Institute for Sustainable Development



Our Sustainable Future - CSU, Chico

Why is this work important?

The two biggest threats to civilization are soil loss or degradation and climate change.  The UN (FAO) has recently stated due to erosion and soil degradation we have 60 years of topsoil left.  Additionally, we have already passed the greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the atmosphere that could have sustained life for many generations forward. Even with a complete cessation of GHG emissions today, the planet will continue to heat up.  Therefore, we must stop these emissions today.  But to reduce our legacy levels of GHGs there is only one mechanism available, affordable, and that holds multiple additional ecosystem services as well, and that is soil carbon sequestration. 

Investing in research, practices, food choices, and policy to appropriately reimburse farmers and ranchers to begin to build or even to rebuild soil’s carbon levels remains the most urgent and critical work for humanity.  Creating the Initiative for Regenerative Agriculture as a global research center, demonstration site, and policy think tank to usher in a real potential future for this planet’s capacity to robustly sustain Earth’s complex system of diversity.

Too much carbon in the atmosphere heats our planet beyond the capacity for it to sustain life as we know it.  Too much carbon in the oceans acidifies them making them unfit for the life balances that have evolved through the millennia.  But returning so much of this lost carbon to the soil will not only mitigate the destructive aspects it causes in the atmosphere and the ocean, it will improve and cleanse our water cycles, add fertility and life to the soils, build climate resilience into farmed and grazed lands, and will reduce and eliminate the need to cut forests globally. We have overshot our planet’s capacity for sustainability, we have only one option which is to rapidly regenerate that which underlies our life here on planet Earth, our soils.

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