Panel at CU Boulder’s CWA talks climate change, regenerative agriculture

Despite the damning April 4 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, panelists in a Thursday afternoon discussion at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Conference on World Affairs came with hope to spare.

Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is beyond reach, the report states. But perspective is important.

“There is a lot of fear in this country,” panelist Nicole Masters said, referencing cultural differences between the United States and her home of New Zealand.

“What it does is it drives people to be reactionary,” she added. “It stops us (from) taking creative actions. It leaves us in a space of reaction.”

Masters is the director of Integrity Soils, a New Zealand-based organization that is committed to transforming all agriculture systems to regenerative ones.

The Thursday afternoon panel, called “Climate Change: Is an Answer in the Soil Beneath Our Feet?” met in the Glenn Miller Ballroom at CU Boulder and featured speakers from across the globe with experience in regenerative agriculture.

While agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change, regenerative agriculture can be a solution. It describes farming and grazing practices that can reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restore degraded soil biodiversity, resulting in carbon drawdown and improvements to the water cycle.

“There’s only one way that we will feed the world and that’s with regenerative agriculture,” said Jon Lundgren, director of South Dakota-based educational research center the Ecdysis Foundation.

“Our only real chance here is for change,” he added. “Can we feed the world with this? Of course.”

Locally, Boulder began the Cool Boulder campaign to empower community-led, nature-based climate action through pollinator pathways, connected canopies and absorbent landscapes.

As the event concluded, the panelists also talked about the importance of giving land back to Indigenous people and the role that could play in fighting climate change and transforming to regenerative agriculture.

“That journey has to start with a whole lot of humility from those of us who are not used to being humbled and who are used to holding power and privilege,” panelist Bek Christensen said. “It has to start with us honestly, honestly giving up that power and being willing to be an equal and to work in partnership.”

Christensen is the programs director for the Peter Cullen Water and Environment Trust and the president of the Ecological Society of Australia.

“We might say we want reconciliation. We might say we want traditional land management. But we still want to have veto rights on all of that. That’s not OK. That’s not equality. It’s not equity. It’s not justice,” she added.

The 74th annual Conference on World Affairs runs through Saturday and is free and open to the public. Topics discussed this year include art as activism, regenerative agriculture, racism in the US, media, music, health and film.


Know before you go:

The Conference on World Affairs is free and open to the public. To check out a schedule of this week’s talks, visit: bit.ly/3Jesb7R.

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