Show Notes

Guest Bio: Alpha Lo

Alpha runs the Climate Water Project, is co-founder of the Regenerative Water Alliance, water researcher, writer and podcaster, bringing people together in the regenerative water field.

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Brad Lancaster Rain Water Runoff

Zach Weiss Halting Our Drought-Fire-Flood Path

Summary 

In this insightful exchange with Alpha Lo regarding water regeneration, the discourse centres on the intricate interaction between the water and carbon cycles, highlighting their pivotal roles in upholding life. He underscores the significance of biodiversity and advocates for regenerative approaches to fortify ecosystems. The conversation explores the repercussions of human activities on the Earth’s water-death spiral, emphasising the imperative for extensive interventions such as reforestation, regreening, and a shift in agricultural practices to counteract this concerning trend. Throughout the discussion, Alpha introduces the notion of a “slow water movement, first coined by journalist Erica Gies, encouraging individuals to contribute to water regeneration initiatives using initiatives like the #SlowWater hashtag, fostering awareness and collaborative efforts for a sustainable future.

“…with a lot of these regenerative agriculture, permaculture, agri forestry techniques, you can start building up that carbon soil quite fast. And that’s key to, to the whole, to the whole thing working.

There’s a lot of complex variables because the whole small water cycle where the water goes, evapotranspires and comes back down as rain, depends on the soil, depends on forest, you know, depends on a lot of vegetation and and if we’re simultaneously destroying this vegetation, it creates, kind of feedback loops that get worse, but if we can also get the feedback loops running in the right way, we could also kind of increase this, this cycle.”

~ Alpha Lo

Harmony of H2O: Solutions for Water Regeneration

Water regeneration, a critical aspect of environmental sustainability, takes centre stage in a conversation with Alpha Lo. The discussion delves into the intricate connection between the water and carbon cycles, emphasising their interdependence. Alpha highlights the significance of water for sustaining life, forming the foundation for various organisms and ecosystems.

The dialogue unfolds with insights into the carbon cycle, elucidating its role in building complex molecular chains and the often-overlooked process of decomposition. Alpha draws attention to the importance of biodiversity in facilitating chemical processes and the breakdown of geological materials, a crucial aspect of the carbon cycle. Notably, forests, with their untouched ecosystems, boast nutrient-dense soils, attributing their richness to a harmonious balance in the cycles.

The conversation expands to the broader context of global ecosystems, shedding light on the intricate relationship between deforestation, desertification, and the water cycle. Alpha underscores the urgent need for large-scale reforestation efforts, particularly in regions like Africa, where deforestation exacerbates the growth of the Sahara desert, disrupting natural water vapour and wind patterns.

As the dialogue progresses, Alpha advocates for regenerative agricultural practices and permaculture as essential elements in building a resilient environment. Acknowledging the impact of industrial agriculture on soil health and water absorption, he calls for a transformative shift towards regenerative practices to create a positive feedback loop in the water cycle.

Alpha introduces the concept of “slow water,” first introduced by Erica Gies, emphasising the need to slow down rainwater, allowing it to permeate the soil and contribute to groundwater. This notion, coupled with the idea of creating “sponge cities,” encourages urban planning that mimics natural ecosystems, ensuring efficient water absorption and utilisation.

The dialogue concludes with Alpha’s call for a collective effort in social, economic, and political spheres to initiate a global water movement. He introduces the concept of the “regenerative water alliance” and encourages people to join the cause, emphasising that individual actions, when aggregated, can have a substantial impact on a global scale.

In summary, the conversation with Alpha Lo unveils the intricate web of connections in water regeneration, urging a holistic approach to environmental conservation. From understanding the nuances of the carbon and water cycles to advocating for regenerative practices and social movements, Alpha’s insights provide a roadmap for fostering a sustainable and regenerative relationship with water on a planetary scale.

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Transcription

Please note: While we do our best to edit the following information, some finer details of podcast conversations can be lost in transcriptions.

Water. We can’t live without it yet. Our waterways are toxic. Rivers are running low or drying out. Rains are either flooding, carrying away lives and livelihoods, or are non-existent with less and less water. Feeding our ecosystems in the form of rain for agriculture, wildlife, wildlife.

[00:00:35] AKP: This leads to greater risk of devastating fires. Meet water physicist, co-founder of the Regenerative Water Alliance, eco Social Designer and strategist who brings people together in the regenerative water field. Alpha suggests positive actions we can take on both micro and macro levels to regenerate the dying watersheds on our blue watery planet.

Together we learn how we can address our planetary water issues.

[00:00:59] Alpha: I think, I forget who he said, maybe said, he said, water begets water . So if you get the water going properly, then it’ll actually bring you even more water.

[00:01:11] AKP: All right, well, welcome Alpha to the Far Out show. Very, very cool to have you on here.

[00:01:16] Alpha: Okay. Thank you for having me.

[00:01:18] AKP: Pleasure, pleasure. I did wanna ask you Alpha you’ve got quite a lot. I mean, I had a look, I had a little skulk around your LinkedIn profile and you’ve got the co-founder of the Regenerative Water Alliance, an eco social designer and strategist.

You bring people together. That’s definitely true. Because I met you in a, in something that you facilitated online in the regenerative waterfield and a water physicist. What is a water physicist?

[00:01:42] Alpha: My training is in physics and then My dad, who was also a physicist, was actually studying some forms of microscopic water.

So I was doing research in microscopic water, so that’s, that’s the water physicist part. And, and then later, it was only later on that I actually got intrigued with the microscopic water cycle.

[00:01:59] AKP: And what is microscopic water?

[00:02:01] Alpha: So water is actually surprisingly, one of the least understood of chemicals because it has lots of really interesting behaviour. . For instance, ICE actually expands most solid most things when they turn solid. Actually it decreases in size, but water actually increases in size because of the particular way the water molecule structure.

So the water molecules can structure in different types of phases, and there’s different phase transitions it goes through and So it’s kind of studying these emergent patterns that the water molecules make.

[00:02:30] AKP: And how does that impact on, say, a larger macro picture of you regenerating a walk water cycle or a small water cycle, or the large water cycles, how does that reflect on basically helping the planet?

[00:02:45] Alpha: Well, some of the stuff I study, I’m still trying to figure it out. I think there’s a link, but I haven’t made the link. But different phases definitely impact the water cycle. So water can, you know, be in liquid or ice or snow. And so these different phases and patterns and the phase transition points are very important for the water cycle.

[00:03:05] AKP: And so, for example, like a frozen, frozen water is gonna obviously act differently to liquid as opposed to the vapour version like a cloud.

[00:03:15] Alpha: Right. Yeah. And then it also, it becomes important because there’s something called bio precipitation where fungi and bacteria have actually been able to show that they can nucleate some of the water vapour in the air.

So, you know, water molecules in the air, they find it a lot easier to form clouds when they have some small particle to nucleate onto. And so there’s certain types of bacteria. One quarter c p. Actually has certain patterns on it, which allows the water to then crystallise onto it and form these, you know, microscopic water patterns.

[00:03:50] AKP: that was exactly the word I was looking for today. Cause I was talking about it with my 17 year old son and I was like, there’s some name and I dunno what the name of it is, and it’s where the leaves help to create. You know you know, I dunno, I’m being such a lay person here, but the clouds, that’s why we need to plant more trees.

And it’s like, oh, okay. So is that what bioprecipitation is?

[00:04:12] Alpha: Yeah, it’s basically biological particles that can initiate nucleation of rain.

[00:04:17] AKP: Nucleation being creation?

[00:04:20] Alpha: So basically you know rain forms in the atmosphere when you have enough water vapour concentration and then the temperature’s low enough.

But even though at first when the temperature is at a certain point, it can form, it could theoretically form You know, the little cloud droplets, it, it often doesn’t because it, it, it has such a low probability of different water molecules hitting each other and climbing on. So it’s much easier if there’s a larger particle for all the water molecules to kind of latch onto and then, and then, and then kind of nucleate into a larger particle.

[00:04:52] AKP: So what would you like if you were talking to someone at a bus stop? What is nucleate? Is it the creation of rain?

[00:04:59] Alpha: nutrition is where? A, a larger particle helps a phase transition happen. So it happened, it helps the water change from, you know, water vapour to a solid form. Okay.

[00:05:14] AKP: And or liquid form.

So you make and share a lot of educational videos and I know you’ve got a lot of sort of, online… facilitate a lot of chats and conversations and, you know, we had one a couple of weeks ago. Why is that so important? Why is it important for people to learn more about water and what does this mean for our planet?

[00:05:33] Alpha: Well, water and food are some of the most important things for life for, you know, our societies. And there currently is a lot of water scarcity in a lot of different parts of the world. So that’s, well, that’s one key reason. So restoring the water cycles helps, you know, us deal with water scarcity.

And then water also impacts droughts and fires and floods and heat waves. And so it impacts our climate. And so far we have a lot, you know, a lot of talk about the carbon cycle, which really impacts climate. But the water cycle also really impacts climate and not enough attention is being given to that.

And we can really do a lot of good to calm the climate systems down by restoring the water cycle.

[00:06:18] AKP: And I wanted to ask you, And I’d like to address this a little bit later on, but I’ve, I’ve kind of got two questions. One is that, what, is it something that everyday people can do straight up to help restore the water cycle?

And, and the second one is there’s a lot of different conversations online that climate change is a hoax, that climate change is not true. And some people say that climate change has been co-opted as a narrative by some big companies, you know, in a form of greenwashing, which is unfortunate because then a whole lot of people don’t take any notice of the real issues.

Could you address first my second question and second my first question?

So is climate change real?

[00:07:07] Alpha: a part of what makes it a bit complex is because there’s a certain amount of statistical behaviour in it, and it involves a lot of variables. And you’re trying to understand a very complex system on the Earth. With so many things happening and so many interactions.

And so that’s what’s made it a bit of a complex discussion to understand and, you know, how you collect the data, say that, and how you average the temperature over the whole system. So I think that’s kind of given people some leeway to pick at certain points and then try to generalise perhaps too much from a couple of smaller things.

[00:07:42] AKP: maybe it sounds like a stupid question, but I just wanted to confirm that there is an issue around climate change.

[00:07:49] Alpha: Oh, right. There’s a problem with climate change and I think a lot of climatologists meteorologists think so too.

[00:07:55] AKP: Mm. Yeah, for sure. And what, what does this mean then for, for the planet? What does it mean for us? What are the implications for people who have been turning up blind eye to this?

[00:08:09] Alpha: Well, I think the, the, basically the climate is becoming a lot more unstable and you’re getting more, you’re getting both more extreme rains and extreme drought.

And sometimes in the same place. And uh, so it, these are leading to, to, to more floods and more fires and more droughts and, and so, so just the environmental conditions that our society lives in is problematic right now. As well as we have to find ways to get enough water to, to, to people.

[00:08:41] AKP: So it feels like, like, you know, that thing, that energy can’t be produced. It just, it changes form. How can, how can it be that we don’t have enough water on the planet, given that water doesn’t go anywhere? It just keeps changing form.

[00:08:55] Alpha: It’s, it’s where the water is. So basically our continents can have more water on them or less, and. and some of the water on our continents can be drained out to the ocean. And if, if so, then there’s less water left on the continent. So, for instance we’ve drained a lot of the wetlands, like maybe 80% of the wetlands of the world.

And so a lot of that water is now in the ocean instead of on the land.

[00:09:21] AKP: And once it’s in the ocean. Wouldn’t it be also forming clouds and coming back onto the land? I know I sound really simplistic, but I wanted to sort of, I wanted to ask you to paint the picture of how things should be compared to how things are.

[00:09:35] Alpha: Yeah. So I mean, I think there’s more water in the oceans. I mean, there’s less water on the land than in the oceans. And once it’s in the ocean, it can form rains there too. And in. , you know, you have atmospheric rivers, which are big, huge amounts of water, ocean, water vapour going up and then going inland and blowing inland and dumping water.

And then we have hurricanes forming too. And so and, and it, it seems like we actually might be having more of these atmospheric rivers and more of these hurricanes now. So it is actually bringing back water onto the land, but it’s bringing it back in these extreme forms, which then cause floods. And because our infrastructure is able to do, and because we’ve degraded the land, it’s not able to absorb as much of that incoming huge torrential storms. I mean, if, we’d left nature more in its wild state, it would be able to absorb a lot more of the atmospheric rivers and the hurricanes. But because we have roads that funnel the water and storm drains that funnel the water right back out to the ocean and channelise rivers that funnel all that water back out to the ocean, we’re not able to hold onto lot of that water and use it to actually grow the vegetation and increase biodiversity on our.

[00:10:44] AKP: Hey, you FarOut Groovers. If you’re inspired to join a proactive, positive, intentional, and informed group to collaborate in restoring planetary water health, join Alpha’s newsletter@climatewaterproject. Link in the show notes.

[00:11:05] AKP: So, what would be three top things that anyone could do to start addressing this? I mean, a lot. I think that basically a lot of people feel. Overpowered by a sense of depression or a sense of like, it’s also hopeless and they don’t really know where to start and they maybe they’d like to be part of an initiative, like the things that you are doing.

But what, what about, you know, in the busy craziness of daily life, what are three simple things that people can be doing to take care of water?

[00:11:36] Alpha: Well, if you do have a garden or, you know, front yard or backyard, I mean, there’s things you can do. To have your garden capture more water. So I mean, a simple thing is just not to rake the leaves on your lawn because the leaves actually create more biomass.

And so then you can help begin building the biomass in your lawn. So, and, and various things, things you can do to improve your soil content. Say, you know, compost teas, mycelia, inoculation, you know, there’s a whole bunch of these regenerative gardening techniques, permaculture techniques, that as your soil gets richer, it is able to hold a lot more water in its soil.

You know, if you, if you just leave logs and branches lying around that can help absorb rain water. And you can build a rain garden. You can also do grey water systems in your house so that you know from your shower water or your kitchen water or your laundry water, it can funnel out into your garden.

So yeah, there’s lots of things you could do if, you know, if you have a yard to kind of make your house more water friendly. So, and if it has a lot more of these things it’s both able to absorb a lot more of the rain when it falls and and potentially some of it may even trickle down to the aquifers and replenish there.

And also if, if you do, if you’re in a more drought area, then you can capture more of that rain and so then you don’t need to use as much of the ducted water. And then in some places, it might also be useful to do range catchment things. And there’s also things that you can do in your neighbourhood, for instance.

I mean, our current paradigm for dealing with rain when it falls into our cities is not very good because it just flows out to the storm drains and back out to the ocean without infiltrating into the land and being used there. And so, Brad Lancaster, pioneered a technique called curb cuts. If you just put a little cut in your curb and if you have trees or vegetation to the side, then that storm water as it runs down the road can actually feed the plants.

So that’s something yeah, you can do in your neighbourhood. And then you could also organise your neighbours to do all kinds of things. Little Earthwork projects like swales or, or, you know, soil improvement. So there’s lots of these kinds of permacultural things you can organise your neighbours to do.

And then and then you can actually do, also do a lot if you organise your neighbours to kind of create a water council and then kind of sit in on local government meetings in your town council or suburb council meetings and. You know, and there’s lots of things that are happening at that, at that local level.

Sometimes you know, corporations are trying to take some of the local water and you can try to stand up for that. Or you could try to pass different measures like permeable pavement, which will allow the rainwater to infiltrate into the ground more. You know, river restoration in your area. There’s lots of things that you can then activate at the town level.

Maybe you know, advocate for creating wetlands.

[00:14:28] AKP: What about people who live in cities that don’t have access to gardens and things? How can they be, I mean, I guess they could be trying to collect rainwater and stuff. I, I know ourselves, we’re on the fifth floor and we watch the rain coming down in great droves, just wishing we could collect it somehow.

So what, what are some proactive ways that people who don’t actually have their own gardens, how can they be involved? I mean, you mentioned the common

[00:14:54] Alpha: Well, I guess, I dunno if you could do anything on the roof or maybe a grey water system or, or I guess you could try and do something in your neighbourhood, you know?

Right. With the curb cuts and stuff. Yeah. And then and I, I guess also water usage in your, if you’re an apartment building or complex yeah. And there may be small things to do. Like if you just have indoor plants that you are watering them with, you know, grey water and you know, you, you, there’s things you can do with your shower and toilets to use less water and stuff.

[00:15:21] AKP: Yeah. There are different things you can actually attach aren’t there to, to reduce the water usage. Yeah. And what, what about the things that you are doing online? Would you encourage people to sort of join even online initiatives so that they get more education and can become a little more proactive.

[00:15:36] Alpha: There’s, there’s a lot of things you can do at the local government. So as you kind of understand more, then you can actually try and activate things in your neighbourhood. You know, like you could get your local school to have a wetlands project or or, or forest or, you know, the library.

So there’s various things that you can activate in your neighbourhood. . And then if you are interested in legislation stuff, there’s all sorts of different legislation you might wanna push in your area. And different conservation efforts that, you know, conserving our forests and our wetlands you know, and or, or increasing, you know, just the insects are also really important and there’s lots of things because they’re building the soil and the soil is able to absorb more rain.

So there’s lots of, you know, bio-regional and, and more maybe state, national level stuff you could do also.

[00:16:24] AKP: What about things like all of the use of plastic water bottles and all of the so-called springwater? I heard it in one of the conversations actually on Earth regenerators, that they’re really these companies with absolutely no right to be taking water out of the ground and then selling it back to us because it belongs to the common. What’s your position on that?

[00:16:48] Alpha: Yeah, I think water should be more of a commons. And it is a problem when it’s kind of being transported, you know, with the use of fossil fuels to a lot of different places.

It throws off the whole rhythm of the water cycles. Yeah, this whole kind of corporate owning of the water and they’re, they’re often sucking, you know, water outta the headwaters or out of the groundwater, out of different places and, and, and kind of draining the water in those areas and

[00:17:13] AKP: And then making money from selling that on as, as a fancy product.

Yeah. I mean, maybe it does have medicinal benefits. What about, I heard in one, well, I didn’t hear it. I saw it in one of your newsletters. So I think we’ll put that in the show notes if people wanted to join up and listen or, or join Alpha online, but also to, to read the newsletters, which, and you have some really interesting stuff in there, like contributions from other thought leaders.

What about, what’s a flying river?

[00:17:41] Alpha: That’s where a lot of water vapour is, is kind of in a more narrow area in the atmosphere flowing by. So you can have as much water as, you know, large rivers like the Mississippi River flowing past in the atmosphere. So it’s just in a different form.

In the, on the ground, it’s in liquid form, whereas in the atmosphere, it’s in, in vapour forms, so you don’t see the water vapour. But there could be huge amounts of these water molecules in vapour form flowing, you know, flowing around. And so for instance, they can cause, you know, huge floods. There’s something that used to be called by the name, Pineapple Express.

You know, that came from more, I think, the Hawaiian area and then blew towards the west coast of the US and dumped, you know, huge amounts of water. And so that would be an atmospheric river. And in Australia when there was recent floods this year that was caused in part by atmospheric rivers that came out, you know, off the ocean and, and inland.

[00:18:38] Abheeti: Thanks for listening. You Groover, you. Come subscribe to the Far Out Newsletter to get regular episode updates and other cool stuff at FarOut.Show. Link is also in the show notes and description below.

[00:18:51] AKP: I shared a video that you’d actually shared with me called L.A. as a Sponge city. How realistic is it that cities all over the world could and I’ll share that link in the show notes. How realistic is it that cities all over the world could become sponge cities like this?

And could you explain what a sponge city is?

[00:19:10] Alpha: Yeah. The Sponge City concept originated in China because they were having huge floods that affected, you know, 200 million people. And so they realised that they needed to actually do work to absorb all that flood water. And so they instituted programs in 30 different cities, pilot cities in the, in China where each, you know, city would’ve hun you know, over a hundred different projects of doing rain gardens and re-implementing wetlands.

And then, some of these rivers, which have been channelised, they recurved them and, you know, put vegetation on outside the rivers. And so basically, and then by beside the roads, so that the roads don’t get flooded much. They put, you know, vegetation strips called bioswales, that the overflow water would then go into these grassy patches.

And so they basically implemented a lot of these measures so that it became like a sponge to absorb the floods. so Then it wouldn’t flood the houses and the roads as much. , this was introduced because of just the dire situation in China. But as you know, different places like Australia had huge floods this year.

Pakistan had huge floods. I think other places will start looking at some of these solutions and and LA there’s a group I think ex accelerated la I forget that. That’s kind of, I mean, and, and there’s various groups in la you know, looking to re-green and, you know, at, at somewhat of a smaller scale because L.A. is a concrete jungle.

But you know, to look at how you could absorb the water coming off parking lots. And then The river is also, there’s some efforts to restore the L.A. river so that it used, it’s, right now it’s a lot of concrete very ugly, you know, just this concrete channel that the water flow through. But they’re, you know, revegetating that.

And and, and that would slow down the water and absorb more of the water. And then there’s some you know, multimillion dollar wetland projects, like one in Burbank, in la A lot of the stormwater when it falls, was funnelled to these wetlands. And then the wetlands will have biochar and wood chips and microbes that will cleanse the water and then funnel it underneath.

And then the idea is that wells can draw up the water from these wetlands. And the idea, because LA has, has enough rain for, to supply half its population with water. But it just needs to collect all that rain. And so if a lot of. Rainwater can be funnelled to these wetlands. And I think, I don’t know if there’s as many as nine of these different wetland projects planned for the next decade, but as it creates more of these, it can, it can provide a lot more of its water.

So this Sponge City concept is, is, is interestingly useful for both drought situations like L.A.’s and also for flood situations like China. So and, and in part I think it needs to become a lot more part of the social cultural conversation. And then if it becomes much more of a part of the social cultural conversation, that’s when it becomes easier to then get legislation passed.

And governments doing work around this . And, you know, and with the, with social media, you, we can see paradigm shifts happen in social cultural conversations pretty quickly. And and if you know, the drought and the flood situation worsens drastically, it opens up a gap for this kind of conversation to happen and go viral.

[00:22:12] AKP: You just mentioned that it works equally for cities that are experiencing droughts and floods. How is it that something which is apparently so opposite, can have the same, you know, that the same mechanism can help both of those extremes?

[00:22:30] Alpha: Yeah, because it’s based on, it’s like our body, right? It has certain regulatory systems, right? Our immune system, you know, our nervous system. But if that goes off, if the immune system goes off, you can actually have very different problems appearing. And so and so by rewriting the immune system, you actually solve, you know, very different problems, in different people . That immune system, you know, not functioning, might create very different symptoms.

And similarly with Earth’s kind of, Irv has a kind of neurophysiological system and and, and it depends on being able to connect the carbon cycle and the water cycle. And it does this by slowing the water down. So if the water can slow enough to infiltrate the soil and grow vegetation, then you’ve kind of connected the water cycle and the carbon cycle, and it depends on that slowing of the water.

And when it’s connected it can actually help deal with both the, the, the droughts and the floods because it helps deal with the floods because you’re slowing the water down and you’re building the carbon material which builds the car, the soil, to slow the floods, and then, . It’s also building the carbon material to absorb the rains in drought situations.

So you actually, you know, hydrate the landscape a lot better and keep the landscape hydrated into the dry season.

[00:23:46] AKP: And can you talk a little bit more about the carbon cycle? And I mean, I, I don’t really straight up understand what that is. Is that a, is that more about leaving plant material in the ground to maintain carbon in the soil?

[00:24:03] Alpha: So when a plant grows, it’s building more and more complex carbon molecules, and then when it dies, it needs to be decomposed again. And so insects and fungi and microbes and, you know and even some organisms like, they help decompose that plant material. So simpler carbon forms and then it kind of creates you and, and then it kind of rebuilds again. 

And so and then also some of the carbon is also drawn down from the atmosphere and added to plants. And so it also helps to draw down some of the greenhouse gases. And you know, and this carbon cycle, self replicates too when, you know, when animals and when plants replicate it then builds more of these DNA machines that can build more carbon.

More complex carbon chains and and this carbon cycle, you know, depends on water to, to, to keep it going because all the organisms depend on water. And then what’s interesting is as, as the water builds up more carbon, then the carbon can actually help build the water cycle and then vice versa. So they kind of play off of each other.

[00:25:02] AKP: So you’ve mentioned the water cycle and the carbon cycle. Are there other cycles which are sort of in this, in this chain of life?

[00:25:10] Alpha: Yes. nitrogen, phosphorus, you know, a lot of these chemicals are important for life, but I think these are the two. Just to simplify the situation, I think we, it’s enough just to look at the carbon and the water cycle.

But yeah, there’s also other chemical things and so that’s why biodiversity is important because. Other animals and plants, you know, help different types of chemicals. And then also the ability to break down geological for, you know, material. Like fungi can break down the rock to create certain chemicals and help them enter into the whole life cycle.

[00:25:41] AKP: So, for example, you know, we were mentioning people who had lawns and they were, if you suggested a few sentences ago, for people, for example, to leave leaves on their lawns. So is that part of, you know, that they break down and become nutrients for the lawns, but is that also going to be contributing in some small way to the carbon cycle?

[00:26:00] Alpha: Yeah, that is the carbon cycle. Yeah. So the carbon cycle is building up complex chains of molecules and then decomposing them. And so, sometimes we forget about the decomposing part, but basically, yeah, you want the leaves to decompose back into the soil, to, you know, to enrich the soil. 

[00:26:19] AKP: Is that why in forests and things which have been largely untouched, we find such, deeply rich nutrient, dense forest, soil in.

[00:26:29] Alpha: Yeah, because there’s, there’s a whole biodiverse life and, you know, different life forms are better at cycling different nutrients. So yeah, so you get really rich, rich material in forests and then, you know, the soil gets to build up over time too in forests. And then it’s also good at cycling the water within itself.

So you know, the water can evapotranspire from the soil and then get, come back in through the leaves, through the little sma in the leaves. And so there’s all sorts of complex, the water and the carbon is getting cycled throughout the forest.

[00:27:00] AKP: Do you think that we are in a position that we have time to, to correct this sort of trajectory that the Earth is on?

I mean, you’re speaking about the carbon cycle and the water cycle, but I mean, how quickly…

[00:27:18] Alpha: I’m not so clear cause there’s so many.  One of the key things is actually to build the soil carbon sponge, like to build up our soil because the soil is such a key factor in absorbing the rain.

And you know, with a lot of these regenerative agriculture, permaculture, agri forestry techniques, you can start building up that carbon soil quite fast. And that’s key to, to the whole, to the whole thing working.

There’s a lot of complex variables because the whole small water cycle where the water goes, evapotranspires and comes back down as rain, depends on the soil, depends on forest, you know, depends on a lot of vegetation and and if we’re simultaneously destroying this vegetation, it creates, kind of feedback loops that get worse, but if we can also get the feedback loops running in the right way, we could also kind of increase this, this cycle.

I mean, there’s a kind of desertification cycle that’s quite dangerous. You can really see it in the Sahara Desert where it’s increasing by 10% each year because a lot of the forests are getting chopped down there for firewood and timber stuff. And, and so in Africa there’s, there’s a lot of deforestation devegetation and that’s impacting it.

And then it also impacts the growth of the Sahara Desert. And so the whole water cycle and the way the water vapour and the winds move, the water around gets affected. And so, you know, we need, like, say in Africa, we need large scale efforts to kind of reforest and regreen. And in other areas of the world, there’s this kind of drought, fire, flood cycle where the droughts uh, will create fires because everything becomes dry and the fires will take down vegetation and it will also sometimes put this hydrophobic layer on the soil like this waxy substance on the soil, so it can’t absorb the rainforest. 

So then when the, you know, the next month or the next year or the, or two years down the line when the rains fall, they can’t absorb into the land. So Australia had big fires two years ago, and not many people realise, but those fires are now contributing to the big floods there this year because the vegetation filled uphill and the soil is not able to absorb the water so it all rushes downhill say, you know, into Brisbane or Sydney.

And, so there’s that. And then the floods themselves then wash away a lot of the top soil and so the top soil is not available for the next cycle to absorb the rain. And so, the land isn’t hydrated and so the drought is much worse when it comes. And then because the drought is much worse, you then have bigger fires.

And so there’s this really kind of, I think Zach Weiss causes the watershed death spiral or the water death spiral is that the droughts lead to fires, lead to floods, and that keeps going. And so we’re it, we’re at a very critical point in the Earth’s history right now. We can intervene in this, in this death spiral by, you know, by regaining reforesting, turning our areas into sponge cities by improving our soil.

And, agriculture is a huge deal in this because a lot of our land uses a lot of agriculture, land uses a lot of water and the pesticides, the synthetic fertilisers, the tilling, the monocropping, all of this destroys the organic material in the soil so it can’t absorb as much water. So we need a mass transformation of industrial agricultural systems to regenerative agricultural systems and that will also make a lot more efficient use of water. We syphon and aqueduct less water from many different areas. We need to be working on multiple fronts at the same time. We need to be conserving the natural wilderness. We need to be turning our cities into sponge cities.

We need to change the farms to regenerative agriculture and we need to do a lot of replanting efforts. And I think if we do that on a large enough scale, it can get the hamster, the flywheel turning in the right direction so that we’re moving in opposite direction of the water death spiral to the regenerative uh, spiral because the Earth has a natural, if you just leave it, it’ll naturally regenerate itself.

I mean, it takes a lot longer, but it has a natural cycle where the carbon and the water cycle feed off of each other so they, so the carbon builds up the water cycle more, the water cycle builds up the carbon cycle. So we just have to help that natural process that the Earth wants to heal itself.

And then we can do it. and This will all require a lot of social, economic, political stuff going on too. Like we need a viral water movement. You know, regenerative water movement, a slow water movement to make this all happen.

[00:31:36] Marker – A – Z Water Minis Ad

[00:31:36] AKP: Next up, we are gonna bring you the A-Z of Water Stories, a slow water miniseries with the same person. Here we walk through the A-Z  and beyond of water restoration, supporting Earth regeneration. Each of these many episodes shares with FarOut listeners in audio paragraph format one of myriad ways water resource care and awareness restores and regenerates our planet. This gives you the feeling that you can make a change. Now. Go and check out this water miniseries of five minute interviews at Far Out Show.

[00:32:10] AKP: Please consider supporting the show on Patreon, where you get early access to exclusive full length interviews. Go to patreon.com/FarOutShow. Link in the show notes.

The FarOut Show. Conversations on the Edge.

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