You can't solve a trillion tree planting


The same thing happens with the Teraton Initiative. The company whose indigo, Indigo, is a startup trying to outsource regenerative agriculture. Provides methods that rely on perennial plants instead of the yearly processed species, or cover crops to reduce the need. "We encourage farmers to use less fertilizer, fewer chemicals and data science and microbiology to improve productivity and get a premium for growing more sustainable items," says David Perry, Indigo CEO. Teraton launched last June; Sign up and receive US $ 15 for every ton of carbon dioxide measured by regular soil health tests. (Hey, wait, doesn't that mean it needs $ 15 trillion to start up?), The company says the money will come from Indigo's enterprise money and eventually from the carbon market that will sell offsets or use government subsidies. Perry says they need to sign 3 million acres in their first year, and instead they have to sign a contract They have 10 million hectares in the first 100 days. Universe: Saved!

Except, well, math. One study of 150,000 sample points across the earth said that as we came to agriculture, we lost about 133 billion tonnes of carbon from the earth. Several analyzes of carbon sequestration efforts suggest that under current restrictions and at best, we will only miss 50% or 60% of this carbon. "There is a community of scientists who have been working on these issues for the better part of 20 years and have published many papers that show what the potential of planet earth is and Indigo chose to ignore it," says Jonathan Foley. , Environmental Scientist and Project Director of the Climate Change Action Group. "I just have to ask myself why they're doing it."

Indigo disagrees, of course. "His argument is based on two places, neither of which we know is true. The first is that you can accurately estimate how much carbon was lost from the soil, and that's really hard, "Perry says. "The second condition is its prerequisite that you can't put more carbon into the soil than you have to start here, and I think we can say with certainty that this is not the case. There is no reason to think that nature was trying to make the most of carbon in the soil. ”

It is possible to imagine agriculture as geoengineering, improving the productivity and productivity of nature. If it can also improve our ability to install carbon in nature, it will be transformative. But so far there is no evidence that people can make it to the scale that can save the planet. Using it differently can be a moral hazard, encouraging people to continue their carbon footprint in the atmosphere if they cover the trees and save the crop. Climate change monitoring is going to do systematic, large-scale work; Such decisions will allow countries and transnational corporations to deal with the ordinary.

“If one company could compensate for a billion tonnes of CO2They need to get a Nobel Prize. But Teraton? You need four planet Earths, "Foley says. "It looks like a hippie cycle in Silicon Valley. So let's rewrite the numbers, the extra proportions, and then the five years. That could collapse confidence in the idea of ​​combating climate change, he says.

Using land as a carbon sink is a great idea. Even the land knows this; It already absorbs 30 percent of the carbon. A recent UN report says that for just $ 300 billion, the Earth could leave forest and abandoned land to pasture and have enough carbon to reverse the worst effects of climate change in 20 years. That's less than half the cost of firing 300 WeWork 300 CEOs from the US defense budget. And reforestation and regenerative agriculture are great climate-control measures that can be of use to the developing world as they actually contribute to other problems than hinder industrialization.

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