Farming to the Rescue

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I'm on record as saying that I don't think that technological fixes are the answer to the threat of global climate change. However, I must admit to feeling quite optimistic about a new strategy for reducing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide known as carbon farming.

The current poster child for carbon sequestration is tree planting. The carbon offsetting marketplace is crowded with companies offering to plant a forest in your name in order to soak up the C[O.sub.2] you've produced during your latest overseas jaunt. And there's a definite feel-good factor to this strategy: not only do you get to assuage your carbon conscience, but you're also helping to bring back forest to previously cleared land. But questions have been raised over several aspects of this strategy, with some experts even going so far as to suggest that under certain circumstances, it could actually be doing more harm than good.

Farming, on the other hand, has traditionally been viewed as a pretty much wholly negative activity when it comes to the environment, whether its due to land clearing, methane production by livestock, soil degradation, persticide use or water consumption. …