Against the Grain is a unique book on climate change -- it is a book full of hope and the hope is based on solid action and evidence on Australian farms.
Against the Grain is a book that tells how individual farmers in south-eastern Australia, one of the places where climate change is hitting the planet hardest, are meeting the challenge of climate change head on -- and winning.
It tells how they are breaking the mould by tackling climate change on their farms at all levels:
- Developing ways to keep their farms functioning and profitable in an increasingly uncertain environment as climate change intensifies.
- Attacking the root cause of human-made climate change by slashing the output of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide on their farms even to the extent of some of them becoming net absorbers of the harmful greenhouse gases.
- In the process, providing important by-product benefits including improving the landscape visually, and adding to native flora and fauna (particularly bird) habitat.
Use science and technology
They do it in different ways to achieve different ends but in common they work hard to collect the data they need on their farms to apply the best and most appropriate science and technology to win. It sounds esoteric, but it is not.
Serious farmers, serious farms
Who are these farmers? A bunch of hobbyists, perhaps? No way. These are serious farmers, their farms are large, medium, and small; they run various types of operations in the cropping and livestock fields; their farms are in areas ranging from semi-arid to the best watered land in the region.
Their operations are professional, practical, and profitable -- and totally open for anyone to see and imitate. In fact, these farmers are only too happy to spread the word to their neighbors that they can beat climate change too, at a profit.
All but one are in Victoria, Australia’s south-eastern state, the other is in southern New South Wales, just over the border. They are all in the area being hardest hit by climate change in Australia.
I'm not a farmer -- why should I care?
Two reasons: you live in this warming world and you eat! These farmers are tackling warming at its source and finding ways to continue to produce food profitably despite the impact of climate change.
We must eat to live -- and with climate change impacting in different ways all over the world, the future of our food supplies is unpredictable. Most of what we eat in Australia is produced by Australian farmers. That will continue to be true in the future; maybe even more so than it is today. The only certainty is that the more we can grow in our own backyard, on farms in Australia, the better off we will be.
As now, the people who will grow that food for us are our farmers.
We should get behind these farmers who are finding better ways to grow food to slash the huge output of damaging greenhouse gases of today's common farming methods. By slashing these outputs, the fourteen farmers featured in the book, and others like them, are doing us all a huge favor in tackling climate change at its source -- and demonstrating to other farmers, both here and overseas, how to do it.
And it is not costing us a cent.
We can overcome climate change
Bill Hampel, whose view of life on earth was indelibly impacted by growing up in the Mallee, the semi-arid wheat cropping area in the far north-west of Victoria, went looking for these farmers, talked with them, and was inspired by what they are doing.
He wrote Against the Grain to tell the world: "Human-made climate change is upon us but we can survive it, and we can overcome it -- we can leave the world a better place".
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