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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/14/17

Regeneration: Rules for Revolutionaries

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Rule Number One: Talk about big change, not small change

We need to stop focusing exclusively on our favorite single issues or on the latest "protest du jour" against the Trump Administration. The reason Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently the most popular national politician is not because he's talking about single-issue small-scale reforms, but rather because he's talking about a multi-issue economic and political revolution. In times of radical crisis and dissatisfaction, people are looking for systemic change, not just minor reforms or empty rhetoric.

Rule Number Two: Describe the New Revolution in positive, solution-oriented terms, with a special emphasis on regenerative food, farming and land use

Regeneration: Formed or created again; spiritually reborn or converted; restored to a better, higher, or more worthy state.

The regeneration of the body politic requires that we disengage ourselves from business-as-usual activism and the standard gloom and doom conversation on climate, health, war, politics, economics, ethics, and peace.

"Sustaining" a dying planet or "mitigating" catastrophic climate change or political fascism is no longer an option. We must change the global conversation surrounding the climate crisis, global poverty, unemployment, low-paying jobs, endless war, and deteriorating public health from halfway measures of "mitigating" to "reversing" or "solving."

As we must never tire of explaining, there are grounds for hope. In terms of our food, farming, health and climate crisis, there is an organic, world-changing, field-tested, shovel-ready climate-stabilizing solution at hand. It's no further away than the knives and forks in our hands. It already exists, on our local farms, gardens, lawns, parks, rangelands, wetlands and forests. The solution to Climate Armageddon and many of our other pressing problems (health, nutrition, rural poverty) lies literally in conserving, restoring and re-carbonizing the living soil beneath our feet. Regenerative food, farming and land use, scaled up globally over the next 25 years--whereby we draw down more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than we emit, and store this carbon in the soil, forests, and wetlands--can turn the tide of modern history from degeneration to Regeneration.

According to India activist and author Vandana Shiva, "Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy."

Although Regeneration is used most commonly in reference to transformative food, farming and land-use practices, from the perspective of our new Movement, Regeneration principles can be constructively applied to every major problem of modern society, including national and international security, economics, unemployment, politics, health and ethics.

Even if the world manages to move to 100-percent renewable energy and zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, as pledged by 200 nations at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, and manages to "sustain" or stabilize atmospheric CO2 at 450-500 ppm, this is not enough to get us back to the safe level of 280-350 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere. The only way we can safeguard the future of civilization is to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, but to also simultaneously scale up regenerative food, farming and land use so as to sequester enough carbon (200-250 billion tons) in our soils, forests and wetlands to reach the kind of "normal" atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases that we had several hundred years ago, before the industrial revolution.

If you are unfamiliar with the enormous impact of industrial food and farming and destructive deforestation and land use practices on global warming and the concept of natural carbon sequestration through regenerative land use, please visit the Regeneration International website.

If you're unaware, as most of us are, that the majority of greenhouse gas emissions today come from not cars or industrial manufacturing and utilities, but rather from our out-of-control industrial food, farming and land-use practices, read this compelling article.

Rule Number Three: Connect the dots between single-issue movements and constituencies

None of our current single-issue movements are strong enough to change the degenerate dynamics in the marketplace or the political arena. We can't go on having a food, anti-GMO and organic movement over here, a climate, environmental and anti-war movement over there, and scores of separate silos for environmental justice, health care, natural health, alternative energy, animal rights, LGBT rights, immigration rights, fair trade, Black Lives Matter, indigenous people's rights, fair labor, women's rights, family farmers' rights, and students' rights. We can't go on having a segment of radicals and progressives who work on electoral politics but stay aloof from protests and issue-based campaigns, while those of us working on consumer, economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice or other issue-based campaigns ignore electoral politics.

Rule Number Four: Beyond online activism, build a massive on-the-ground Resist and Regenerate Movement

We can't rely on internet activism alone to get the job done. Yes, we must become even more effective in terms of using the internet and social media for public education and for putting pressure on corporations, regulatory bodies and politicians. But we also have to regularly step away from our laptops and phones, and trade Facebook time for face-to-face time. We need to communicate and meet up in person with our friends and neighbors, and our fellow activists in different movements, and begin to figure out how to exercise our collective consumer power, and political power, in numbers too big to be ignored. We need a new movement--one that empowers consumers and citizens to both resist the corporate takeover of our government, and also to propose solutions to regenerate our health, environment, economy and democracy.

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Ronnie Cummins is founder and director of the  Organic Consumers Association . Cummins is author of numerous articles and books, including "Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers" (Second (more...)
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