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Bloomberg: How to Halt Global Warming for $300 billion? Tackling Desertification Is the Key

  • Date:2019-10-29

In a Blooomberg article on October 23rd, it has pointed out that $300 billion, that’s the money needed to stop the rise in greenhouse gases and buy up to 20 years of time to fix global warming, according to United Nations climate scientists. It’s the gross domestic product of Chile, or the world’s military spending every 60 days.

The sum is not to fund green technologies or finance a moonshot solution to emissions, but to use simple, age-old practices to lock millions of tons of carbon back into an overlooked and over-exploited resource: the soil.

Rene Castro Salazar, an assistant director general at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, said that of the 2 billion hectares (almost 5 billion acres) of land around the world that has been degraded by misuse, overgrazing, deforestation and other largely human factors, 900 million hectares could be restored.

Returning that land to pasture, food crops or trees would convert enough carbon into biomass to stabilize emissions of CO2, the biggest greenhouse gas, for 15-20 years, giving the world time to adopt carbon-neutral technologies.

The heart of the idea is to tackle the growing problem of desertification -- the degradation of dry land to the point where it can support little life. At least a third of the world’s land has been degraded to some extent, directly affecting the lives of 2 billion people, said Eduardo Mansur, director of the land and water division at the FAO.

Marginal lands are being stressed around the globe by the twin phenomena of accelerated climate change and a rate of population growth that could lift the gbal tally to almost 10 billion people by 2050, he said. Much of that growth is in areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where land is already highly stressed.

“The idea is to put more carbon into the soil,” said Barron J. Orr,  lead scientist for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.“That’s not going to be a simple thing because of the natural conditions. But keeping the carbon in the soil and getting that natural vegetation, grazing land etc. thriving again -- that’s the key.”

Carbon sequestration through desertification control have seen great practices around the world, Kubuqi desert in Inner Mongolia, China is one of the great example to see. Leading Chinese Eco-company Elion, has been reclaiming the desert for 30 years. With innovative desertificaiton control technologies such as tree-planting based on wind data analysis, germplasm banks, drone planting. etc, Elion has successfully greened more than 6000square km of the desert, which fixed 15.4 million tons of carbon during the process. Moreover, Elion has recently developed a biology-based amendment as a viable solution for turning sand into soil. China's technologies and experience in combatting desertification are worth sharing,  and have made great contribution to the global fight against climate change.

“The problem unfortunately is big and it is growing,” said Mansur.The main cause of emissions from agriculture is poor land management. But the solutions are known: Sustainable land management, sustainable water management, sustainable soil management.”




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