What if there was a way Florida homeowners, businesses, drivers and grocery shoppers could help pay for a strategy to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and keep a significant percentage of it in our soil?
Imagine if we have the means, today, to work across political divisions in a true battle against the destructive effects of emissions that are heating our atmosphere and contributing to rising sea levels.
Supporting carbon capture and sequestration management through smart green agricultural practices can provide the mechanism for Florida to do its part in the fight against global heating, with the goal of helping to partly mitigate the heat-trapping byproduct of economic development.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) in its Aug. 7 report, “Climate Change and Land,” “an estimated 23% of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (2007-2016) derive from Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use.”
The IPCC said soil is “both a source and a sink of greenhouse gases (GHG’s) and plays a key role in the exchange of energy, water and aerosols between the land surface and the atmosphere.”
The international group of scientists and experts said, “Land and biodiversity are vulnerable to ongoing climate change and weather and climate extremes, to different extents. Sustainable land management can contribute to reducing the negative impacts of multiple stressors, including climate change, on ecosystems and societies.”
The IPCC makes it clear: Carbon can be captured with an increased emphasis on cover crops and improved land management practices. CNN, on Aug, 8, reported increasing temperatures, vegetation loss, fire damage, coastal degradation, soil erosion, water instability and lower crop yields are climate change side effects which must be addressed.
Despite these threats and opportunities, there is no comprehensive plan for Florida consumers and farmers to work together on carbon capture and containment.
Now is our chance to start.
Let’s refer to the idea as the Florida Carbon Sequestration Bank. Under this plan, consumers and business interests can contribute to a non-profit public-private partnership that encourages agricultural interests to commit to employment of GHG capture and containment strategies, including reforestation and cover crop planting. The money raised would support an annual dividend to farmers for their participation.
Revenues would come from voluntary contributions at your grocery store checkout stations, optional climate donations when renewing vehicle registrations, purchasing a “Fight Climate Change” license plate, Florida business tax credits, a carbon capture lottery game, a discretional contribution by property taxpayers and tax-deductible payments. These funds would encourage the adoption of carbon farming practices.
Agriculture is Florida’s second largest industry. Citrus, sugarcane, livestock, wood, and tung oil are crucial to the state’s economic development. Miami Herald recently published an article entitled, “As climate change hits Florida agriculture, could the future be ‘carbon farming’?
Absolutely. But the article noted, “the agriculture industry, one of the state’s most politically and economically important forces, has largely stayed quiet in the climate change conversation even as impacts have begun to take a toll on the bottom line.” The article highlights the silence is “changing fast,” as agricultural leaders are searching for solutions.
One way is for the public and private sectors to get involved in an innovative and symbiotic GHG mitigation relationship. According to the Herald, Florida has 26 million acres of agricultural land that can absorb a lot of carbon if treated properly. “Paying private landowners for environmental services that can benefit the whole community isn’t a new idea.”
All 21.3 million Floridians can get involved in supporting climate friendly agriculture for the remainder of this century. We can fight back intelligently against the physics of carbon dioxide emissions.
Too often ordinary people recognize the threat of our morphing climate but cannot overcome the perception that they are powerless to do anything about the world’s most daunting challenge.
With the sequestration bank, every Floridian can do something for mere pennies about global warming mitigation instead of waiting for some magical carbon-sucking invention from a garage inventor.
Mitchell Chester, Esq., is a climate activist.
“The Invading Sea” is part of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.