A frank discussion with Regenerate Costa Rica’s Eduard Müller about what humanity needs to do, and why we have thus far failed to do it, as we head into the Sixth Planetary Extinction….
“Our planet is collapsing first due to a loss of biodiversity and second due to fertilizer use. Biological diversity was very important in the ‘90s, and then it just faded away, and climate change is now what everyone is focused on. The Paris Agreement is at the forefront of that. Meanwhile fertilizer use is not even on the radar in all of these pronouncements we see coming out of the United Nations. The third planetary boundary that we have exceeded is land use, which is inextricably related to agriculture. So climate change as a critical issue is really just in fourth place. That’s why I’ve always preferred to talk about global change, and not only climate change.
“We are experiencing the Sixth Planetary Extinction, and the difference from the others is it’s the first time we have so much science to back it up. We know exactly how we are going to disappear but we’re not using that information. There’s so much data, so much information. What we have lost is the ability to transform that data, information, and knowledge into wisdom.
“So we know we need to bring atmospheric CO2 down to below 350 parts per million. If we don’t do it, we won’t make it. I know people in the northern hemisphere have the expectation that they’ll invent a machine that pulls CO2 out of the atmosphere. But we can’t wait. We already have the best machines to do it, which are plants. These machines actually made our planet habitable millions of years ago. Plants pulled CO2 out of the atmosphere, and created conditions for other life. So why not go back to them, instead of continuing to destroy them with traditional agriculture?
“We have two billion severely degraded hectares of land around the planet. We have the resources and money is available to increase the soil carbon sequestration capacities of those hectares by 2 or 3 percent within the next five years. Those resources and money are just not being channeled into the right direction. We don’t need 50 years to do it. If we had 10 percent of what the US spends on military every year we could bring the planet back to 350 or even 300 parts per million. It’s something that is doable, and it’s doable very quickly because we have the people on the ground. We don’t have to bring experts from around the world.”
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Photo: The Agua y Paz (Water and Peace) Biosphere Reserve, a region characterized by both mountainous areas and areas of lakes, flooded forests and swamps, is among the areas that the Costa Rica Hub is working to regenerate. Credit: Eduard Müller