When I think about fighting global climate destabilization, I immediately focus on carbon. Carbon footprint, carbon reduction, carbon credits, carbon sinks.
But according to today's guest, Marco Vangelisti, a mathematician and finance guy who's been studying climate science according to principles of accounting – balance sheets, reserves and access, profit and loss – carbon isn't close to our most effective lever.
Which is a good thing, because if all we had to manipulate was carbon, we'd be – in Marco's words – “toast.”
There's too much carbon in the atmosphere, and we're pumping too much in every year. There's no way that we won't hit the carbon ceiling leading to a 2 degree C rise in global average temperature within the next few years.
And even if we could suddenly stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, it wouldn't make a dent in the carbon problem. It turns out that most of the carbon released into the air ends up acidifying our oceans. Once we stop adding carbon to the atmosphere, the oceans will release it for hundreds of years to come.
So if not carbon, then what?
Drawing on the work of Walter Jehne, a retired soil microbiologist and plant ecologist, Marco points out that carbon comprises about 11% of greenhouse gases. Methane, another 8%.
Over 80% of greenhouse gases, therefore, are comprised of something else. And that something else is where our salvation may lay.
It's… water vapor.
For a bunch of reasons mostly tied to industrial agriculture, the planet is storing much less water in plants and soil, and much more in suspended liquid particles in the air. They aren't clouds, but a kind of watery haze.
This water vapor traps the sun's heat, which leads to warming.
And as naked soil, stripped of forests or any kind of vegetative growth, heats up, its microbes die, leading to desertification.
So the single most important things humanity can do to halt and reverse global warming are to stop deforestation and end heavy-till industrial agriculture. Essentially, by greening the earth's surface, we can close the energy gap.
How can we do this? According to Marco, our most powerful leverage is to stop investing our savings in enterprises that are destroying forests and funding land-destroying agriculture.
In today's conversation, he shares tools for discovering if your investments are funding deforestation and harmful agricultural practices.
Oh, and if you're looking for a political cause, get involved in repealing or reforming the Farm Bill that subsidizes giant agricultural monocrops and factory farms so that environmentally responsible models can't compete.
EK4T.com (Essential Knowledge For Transition – Marco Vangelisti's website)
Marco's next investing course: Towards Aware and No-Harm Investing – save 20% by entering coupon code PLANT at checkout (not an affiliate link)
Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, by David Montgomery
Growing a Revolution, by David Montgomery
The Hidden Half of Nature, by David Montgomery
AsYouSow.org – how to assess your investments on a “do no harm” basis
Walter Jehne's talk on hydrology and climate change – he's got a wonderful Aussie accent 🙂
Wikipedia entry on Charles David Keeling (for your next cocktail party or Jeopardy! appearance)
Become a Health Coach
New cohort beginning Fall 2021. Live classes will be 10-11:30am US Eastern Time on Wednesday, so this is a Europe- and Africa-friendly class. Also for folks in the US, Canada, and Central/South America who have flexible mornings.
Find out more and apply here: WellStartCoach.com.
New Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.
The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.
This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.