A Soilful Solution to Climate Change

In the LA Times, Dean Kuipers wrote a review of the book, The Soil Will Save Us. Below are some excerpts from the review:

In her sometimes breathless but important new book, "The Soil Will Save Us," Ohlson lays out a thesis that farmers and climate researchers have been talking about for decades: that a change in farming and forestry techniques could sequester enough carbon in the ground to not only mitigate but reverse global warming.

Ohlson readily acknowledges that efforts to curtail fossil-fuel use are top priority, but then she adds: "However, none of these will actually reduce the legacy load of CO2 already in the atmosphere. There are schemes afloat for doing that, but they're expensive. ... Not as sexy to policy makers, but free of cost, is Mother Nature's low-tech approach: photosynthesis and the buildup of carbon in the soil that naturally follows.

Ohlson posits her argument as something that has to happen even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to zero.

If treated right, plants and soil may be able to mitigate all of the world's greenhouse gas emissions — the rising tide from India and China, all of it.

Gabe Brown in North Dakota has used cover crops, composting and mob grazing to create topsoil 4 feet deep and so productive that he has been able to reduce the amount of acreage he plants and still make a profit — the exact reverse of agribusiness' credo for the last 70 years, which has been "get big or get out."

In the final pages of the book, she highlights some just-released work from two scientists in New Mexico, whose new compost enables massive carbon sequestration and who believe their method could "capture enough CO2 to offset all anthropogenic CO2 emissions on less than 11% of world cropland."

Read the whole review here: An Optimistic Solution to Climate Change in "Soil Will Save Us."

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