic farming practices not only promote healthy soils, they sequester significantly more carbon than conventional farming.
- Less polluted water
Clean water is necessary for all life on this planet. Yet, agriculture is the leading polluter of rivers and streams in America – impacting drinking water quality and impairing rivers, streams and watersheds. Meanwhile, agriculture uses 80 percent of America’s freshwater and its overuse threatens the availability of freshwater for the rest of the country.
But GMO and conventional farming processes are notorious for using toxic chemicals in pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These chemicals are devastating the fauna in our soil, significantly reducing their ability to sequester carbon. They are also contaminating our watersheds, destroying ecosystems and reducing our overall fresh water supply.
Organic farmers focus on developing healthy soil, and don’t use synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that pollute the water. Organic farming practices will be needed now more than ever as our water resources become even more precious as a result of drought and other climate change-induced weather events.
- Reduces chemical load
As stated above, GMO and conventional farmers depend on a host of toxic chemicals to produce food. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals remain in our soil and water long after we have eaten the food that required their use. These chemicals are resting in rivers, streams, oceans, our soil and, worst of all, our bodies.
Conventional farming has caused a massive increase in the use of pesticides and herbicides in the U.S. Since 1974 1.8 million tons of glyphosate has been sprayed on GMO crops in the U.S. alone. Glyphosate residue can be traced on food and in the human body. It has also lead to an increase in the use of fossil fuel derived pesticides and fertilizers. Most fertilizers used in conventional farming are derived through fossil fuels, which we know is a leading cause of climate change. Organic farmers are restricted from using any synthetic pesticides, fertilizers of GMOs and opt for other options, such as diversified crop rotation to decrease the use of chemicals.
- Uses less energy
A recent study concluded that organic farming averages 20% higher energy savings than conventional farming by relying on solar energy and natural techniques that reduce the amount of energy needed to produce crops.
According to the Rodale Institute it requires 71% more energy to grow a conventional hectare of corn versus an organic hectare. The difference comes down to the chemicals used in conventional farming. The manufacturing and transporting of the nitrogen based fertilizer used on conventional farms requires much more energy than the composted manure used on organic corn. Farmers are also now spraying crops more than once a season to combat new resistant superweeds. Since these chemicals are derived from fossil fuels and the machines used to apply these chemicals require fuel, more energy is needed.
Eating local, organic foods also helps cut down on energy use by reducing almost all the energy used to make and transport food. Much of the energy used in food production is the transportation used to get food from point A to point B. If you are supporting your local farmer’s markets and CSAs you are also supporting a more energy efficient food system.
- Stops digging the ditch
Follow this old adage: “The moment you realize you are digging your own ditch, stop digging!” When you buy organic, you are increasing demand for organic agriculture. All farmers need to profit off of their crops and will ultimately switch to organic if consumers demand it. Less is more when it comes to GMO and conventional farming – the fewer chemicals used in our food production, the more our environment and bodies benefit
So visit your local farmers market and find organic vendors. Support and applaud their efforts: they will give you a healthier planet in return!