The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet
  • The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet
  • The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet

The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet

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by Kristin Ohlson
     
 

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Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices--and, especially, modern industrial agriculture--have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world's soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist and

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Overview

Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices--and, especially, modern industrial agriculture--have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world's soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist and bestselling author Kristin Ohlson makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for "our great green hope"--a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon--and potentially reverse global warming.

As the granddaughter of farmers and the daughter of avid gardeners, Ohlson has long had an appreciation for the soil. A chance conversation with a local chef led her to the crossroads of science, farming, food, and environmentalism and the discovery of the only significant way to remove carbon dioxide from the air--an ecological approach that tends not only to plants and animals but also to the vast population of underground microorganisms that fix carbon in the soil. Ohlson introduces the visionaries--scientists, farmers, ranchers, and landscapers--who are figuring out in the lab and on the ground how to build healthy soil, which solves myriad problems: drought, erosion, air and water pollution, and food quality, as well as climate change. Her discoveries and vivid storytelling will revolutionize the way we think about our food, our landscapes, our plants, and our relationship to Earth.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-19
Ohlson (Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith with the Poor Clares, 2003, etc.) welcomes readers to the kingdom of soil and—if it is healthy—its trillions of life-sustaining microorganisms. The author has a clear storytelling style, which comes in handy when drawing this head-turning portrait of lowly dirt. But dirt—or soil, if you prefer—takes on character in Ohlson's hands, and readers will soon become invested in its well-being, for soil is a planetary balancer, and from its goodness comes the food we eat. The author examines soil's role in countering our greenhouse-gas problem, noting how healthy soil sequesters carbon. Indeed, by the end of the story, it doesn't seem far-fetched when a group of scientists tell her that "if only 11 percent of the world's cropland—land that is typically not in use—improved its community of soil microorganisms as [the scientists] did in their test plots, the amount of carbon sequestered in the soil would offset all our current emissions of carbon dioxide." But what is particularly captivating is the process whereby healthy soil goes about its work; when one understands the process, many puzzle pieces fall into place and readers can judge for themselves the various claims. The interplay between plants and soil—plants "leak" carbon and other nutrients into the soil and are fed by teams of creatures that eat and excrete minerals near the plants' roots—is complex yet elegant and discernable. Along the way, the author touches on other subjects—genetically engineered crops, farming activities around the world, the use of leftover skim milk as a fertilizer, and the interdependence of urban planning and soil health—to provide background and local color. Ohlson ably delineates this promising situation: Vital soil may well help address climate change, but it absolutely will provide for "more productive farms, cleaner waterways, and overall healthier landscapes."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781609615543
Publisher:
Rodale Press, Inc.
Publication date:
03/18/2014
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
151,149
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

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