From the Concert for Bangladesh to COP27: the challenge of limiting global warming

Soil can become a sink for atmospheric carbon with that global goal.

Last year they fulfilled 50 years of the Concert for Bangladesh. A recital organized by former Beatle George Harrison and his partner Ringo Starr along with a notable group of rock stars like Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan that went down in history for being the first benefit concert in the history of modern music. The reason was to raise funds to alleviate a fierce famine that killed more than 500,000 people., a terrible consequence of the war that devastated that distant country, Muslim Pakistan. That concert served to open the eyes of millions of young people around the world about the pressing problem of hunger, among them, to whom he writes.

That same year, an agronomist named Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the transformation of agriculture. A transformation so profound that history recognized it as green revolution. Norman, a tireless traveler who had the opportunity to spend many years in our country cooperating with INTA, was able to respond to a challenge that seemed unattainable 50 years ago: will we be able to feed a population that was growing exponentially? Until that moment, humanity was affected by recurring famines such as the one that motivated that well-remembered Concert in Bangladesh. The success of the Green Revolution was so overwhelming that the number of people dying from famines fell from 17 million people in the 1960s to less than 500,000 in the past decade.

50 years have passed and that goal that seemed unattainable is just a milestone in history. An epic where Argentine producers were outstanding protagonists multiplying their grain production five times in this period.

50 years later, humanity faces a challenge as or more challenging than that: climate change. Never before has humanity faced the concrete possibility of such a profound change in our living conditions. And while the much feared nuclear Armageddon was always a threat, in the case of climate change we are talking about an inexorable certainty that we can only avoid if we profoundly change the way we have lived until today.

Throughout all of history, but mainly in the last 50 years, humans have released into the atmosphere a colossal amount of greenhouse gases. And its accumulation is producing effects that will inexorably affect our existence as we have known it until today. After long debates, it seems that humanity has become aware that we cannot continue treating the planet as we have been doing until today and that a change is essential.

We know that the first part of the solution is to reduce our emissions and humanity (that is, all of us) little by little is committing to it. Recycle, reuse and recover They begin to take flesh little by little in all of us, most of the time thanks to the preaching and example of our children. However, when we are walking towards the precipice, walking slower is not a solution. We have to change direction.

These days it is taking place in Egypt lto 27th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (known as COP27). Among so many voices I want to highlight Rattan Lal, 2020 World Food Prize winner, who maintains that the soil can become a sink for atmospheric carbon and limit global warming.

Agriculture is the science that uses the energy of the sun and photosynthesis to produce food, clothing and, ultimately, biofuels. Farmers are -ultimately- managers of photosynthesis, well, lThe time has come to use photosynthesis to recapture all the carbon dioxide that we have emitted throughout humanity and return it to the soil as biomass and organic matter.

Rattan Lal proposes “cultivate” carbon. It argues that farmers around the world can grow carbon in the soil, in the trees and in the soil and be rewarded for doing so. “In the same way that they can sell milk, poultry, beef, corn and soybeans, they should also be able to sell carbon, so it becomes a commodity.”

proposes that the basic carbon product is priced fairly, transparently and directed to the farmer. Furthermore, he argues that most of the money allocated should actually go to farmers “because that would not help turn science into action and make agriculture the solution to climate change.”

Is this really possible? whatIs regenerative agriculture possible? Thousands of examples from producers around the world (among them many Argentines) begin to demonstrate that this utopia is possible. It is here when the debate begins and lThe question is no longer if it is possible but if we can do it on a scale and -even more difficult- if it will be economically possible.

It is not my intention to try to resolve this debate in this note. For now, I think it’s enough to remember that barely 50 years ago we didn’t know if we were going to be able to feed humanity until a visionary taught us that it was possible. Today, 50 years later, agriculture -and agricultural producers- have the opportunity -and the challenge- to make agriculture the solution to climate change.

We want to say thanks to the writer of this short article for this remarkable material

From the Concert for Bangladesh to COP27: the challenge of limiting global warming