by Adam Maxwell and Douglas Ray, PhD
This article appeared in the Seattle Times on Jan. 13, 2020
During a short legislative session, conventional wisdom dictates that only a few small bills will pass into law, most likely on a partisan basis. Our organizations, however, choose not to accept conventional wisdom. As we have in previous legislative sessions, we will continue to work to pass several important climate bills this session while encouraging legislators — both Democrat and Republican — to support policies that protect people and birds from the worst effects of climate change.
Significant progress is possible. We know this because of our state’s tradition of transcending partisanship in the name of conservation. In 2020, elected officials can pass smart policies that reduce emissions in our state, while supporting rural economies.
So, back to that “conventional wisdom.”
Conventional wisdom No. 1: Don’t expect too much in a short legislative session.
While this might make sense in the normal course of things, we aren’t living in “normal times.” The impacts of the climate crisis are clear, here in our backyard and around the world. Audubon’s research shows that if we don’t cut emissions 45% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by midcentury, two-thirds of North American birds will be vulnerable to extinction. It’s not just the birds that are impacted. Drought, sea-level rise and climatic shifts threaten our whole economy and way of life.
Against this backdrop, we expect legislators to advance effective climate policy, every single year. (more…)
Agriculture produces about 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But 80 miles east of Seattle, a small farm along the Yakima River is proving that agriculture can store carbon in the soil, instead — in a big way.
Spoon Full Farm is jointly run by four determined young farmers who are out to grow produce and meat in ways that maximize their taste and nutrition — while strengthening and enriching the soil with large quantities of carbon.
One of those farmers is Mericos Rhodes. He was studying philosophy at Williams College in Massachusetts when he attended a lecture by an innovative cattle rancher. “He was running around on stage yelling about soil microbes,” says Rhodes, “and describing how rotational grazing of bison built soil fertility and massive stores of carbon in the Midwest. This guy really loved his life. I wanted what he was having.”
A few years later, Rhodes’ mom and stepdad bought what is now Spoon Full Farm. “I’d been serving the Kool-Aid of carbon farming to them,” he says. “After they’d owned the land for about a year, a few friends of mine and I moved out there and started farming.” (more…)
Noa Kay is joining CarbonWA as sustainable farms campaign manager.
Noa earned masters degrees in Education and Public Health and has over 16 years of experience working as an educator and public policy researcher. Throughout her career, Noa has worked collaboratively with families, stakeholders, partner organizations, and elected officials. Recently, Noa’s commitment to improving both human and environmental health led her to launch a small no-till vegetable farm. She spends her time outside of work hiking, trail running, and cooking.
“We’re thrilled that Noa is part of our team,” says Kyle Murphy, CarbonWA executive director. “She brings the right mix of background experience in public policy, hands-on farming experience, and strong communication skills to the position.
“Noa will lead our coalition in a broad outreach and education effort to showcase the potential of climate-friendly farming practices. She will also work with our lobbying team to steward SB 5947 to success in 2020.” SB 5947 establishes a sustainable farms and fields grant program.
Other CarbonWA members, including Policy Chair Greg Rock, CarbonWA Vice Chair Peter Kelly, Melinda McBride and the broader advocacy and communication teams will continue to provide support on the sustainable farming campaign.
Adds Murphy: “We are especially grateful to the donors, large and small, who helped to make this hire happen!”
In Washington State, rural communities are often the hardest hit by climate change impacts like wildfire, flooding, drought, pests, and other harms to natural resources. Rural economies can also potentially benefit from climate change solutions that create market-based systems to reward practices that sequester carbon in the soil and reduce carbon pollution. This potential has been neglected by many groups that focus on climate change.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 7% of Washington’s direct greenhouse gas emissions. However, farmers can adopt proven technologies and practices that completely offset those emissions and more, by sequestering carbon in soil and forest while producing valuable economic outputs in food, feed and materials. The 2019 Washington State Legislature explored the creation of a grant program, spearheaded in part by Carbon Washington, to fund agricultural practices that reduce climate pollution and sequester more carbon in trees and soil. That program generated bipartisan sponsorship and broad interest.
The sustainable farms campaign will harness the potential to advance sustainable agriculture practices to increase their usage and create momentum for statewide policy action to encourage sustainable farming while exploring interest in similar policies for forested landscapes.
The sustainable farming campaign manager will oversee and execute a statewide campaign of outreach, education and advocacy on behalf of sustainable farming practices.
Read the job description.