It’s time for a Hemp Revolution
“Every generation faces a challenge. In the 1930s, it was the creation of Social Security. In the 1960s, it was putting a man on the moon. In the 1980s, it was ending the Cold War. Our generation’s challenge will be addressing global climate change while sustaining a growing global economy.” – Eileen Clausen, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Today, November 30th we have probably the most important ministerial meeting of the year, the United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP 21 where the heads of state are gathering in Paris to discuss what action needs to be taken to avert climate change catastrophe.
Fossil fuel consumption, and our meat industry can be considered the most responsible for climate change. Around 80% of the CO2 being added to the atmosphere each year currently comes directly from the burning of natural gas, and coal and oil deposits. Agriculture is another significant driver of global warming and causes 15% of all emissions, half of which are from livestock. One pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons of water for the growing of food and the rearing of the livestock.
While the nation states will be debating what can be done to control the situation, there is a simple solution that is being ignored and dismissed due to the politics behind it, and that is the awesome properties and power of the Cannabis plant.
“Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and prosperity of the nation” — Thomas Jefferson.
Hemp can be considered a ‘super-crop’ that has been grown worldwide for at least 12,000 years. It is one of the most prolific, versatile and powerful bio-tools available to humanity to meet the enormous challenges of sustainability, climate change, environmental degradation and the destruction of eco-systems.
There are more than 25,000 known uses for hemp. It produces food, fibre, fuel and has unique medicinal properties. One hectare of hemp can produce as much usable fibre as four hectares of trees, or two hectares of cotton. It is the world’s most versatile natural product, potentially replacing wood, cotton, and petroleum products, including plastics.
Hemp grows in a short, flexible, summer window of the annual crop cycle and grows in diverse climates and soil types. It does not require pesticides or herbicides, as it grows tightly spaced, out-growing and blocking out weeds. This leaves a weed-free field for follow on crops while simultaneously conditioning and securing topsoil.
The Billion Dollar Crop:
It was considered the ‘billion dollar crop’ by Popular Mechanics Magazine in 1937 before the USA began its campaign to suppress the hemp industry. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper. In 1942 when US sources of “Manila hemp,” (a genus of the banana plant), were cut off by the Japanese in WWII, the US Army and US Department of Agriculture promoted the “Hemp for Victory” campaign to grow hemp in the US.
Hemp As Bio-Fuel:
According to the IPCC between ten and fifteen percent of total global cropland is available for biomass production specifically for energy and transport. The greatest advantage of hemp cultivation, as a method of climate change mitigation, is the comparative ease with which it could be integrated into the existing fossil fuel economy.
With the ability to be grown at all but the very coldest latitudes, hemp could form the basis of an internationally distributed yet locally produced fuel industry. Hemp-based ethanol would not only be a complementary product to the oil economy (combining ethanol with gasoline increases quality of gasoline and produces significant environmental benefits), but could also be used as a direct replacement because it can be used with existing technologies.
It is also the only biomass crop that can add to the food production of land rather than replacing food production, as other biofuel crops, such as corn, triggered global food riots.
Solution to Agro Forestry:
Hemp cultivation is 400% more efficient at CO2 absorption than agro-forestry per land use. Its rapid growth rate means it can provide the industrial quantities of biomass required in our modern society. Hemp can be processed into multiple sustainable raw materials solutions to suit the needs of local communities wherever it is grown, and save and preserve remaining forest resources and biodiversity.
Hemp is far less vulnerable to changes in climate, compared to slow and medium growth forests. It also shares many of the biochemical characteristics of hardwood and several metric tons of wood can be produced in a hectare, annually or bi-annually in hotter climates.
Growing hemp on deforested hillsides prevents landslides, run-off, and also prepares land for future crops or tree planting. In addition, it requires low-intensive management and can effectively replace all the goods and services traditionally supplied by depleted forest resources including fuel and shelter.
An industrial hemp crop (80ha), planted in Nicaragua primarily for seed, survived Hurricane Mitch more or less intact due to its long tap roots and intricate root structures that held the plants securely to each other and the land. Over 60 chemicals called cannabinoids collectively serve to repel insects, improve water use efficiency, prevent water loss and also protect the plant from excessive UV-B radiation.
Compared to cotton that requires about 1400 gallons of water for every pound of produce, hemp requires half that or even less and produces 200-250% more fibre on the same amount of land. The Aral Sea in Russia, once the world’s fourth largest inland lake with a thriving healthy ecosystem is now only 15% of it’s original size due to the cotton industry and the heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. Hemp in comparison, aerates the land, rejuvenates soil, needs no herbicides or pesticides, and creates a thriving ecosystem.
Hemp as Food:
Hemp protein contains all twenty-one known amino acids, including the eight essential ones adult bodies cannot produce. Proteins are considered complete when they contain all the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities and ratios to meet the body’s needs.
It can supply any diet with a vegetarian source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, chlorophyll, and a complete, balanced gluten-free source of the essential amino acids.
Hemp is so versatile because, it is seasonal, it increases the nutritional output of the land, it increases yields from other crops in the rotation cycle, and bio-remediates and protects soil, while providing highly useful, versatile biomass and sustainable, biodegradable end products.
The Cannabis plant has been suppressed by the dominating industries that see it as a threat to their monopoly, such steel, pharmaceuticals, cotton, petroleum, plastics and construction. However, it can no longer be ignored as the global environmental crisis we are facing is much greater than the need to profit these unsustainable and destructive industries.
How much longer are we going to sit back and watch our planet go up in smoke while one of the major solutions, Cannabis remains relegated to the sidelines…?
it’s time for a Hemp Revolution …