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The Ecosystem Wilting Point Threshold and Defining Regeneration with Paul Hawken

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This week we share news from budding research on The Ecosystem Wilting Point Threshold (TEWPT), published by University of Missouri, and led by researcher, Jeffrey Wood. We share snapshots of Paul Hawken’s work, Regeneration: Ending The Climate Crisis in One Generation, and in the audio version of this podcast, replay the first 20 minutes of our interview with Paul. You can find that wherever you listen to podcasts.

The feature-length interview with Paul Hawken is also on Youtube and linked via a card at 00:03:05 on this interview.

00:00:55 The Ecosystem Wilting Point Threshold

00:02:30 The Wilt Point Demonstrated In Your Home

00:03:05 News From My Community and Words of Encouragement for Climate Activists and #FridaysForFuture Protesters

00:06:33 My Interview With Paul Hawken [first 20 minutes], originally aired 9/15/2021. Complete podcast episode blog and recording can be found here:

00:26:00 Snapshot of Regeneration – Ending The Climate Crisis In One Generation (3 sections I love)

00:07:38 Local regenerative farming news and #fridaysforfuture protest in Palo Alto, CA

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The Ecosystem Wilting Point Threshold and Defining Regeneration with Paul Hawken

A once thriving forest can reach it’s wilting point threshold with year after year of extended drought.

I want to kick off today’s episode by talking about something new in the world of climate research. This week, the News Bureau of the University of Missouri reached out to me to let me know about a new published study and concept that’s helping scientists to prepare forests for climate change.

It’s called the ecosystem wilting point threshold. I’m gonna say that again. The ecosystem wilting point threshold (TEWPT), and it allows scientists to go back to their ecosystem models and get a greater understanding of what’s really happening, so that they can better ascertain how forests are performing across the world with different makeups and how they’re performing during droughts.

This new way of looking at research will help us to be more efficient when planning natural resource management because it can tell us when a forest will stop sequestering carbon and how much water the forest will need so it can once again begin sequestering carbon and producing oxygen. These are key measures of its compatability with ultimately being a part of the climate solution. So I’m gonna quote here from the article by Mizzou, the mu researcher discovers threshold that triggers drought response in forests.

“This oak Hickory forest in central Missouri reaches its ecosystem wilting point between two to four weeks of extreme drought. At that point, the forest would need soaking rainfall to rejuvenate.”

Mizzou Article Posted by Courtney Perrett, 2/20/23 here.

That’s right. The ecosystem wilting point threshold is reached when soaking rainfall is what is needed in order for a forest to. I think almost anyone who has had potted plants in their home that they perhaps forgot to water for a stretch of long of time that’s too long will ultimately understand this.

There is simply a point beyond which no amount of water seems to help a plant recover. It’s as if the roots themselves just get too dry to uptake water so the leaves never come back from their wilting. And I’ll quote the researcher, Jeffrey Wood.

“Forests are pretty important. They’re connected to weather and the climate in ways that we still don’t fully understand.”

Jeffrey Wood, University of Missouri researcher and lead author of the study

That’s, I think putting it simply, so as I read this paper commentary around it and the press release, I got to thinking about my interview with Paul Hawken about a year and a half ago.

I got the chance to meet him and record an episode featuring his then new book Regeneration: ending the Climate Crisis in one Generation. In that interview, he talks about getting to know where you live, to really understand it, to know its history and its natural landscape. The people that were there before. The land that existed before, there were buildings on it.

We yet know, so very little. And so as I reflected on that interview, I’m choosing on the podcast version of this episode to now play the first 20 minutes of my connection with Paul Hawken. This interview will likely be one of my very favorites for a long, long time, and so today in the audio version, I’m sharing that with all of you.

With a heart full of love for my local forests, for those that survived fires and the land that’s still recovering in my home state of California. I hope you enjoy this. Look back to September, 2021 before Regeneration would become his sixth New York Times bestselling book as much as I do. For those watching on YouTube, I’ll include the link along with where to find my original episode in the show notes related to this.

Now I’m looking here at the book Regeneration ending the Climate Crisis in one generation. I still hear people, especially in the climate space, talk about drawdown like the Bible. And I really want to say that I think that this book is, , this book should replace that, and I’m gonna point to a few key sections of the book now because I think each of you should pick this up and take a look at these particular chapters.

The first is related to forests, and the reason I’m drawing us to that is simple. Our forests have the ability to draw down carbon to their roots. They have the ability to affect weather, they create weather systems. The small water cycle creates weather systems. It’s an incredible chapter. You learn about Afforestation reforestation and even proforestation, and which you learned about on this podcast and on on my other show, nutrition Without Compromise.

When I got to interview Dr. Bill Moomaw, who is the originator of that particular term. There’s another piece here that I just was super wowed by that I wanna draw your attention to as well, and that is this section called We Are The Weather, written by Jonathan Saffron. Four. It’s an essay that’s excerpted from his book of the same title.

He’s an incredible author. He’s a New York Times bestseller himself. He has written some of my favorite works of fiction. This one happens to be nonfiction, but we have an effect on the weather even when we put food on our plates. And the last is the thing that he portends to the Paul Hawken portended to in this particular piece of our interview, this 20 minutes and a half.

And that is simply this action and connection together. Together we can create change. If he is being honest about the last part of his book, pretending The Future One. I suspect that his next work, the one ha that is yet to be published might be called something like Connection, perhaps reconnection, perhaps saying goodbye to some of this social media stuff and reconnecting with one another, with action with Earth, with our community, with our home.

So I really hope that you’ve enjoyed this particular episode, which was more of a flashback to earlier work, but with current research that I think we should all be looking at at the same time. And what I want to do is point you also to the complete interview that I did with Paul Hawkin. I may be sharing in future weeks excerpts like this one again, but I also did a deep dive into each section of the book on this podcast.

10 episodes strong, going through chapter by chapter, ocean’s farming, wilding, letting Land, return to wild, et cetera. And I did so because I also acknowledge that not everyone will pick up the. And also some of us learn by listening, so hopefully these things are an asset to you as well.

I want to also share some news from my community here. There are local farms in the Santa Cruz County area that are working to engage young students with the act of farming and build more regenerative systems. There are also protests happening around the state and around the globe as part of Fridays for the future.

As I record this episode, I am prepping to go to Palo Alto to connect with my friend Matt Schlegel, who I’ve interviewed on this podcast before.

The next time I have a YouTube to share with you all, you’re likely going to see SNP specifically from that event. With that, I wanna thank all of you for joining me today and just to remind you that your actions, the things that you do in the day-to-day can actually support our forests, can support, the ability of our forest to sequester carbon.

We can all be a part of the change. We can help plant more trees. We can ultimately build forests that are more resilient, but it will take all of us paying attention and getting to know how they work, what their wilt point is, along with researchers, along with scientists and collaborators to really get there.

Thank you, listeners and watchers now and always for being a part of this pod and this community because together through action, connection and more, we can do so much more.

We can care more, we can be better. We can regenerate earth. Thank you.


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