The solution is simple, speakers at Artisans of the Grasslands said today. Pull carbon out of the air using photosynthesis. Admittedly, the climate change conversation I’ve kept at arms length. It is complex, highly debated, seemingly out of my control. But today I changed my mind. An organic farmer from Costa Rica, presenting today in a beautiful white linen shirt, that along with his salt and pepper beard made him appear clean, pure and just ever so slightly holy, explained that we need to not focus on the supply side of carbon getting into the atmosphere, but rather on pulling it out of the atmosphere.

Climate change solution: put carbon in the soil

For the climate change conversation rookies like myself, he had a good analogy. He explained that the Earth’s atmosphere is like a man who weighs 400 pounds. He goes to the doctor to get healthy and the doctor says: I have the perfect diet that will allow you to not gain another pound. You will stay right at 400 pounds. That is what our supply side efforts to reverse climate change are doing. They are focused on not letting more carbon into the atmosphere, but what we need to focus on is pulling carbon out of the atmosphere (or to keep with the analogy, helping that 400 pound man lose weight).

Plants pull carbon out of the air and through photosynthesis make sugar that feeds the soil. We all might have learned that in freshman biology, learned the chemical process for a test and then promptly forgot it. I spent today with people who believe this process will save the Earth. Humble plants and soil. Not technology. Not anything we can invent, but rather Nature operating without our manipulation or interference.  It was described as awesome, magical, the answer. Some even had the chemical process tattooed on their arms. The goal is to get the balance in the carbon cycle back. This was a common theme at this conference. Our world is out of balance. Our bodies are out of balance. Signals are mixed up. Things are haywire. We need to get back to basics. Get grounded. Connect. Eat real food that we were designed to eat.

And the hopeful message is that this is in our reach. We need to take the atmospheric carbon from 400 PPM to 350 PPM. Just adding two percent organic matter (made up mainly of carbon) back into the soil would have amazing effects. Just two percent, author Courtney White told us.

Balancing the carbon cycle is a party with good food

Had I realized reversing climate change and bringing the carbon cycle back into balance could be so much fun, I would have paid attention years ago. We learned that we all have to work together to make this happen. As hub leaders and holistic management practitioners, we must facilitate the important work of coming together to solve problems. Start at the soil surface and the soul surface. Invite people to dinner and conversation. Listen to them. Ask them about their dreams. How would we eat? How would we live? Be Artisans of the Grasslands and dreamlands. This is what holistic management is about. Bringing people together to build a bright future.  The first step is having a party. Talking and connecting with people. Sounds fun. I am in. Sally Fallon from the Weston A. Price Foundation explained to us that the way to build “beautiful and splendid” people is to eat nutrient-dense food. And this means eating lots of fat soluble vitamins like A, D and K. These are found in raw milk, cheese, eggs, meat and fat. So step two: eat good food. Let’s eat delicious food like grassfed steaks while we connect and talk about our dreams. We must support farmers and ranchers working to regenerate soil. Our assignment is to eat nutrient-rich foods, produced by good people, care for ourselves and others, and together we can make the world a better place–where the soil is rich and grasslands are abundant, life everywhere is thriving from the dung beetles to the opera house. Wow. I never knew saving the world could be so fun.

At this conference, we listened to songs, we sat in circles and told stories our feelings and beliefs, our fears and hopes. We drank kombucha (so good), did yoga, ran along the bay, ate Epic bars, talked about impact investment, nutrition, climate change, grassfed production, watersheds, foodsheds and fibersheds. The diversity in topics was matched only by the diversity in people. It was the most flavorful and fulfilling conference I’ve attended. There is, I observed, a freedom and innocent happiness in being allowed to acknowledge our wholeness. To behave as if we are truly equally and simultaneously spiritual, emotional, cognitive and physical beings connected to each other and the Earth.

Steps to saving the planet:

  • Generously connect with other people, listen to their stories, share a meal. Celebrate life.
  • Eat food from regenerating soils. Eat grassfed meats.
  • Buy from local, organic farmers and ranchers.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Repeat.

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