Well, the inevitable has happened. We reached 400 ppm. atmospheric CO2 concentration today, a level not seen in millions of years. As a marker of the helplessness of humans against the massed forces of… er… humans, this graph is sad. Not even a hint of slowing its rate to reflect increasing consciousness of what we’re doing to ourselves. Actually, it looks like it’s accelerating.
This somber day was not a surprise. But I would like you to blend, if you would, this somber non-surprise with three surprises I’ve encountered along the way. It won’t take long, a couple of paragraphs and a 22-minute video but YOU may be surprised at how you feel when done.
My first surprise happened watching Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” way back in 2007 when he showed the graph above. In the whole movie this was what startled me most and has stayed with me since: that regular, predictable wave in the graph. This annual undulation of CO2 is actually the beautiful respiration signal of the forests of the world. There’s more vegetation in the northern hemisphere, so the CO2 peaks each April when the trees start using it up and the level really falls quite dramatically by October. What startled me was how dynamic the Earth’s atmosphere-vegetation system was. This seemed very significant and hopeful in some way.
The second surprise was reading about how the grasslands of North America had lost more of its wildlife by far than any other biome. The source of this was a World Wildlife Fund annual report. It shouldn’t have been surprising I suppose, but I hadn’t yet flown over the middle of the continent and seen it chopped up into all those little squares. Yes, I guess you can’t have a breadbasket and teeming wildlife in the same place. And it’s all breadbasket now.
The third and biggest surprise was this video. Here’s where you’ll see where the 40,000 elephants come in:
So it appears that humanity, still in its adolescence (this is how we overwhelmingly view ourselves… it’s been polled!) just can’t find the will to cut down on fossil fuel use. Well what if we can turn lots of brown land green using Allan Savory’s managed biomimicry? That annual cycle of CO2 would begin to take larger and larger gulps and wouldn’t it be fun to watch that stubborn curve moderate its climb, then begin to come back down toward 350 even while we’re taking our sweet time to evolve past our fossil fix. And, think of all the people those animals could feed. A greening, cooling Earth producing more food? Wow. LET’S DO THIS!