Practical solutions for agricultural management, enabling the restoration of landscape, climate and community.
Reaching zero emissions alone won’t stop the Earth heating up.
There’s another factor at play, even bigger than rising greenhouse gas levels: agricultural land use, and it is turning the world’s bread baskets into deserts.
In south west Western Australia, the ‘Bunny Fence Experiment’, the world’s largest study of two contrasting land uses in the same vast region, showed strong evidence that clearing and cropping was the reason why rainfall over the Wheat Belt has dropped 20 per cent in the lifetime of some of us.
This book tells of how what farmers do exports heat waves, dust and fire, south and south-eastward in Eastern Australia and north and north-westward in Western America.
You’d be forgiven for thinking there ought to be a law against it, but our lawmakers don’t even acknowledge that under the air and the plants, there is anything but bedrock. Soil, the depleted carbon sink that still manages to feed us today, might as well be a vacuum in law, but it could be a saviour for our civilisations.
Ground Breaking has the solutions too: manage land use, sequester carbon in soil, reduce bare ground and increase bush corridors.
Ground Breaking aims to broaden the discussion around what remains the most pressing problem of our time: what is causing climate change?
New planning systems need to be introduced and funded, like town planning, but rural planning instead. It has been done once before when addressing the problem of acid sulfate soil.
Thereby decreasing the impact of climate change both by removing GHGs from the air and by reducing the heat from the land.
The root problem is heat, not greenhouse gases (GHG). In Ground Breaking we explore how heat regulates the Earth’s temperature, of which greenhouse gases are but one, albeit important, component.
It is very apparent when measured by temperature, precipitation, extreme events, major fires and stream flow that anthropogenic climate change is occurring and started to accelerate from about the 1920s, well before world wide average temperature changes were detected.
Anthropogenic climate change is undeniably happening, but are we addressing the wrong problem?
Climate change is a grave issue affecting us all and collectively we can do better – we must break new ground.
We Australians call on you, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, Minister of the Environment Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Climate Change Chris Bowen, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, and all other MPs in our nation’s parliament, to use the Commonwealth’s powers to protect our nation’s soil and land (our landscapes).
We make this urgent demand, knowing that:
Without restoring our land we will continue to experience extreme and increasingly frequent climatic events. The uniformity and simplification of ecosystems in Australian agriculture is destabilising the ‘web of life’.
Dynamic, healthy and resilient ecosystems are complex, supporting biodiversity through interconnected and interdependent environments. Given most biological activity occurs underground, Australia needs to secure and permanently protect our soils and landscapes in Commonwealth law. We must restore the dirt we’ve cultivated to soil.
The lustre of our “sunburnt country” is failing as the terror of “flood and fire and famine” wreak havoc on our nation’s prosperity. Care for country and our obligation to protect Earth’s natural wonders for future generations, compels this urgent call for action. You must act to restore Australia’s soil, rejuvenate our land and secure our future.
We call on you to act. Now.
"While much has been written about the impact of climate change on agriculture, Phil and Freya Mulvey explore a little discussed ‘uncomfortable truth’ in “Ground Breaking: Soil Security and Climate Change”.
They make a compelling argument that the clearing of large areas of woodland to create bare farming fields, directly drives local climate changes, disrupting the “small water cycle”. This lesser known climatic process recirculates and re-uses moisture, driving much of the effective precipitation in inland Australia. Maps of rainfall decline, bisected by the WA “bunny fence” is shown as evidence of this theory. In at least the short term, these impacts are said to be more significant than rises in temperature related to increases in atmospheric carbon.
Phil and Feya are not however arguing for an abandonment of agriculture. They site examples of farmer who have adopted various ‘regenerative farming approaches' to boost soil health and ‘soil security’. Their theory is that greater stored carbon will be the very foundation of a more hydrated landscape that can restore the Small Water Cycles. While there is extensive discussion around the state and federal legislative actions that can support this, including recognising soil in the EPBC act, many suggestions seem doomed to be lost in federal/state arguments, and resistance from farming lobbies sensitive to any impost on private property rights. While the need to clear vast areas of land to feed the worlds (soon to be) 10 billion people is a kind of “uncomfortable truth”, there are now hopes of market solutions.
The Glasgow conference agreed rules to link global carbon markets, and reward environmental co-benefits. Financial drivers, including costing Natural Capital, should greatly incentivise farmers toward regenerative processes. Maybe we will hardly be able to see the WA “bunny fence” by 2050."
"Problem is, this ongoing blindness has ever more frightening implications, because the entire health of our planetary systems are now at risk.
But every now and then a book comes along that is full of basic common sense, but that is supported by solid science and easily understood explanations. This is such a book. Co-authored by father and daughter – the first an agricultural scientist and hydrologist, the second a lawyer and ‘environmental enthusiast’ – the Mulveys shine a fresh light on solutions to our planetary, and particularly climatic, crisis. For they cut through the zillion reams and hours of scientific papers and scientific meetings on global climate change to highlight one simple but largely overlooked fact: that poor land management practices, and particularly the degradation of the hydrological cycle, are at the root of the increased heating of the Earth’s surface and thus anthropogenic climate change.
That is, when it comes to climate change, landscape processes are as important as atmospheric ones concerning the preservation of life on planet earth and of reversing continental climate change. In other words, a key pathway to addressing climate change is to regenerate healthy soils via regenerative agricultural practices. This in turn sustains more humans and biodiversity generally, and positively impacts eight of our Earth’s governing systems – including our ever more vital water cycle.
Whether home gardener, farmer, consumer, scientist or policy decision-maker, this straight-forward book is a must read, for it proves the old adage: that plain common sense is extremely rare."
—Dr. Charles Massy
"Not a difficult message but one that needs persistent reinforcing.
Clearly articulated - soil is the foundation for life... and Anthropogenic climate change is the scourge of our society - the authors present readers with excellent illustrations together with clear and present challenges! The author(s) wrap up the text by calling on decision makers, policy advisers, government and others to develop Local, Regional and National Regenerative Landscape Plans - and to value our Natural Capital.
Overall, an excellent read. Highly suitable for all Australians!"