How can these problems best be addressed? For more than two decades, two sets of feebates have been recommended to help achieve agriculture reform and a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy, as depicted in the images in this post and as discussed in many earlier posts and the text below.
Changing from food that is rich in meat and dairy to vegan-organic food can free up large areas of land that can instead be used for other purposes such as community gardens and food forests. It can bring down the cost of food and it can, in combination with biochar, restore the soil's carbon, moisture and nutrients content.
Instead of adding chemical nitrogen fertilizers - typically produced with natural gas - in annually-planted monocultures, it's better to have a diversity of vegetation including a variety of perennial plants such as legumes and trees. Furthermore, pyrolyzing biowaste should be encouraged, as this reduces fire hazards and produces biochar that can be added to soil to sequester carbon and to increase nutrients and moisture in the soil. According to Schmidt et al., 400,000 pyrolysis plants need to be built to process 3.8 billion tons of biowaste annually.
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Nitrous oxide is also important, as a potent greenhouse gas and also as an ozone depleting substance (ODS). The impact of nitrous oxide as an ODS has grown relative to the impact of CFCs, as the abundance of nitrous oxide has kept rising in the atmosphere.
The IPCC in AR6 gives nitrous oxide a lifetime of 109 years and a GWP of 273. A 2017 study warns about increased nitrous oxide emissions from Arctic peatlands after permafrost thaw.
Furthermore, a recent study finds that nitrous oxide emissions contribute strongly to cirrus clouds, especially when ammonia, nitric acid and sulfuric acid are present together. Cirrus clouds exerts a net positive radiative forcing of about 5 W m⁻², according to IPCC AR6.
Adding nitrogen fertilizer can also cause the formation of dead zones in lakes and oceans. Dead zones occur when the water gets too many nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizers, resulting in oxygen depletion at the top layer of oceans, which can also increase nitrous oxide releases.
In the video on the right, Jim McHenry discusses ways to improve the situation.
All too often, chemical nitrogen fertilizers are added unnecessarily. The intent may be to help the plants grow, e.g. when leaves of plants turn yellow or when there is little growth. But it may actually be that the plants get too little water because the roots of the plants were damaged or too short, or that there was too little shade and too much sun. Excessive nitrogen fertilization and irrigation can then result in a lot of green leaves, but this growth can come at the expense of good food.
Instead, with a good mix of vegetation, there's little or no need to add chemical nitrogen fertilizer, since nitrogen-fixing plants such as legumes can help fast-growing plants get the necessary nitrogen, while the fast-growing plants provide shade for the legumes and the soil. Next to providing shade, the tall, sturdy stalks of plants such as corn can give the vines of beans something to attach themselves to. Fast-growing pants can provide a lot of shade to other plants and to the soil, thus keeping the soil moist, while also preventing the infiltration and growth of weeds and while also deterring pests with their spiny leaves.
Trees can lower surface temperatures by providing shade and by holding colder air under their canopy, thus avoiding extreme temperatures that could also cause the soil to get too dry. The roots of trees prevent erosion and guide rainwater to reach greater depth, thus avoiding that the soil gets too wet in case of heavy rain. Trees then pump water up from deep in the ground with their roots and much of the water comes out again through leaves (evapotranspiration), which stimulates rainfall. Furthermore, trees release pheromones (that attract pollinators) and other aerosols such as terpenes. Trees are typically narrower at the top and wider below, and through their shape and by standing up high they can guide the wind upward, while water vapor released from leaves also helps lift these aerosols into the air. Raindrops forming around these aerosols will further stimulate the formation of lower cloud decks that provide shade, that reflect sunlight back into space and that produce more rainfall locally.
Furthermore, olivine sand can be used to create borders for gardens, footpaths and bicycle paths. Where needed, olivine sand could also be added on top of biochar, as the light color of olivine sand reflects more sunlight, while olivine can also soak up excess water and sequester carbon, while adding nutrients to the soil. By redesigning urban areas, more space can be used for trees, which also reduces the urban heat island effect and thus lowers temperatures.
In the video below, Paul Beckwith discusses global food shortages.
Pyrolysis of biowaste is recommended as this can turn most carbon into biochar, resulting in high carbon sequestration rates, and increased capacity of the soil to retain carbon, nutrients and moisture, thus reducing erosion, fire hazards and greenhouse gas emissions, while increasing vegetation growth resulting in additional drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere.
"The carbon content of biochar varies with feedstock and production conditions from as low as 7% (gasification of biosolids) to 79% (pyrolysis of wood at above 600 °C). Of this initial carbon, 63-82% will remain unmineralized in soil after 100 years at the global mean annual cropland-temperature of 14.9 °C", a 2021 study concludes.
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Furthermore, part of the wood from forests and crops from farmland is used to supply biofuel, for use either to power vehicles, for heating or as fuel for power plants. Reducing the use of fuel will therefore also reduce nations getting into conflict with other nations, not only conflict over the possession of fossil fuel and over water to cool power plants, but also conflict over land and water that is used for agriculture and forestry to grow biofuel.
Air Taxis and Urban Redesign can further facilitate the necessary transformation
Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxis can be an important component of the transformation of the way we travel, live, work and eat.
Using eVTOL air taxis can reduce the need for roads and associated infrastructure, further freeing up land, while the transition to electricity generated with solar panels and wind turbines can additionally free up land that is now used by utilities and their associated infrastructure such as power plants, power poles and towers, communication poles, etc. This land can instead be used for community gardens, (food) forests, parks, etc.
This doesn't have to be an instant shift. In existing cities, there already is a strong and growing movement to restrict the use of cars in city centers, and to instead add more walkways and bikeways. In this case, the roads will still be there, it's just their usage that changes. Another example is pipes. Many cities want to disconnect pipes that now supply natural gas to buildings, as it makes more sense to use electricity instead. The pipes will still be there, they just won't be used anymore, if at all. Digging up the pipes may make sense, but this may take some effort and time and it's therefore important that this issue is not used as an excuse to delay the rapid transition to the use of clean energy that is so urgently needed.
It's important to look at longer-term and more radical redesign. The transition toward greater use of air taxis enables space previously used for roads to instead be used for more walkways and bikeways, as well as for trees, community gardens, etc. This should be incorporated as part of wider and longer-term planning and redesign of urban areas.
In some places, this can lead to a more compact urban design, especially in city centers. After all, a lot of space becomes available as the use of roads for vehicle movements and for parking is reduced in an urban area, and this allows for more compact construction of new buildings and renovation of existing buildings that also reduces the distance between buildings, thus shortening the time it takes for trips by foot or bike in the city center, while there also will be plenty of opportunities for spaces to be created for air taxis to land and take off, e.g. in parks and on top of buildings.
At the same time, air taxis enable trips of up to a few hundred miles to be completed fast, while using little energy and causing little emissions. Furthermore, more remote places can be economically reached by air taxis without a need for roads to lead them to these places or for railway stations to be located nearby. Drone delivery of goods and air taxis can enable more people to live outside urban areas. More people will be able to have goods delivered to their home and to reach urban amenities if and when they want to, and more economically compared to using cars and roads.
The need for land and water to produce food and energy, and the need for land to transport goods and food can be reduced with the transitions to clean energy and to vegan-organic food. These transitions can also reduce the need for infrastructure such as pipes and poles for water supply, sewage, communications and power. Instead, we can have solar panels, microgrids, WiFi, rainwater tanks, biochar units, food forests and community gardens.
The image below illustrates how policies recommended in the Climate Plan can further reduce the need for infrastructure by supporting eVTOL air taxis, while transforming the space thus gained into community gardens, walkways, bikeways, etc.
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• Climate Plan (page)
• Climate Plan (post)
• Climate Plan (group)
• Air Taxis (group)
• Biochar (group)
• Vegan Organic Food (group)
• Secretary-General Warns of Unprecedented Global Hunger Crisis, with 276 Million Facing Food Insecurity, Calling for Export Recovery, Debt Relief (June 24, 2022)
• Confirm Methane's Importance
• Land Use - by Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser
• FAO - Water for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
• 400,000 Pyrolysis Plants to Save the Climate - by Hans-Peter Schmidt and Nikolas Hagemann (2021)
• Greenhouse Gas Inventory Model for Biochar Additions to Soil - by Dominic Woolf et al.
• Nitrogen fertiliser use could ‘threaten global climate goals’
• IPCC AR6 WG1 Chapter 7
• Synergistic HNO3 H2SO4 NH3 upper tropospheric particle formation - by Mingyi Wang et al. (2022)
• IPCC AR6 WG1 Chapter 4
• Low oxygen eddies in the eastern tropical North Atlantic: Implications for N2O cycling - by D. Grundle et al. (2017)
• Low-cost solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity for 145 countries - by Mark Jacobson et al.
• Numerous Benefits of 100% Clean, Renewable Energy
• Military emissions
• News release: No environmental justice, no positive peace — and vice versa
• Study: A global analysis of interactions between peace and environmental sustainability - by Dahylia Simangan et al.