Monday, June 21, 2010

Farming our way out of trouble

Discovery news reports that one thing we're doing is indeed slowing global warming, and saving the economy, at the same time? What? Farming.
Apparently the gains in modern agriculture have been sucking tons and tons of carbon into the form of food, human beings, and animals. Still more farm produce becomes clothing, manufacturing materials, carpets, and other goods. All of which are voraciously consumed by people and industry, and the carbon that went into them stays out of the air for a very long time. (Well, for clothing and carpets, anyway. Food gets eaten and metabolized on a pretty short order.)
Another reason for the gains is that in the old days, farmers would produce more crops by acquiring more land. And if that land were a forest, it would be burned down. Today, farmers put chemical fertilizers and don't bother with the forest. The unburned forest keeps its carbon as trees. The farmer saves money (fertilizer costs less than forest, and the denser crops means less work and walking on the farmer's part), the forest isn't destroyed, everyone wins.

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