Your Brain & Climate Change or Thinking about Exponential Thinking

When asked why we (humanity) hasn’t found the political will to adopt strong solutions to reduce greenhouse gasses, I find myself thinking about the human brain, not getting angry with politicos.  The true problem is our perceptions … human brains are not wired to understand exponential change.  That is the underlying reason politicians haven’t make more progress on climate change.

Our brains are wired to understand physical items, and to assume everything will continue to move forward in the same way it recently has. The past two years have amply demonstrated that the occasional dramatic event happens. We can see them and coping with significant change can be difficult.  But we still tend to overlook long-term trends because the human brain looks for stability and linear trends.  We simply can’t easily understand or imagine exponential growth.

Take a thought experiment with me:

Consider bacteria – a single, impossible to see without a microscope, bacterium – with the potential to wipe out all pets in the world. This bacterium has no constraints on growth, and splits in two every 60 seconds. A single cell began life at noon and (again, this is a thought experiment) when 1 cup of the bacteria, exists, it will be almost impossible to save any pets in the entire world. And it will take 1 hour to multiply to the point of filling 1 cup.

Ask the average, well-educated person when the cup will be half full, describing the doubling every minute and the full cup at 1:00.  Most will say the cup will be half full at 12:30. But the correct answer is 12:59. 

At 12:45, the colony of bacteria is so small as to be a faint dust in the cup. To help visualize this, consider coffee grounds in a measuring cup.

  • At 12:50, there is 1/20 of a teaspoon.
  • At 1:00, there is a full cup
  • At 11:03, the coffee can is full
  • At 1:11, a pickup truck is overflowing
  • At 1:15, the bacteria colony is the size of a small house

We have a solution – Soil health. RegenIowa is a non-profit focused on helping farmers find a lower cost way to farm, using soil biology and insights into soil science, as an alternative to agrochemicals.

Along the way, the improvement in soil health increases the flavor and nutrient density of food. But just as importantly, it sequesters carbon – pulling carbon (CO2) out of the air and putting it in the ground. We see leaves, but 40% and 70% of the sugars and other carbon chain molecules flow out of the roots and into the soil to feed the microbes that digest the nutrients for plants. The soil microbe biome is very similar to the gut microbe biome.

Working with BRT of Ladera Iowa, which is delivering products to farmers, and SymSoil Inc. which can mass produce soil biology, Regen Iowa is changing farming, fighting weather challenges and improving food – by making farming more profitable.

Be Part of the Solution. Donate to help RegenIowa reach more farmers

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Published by Elizabethp

RegenIowa restores the indigenous soil ecosystem and seeks to convert 1 million acres from conventional, fertilizer based farming to biological farming by 2025, in Iowa. This is done with soil conditioning, minerals and a combination of a broad biodiversity of local fungi, protozoans, bacteria, microscopic insects and other soil life. This microbiome cycles plant nutrients which feeds plants the way nature intended. Mitigating climate change and better food are additional benefits.

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