Positive changes refute climate ‘catastrophism’
Since Julie and her husband John Ott moved to her parents’ farm, the James Ranch north of Durango, three decades ago, three more siblings have joined them on the 400-acre farm where they produce meat, vegetables, fruit, eggs and cheese which is sold through their own restaurant and market.
Demand has grown so much that they are now partnering with over 50 local farms and ranches in the community, as well as the Valley Roots Food Center in the San Luis Valley and the Southwest Food Co-op.
âSomething extremely exciting is happening, and I believe it is happening all over the world,â said Julie Ott. âWe need to adapt to our local communities, do it right and use our resources to their fullest potential. “
In the wake of the much-discussed United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the Institute for Science and Policy at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science convened a panel to examine how climate and agriculture overlap closer to home. .
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It was organized in conjunction with Colorado State University System’s new Spur campus in Denver.
The James Ranch is a model of conscientious integration of people, land and livestock. Taking a different but parallel approach, Tocabe, a two-location fast-paced restaurant and casual market in Denver that focuses on native and indigenous foods.
Co-owner Matt Chandra said the goal was to create a market path for tribal communities in the area and beyond. Its co-owner Ben Jacobs is a member of the Osage Nation of northeastern Oklahoma, where market bison meat is processed.
For him, coping with the climate includes sourcing meat directly from Native American ranchers, preparing smaller portions, and putting produce and vegetables at the center of the plate.
âThere is a huge element of consumer education. It’s a question of quality rather than quantity, âsaid Chandra. “It’s about the meal, the memories and the impact it makes of being too drunk and full.”
In Southeast Colorado, Nicole Rosmarino believes the future lies in preserving natural ecosystems with native wildlife and vegetation.
âBison are at the heart of restoration efforts, or at least they should be,â she said.
As the Founder and Executive Director of the Southern Plains Land Trust, she helps oversee over 32,000 acres of shortgrass prairie. The flagship property, the Heartland Ranch, is larger than several national parks and even some countries, and continues to grow in size.
While over 90 percent of the nation’s bison are managed like cattle, those at Heartland Ranch are strictly intended to provide ecosystem services.
âIn our opinion, sustainable food production should be associated with reserves for nature,â she said.
The reservation bans cultivation in perpetuity in exchange for participation in a carbon market, she explained. An estimate from an international climate standards group put the value of biodiversity and climate services on their ranch at over $ 8 million a year, she said.
âEvery dollar we earn, we allocate it to acquire more land and sequestrate more carbon,â she said. âThis is a sustained and intentional effort to put money back into the local community, which is struggling with a level of poverty three times the state average. “
Climate scientist Michael Mann uses the term “catastrophism” to describe a sense of irrational skepticism and futility that is becoming increasingly prevalent, according to Brad Udall, scientist and scholar at CSU since 2014.
âYou see it from a lot of different circles,â he said during the webinar. âWe are facing challenges like mankind has never seen. But I like to think that people will rise to the challenge and figure out how to work together.
Udall, who focuses on the impact of climate on water resources in the West, particularly in the Colorado River Basin, was previously at the University of Colorado, but said he enjoyed being at CSU because of its connection to the farming community.
âIn the world of water, what gives me optimism is that people know each other now. The ecologists now know the breeders, âhe said. “In this state, people talk to each other and that’s where the solutions will come from.”
Eugene Kelly, deputy director of the Ag Experiment Station at CSU, echoed this observation, saying it was important to start and have these conversations.
The panel, which took turns weighing in on the merits of animal agriculture, the potential for reducing water and energy consumption, and the challenge of eliminating food waste, was overall rather optimistic about the future following a global pandemic.
The James Ranch restaurant, which hosts weekly dinners on Thursday evenings to introduce diners to the farmers who feed them, has been an “oasis” for many during tough times, Ott said.
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âCustomers are more and more informed,â Chandra added. “It’s a journey, but changes are happening today and will continue to happen.”
Udall said the pandemic has led many people to reassess what they are doing and why, which is likely to have a lasting impact.
“A lot of these things will lead to better lifestyles,” he predicted