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In Living Soil Lies the Solution to Climate Change


In Living Soil Lies the Solution to Climate Change

Vandana Shiva

At this fragile moment of human evolution—in the immediate wake of yesterday's celebration of Mother Earth Day—we have a moment to reflect on the state of the Earth and the human condition, as well as an opportunity to renew our pact as members of the Earth family — Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam.

Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, a Sanskrit phrase, is a worldview from which flow paradigms, policies, practices, as well as vision and values.


Such a brilliant woman. I look to Vandana Shiva as an Einstein or one who's come to a marriage of minds: that is, her left-brain scientific savvy merges harmoniously with her spiritual right brain understanding of the fundamental sacredness of all living things, soil included.

I nominate Vandana Shiva for The Nobel Peace Prize.

Perhaps the World Social Forum should set up its own nominees for a parallel prize?

Oops... I just noticed this:

"She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize."



what would fill our mouths?
How many tongues

would break the still crumbs
of the awkward settling

of the music of soil?
Even now, here, in the cold north

the mottled adder's tongue
comes up

through the old leaves
as the thin April snow

disappears in the stunning
sun. Everything

is earth
and something like hands still pushes

mounds of what has returned
away from seed

and root
and the great

begins again.

I have little to worship
these days

replete with blood
and the maiming

of austerity
but wild leeks come up regardless

in spits of brightness
and mushrooms

wholly of the soil
are created from shit

and leafmusk
and the stories of the song

of bees.
I will lie down

in the dirt,
the sand will wash away,

whole continents will slide
into the other elements

and we will cling
to our little clumps of smut

and root wondering what have we done?
Who are the heroes here?

What hymns can they hum?
The dirt is a god

we have yet to pronounce
as deep as we will bury ourselves.

Whole mountains erupt,
the wind carries our farms;

and water?
What is the earth

without it?
I do not believe in prayer

but if you could show me one song
of the good garden

the measures where a farmer
calls out

the names of seed
I would still be swallowed whole

until the red bird found my grave.


It is an honor to respond to this article from global leader Vandana Shiva. Agroecologies must replace industrial agriculture and GMOs, for the reasons outlined here. I do have a question regarding this section: "On the other hand, organic farming reduces emissions and also makes agriculture more resilient to climate change. Navdanya’s research has shown that organic farming has increased carbon absorption by 55 per cent. International studies show that with two tonne per hectare of soil organic carbon, we can remove 10 gigatonne of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which can reduce atmospheric pollution to 350 parts per million."
I assume the removal rate is 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Reduction of the present level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (400 ppm) to 350 ppm corresponds to 370 gigatonnes, but roughly 36 gigatonnes are emitted now from burning fossil fuels and land use. So carbon emissions must be radically reduced and soon, coupled with this approach to have any chance of preventing catastrophic climate change.


36 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year is close to the present anthropogenic flux to the atmosphere.


I never tire of reading Ms Shiva. In her words of wisdom I always find a profound respect for all of nature and great hope.


Mountain minerals erode into the seas. Duh!

On their way to the seas; these minerals make dirt. Duh!

Organisms in the dirt convert these minerals into living soil. Duh!

Plant health depends on these soil minerals. Duh!

Animal health depends on plant health. Duh!

All nutrients are composed of natural minerals. Duh!

Virtually all of the minerals that plants consume have been solubilized from the soil. Duh!

Plant and animal health depends on these minerals remaining in (or being returned to) a given area for as long as possible. Duh!

To maintain optimum soil, plant and animal health, they must remain in a given area long enough to be replaced by more minerals eroding from the mountains. Duh!

Or we must artificially replace them in each area. Duh!

Minerals that are solubilized move toward the seas more quickly than these same minerals in an insoluble state. Duh!

Mountain rocks erode quite slowly. This is why we have phrases like: "steady as a rock". Duh!

People "harvest" the plant and animal products that depend on these minerals. Duh!

Then people transport these products away from where they were grown. Duh!

This depletes the essential mineral nutrients, from the areas where these products were grown. Duh!

The taste of food is very dependent on the nutrients in that food. Duh!

Most food does not taste nearly as good as it did forty years ago. Duh!

Let me repeat what I said earlier; all soluble minerals get transported, in food, away from the areas where they are essential to the health of the soil, plants and animal that depend on the solubilized minerals in these areas. Duh!

Ultimately, they get flushed, with our sewage, into the seas or transported with toxic "waste" to a landfill. Duh!

Science continues to make new discoveries. Duh!

At some point, science will discover new essential mineral nutrients. Duh!

Major new scientific discoveries often take decades to become accepted by mainstream science. Duh!

Some examples:

"640K ought to be enough for anybody"
Bill Gates 1981

"I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers"
Thomas Watson Chairman IBM 1943

"Everything that can be invented, has been invented"
Charles H. Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office 1899

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"
Harry M Warner, Warner Brothers Pictures, 1927

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom"
Robert Miliken, Nobel Prize Physics, 1923

"Heavier than air flying machines are impossible"
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1895

Max Planck wrote about this:
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Paraphrased variants:
Truth never triumphs — its opponents just die out.
Science advances one funeral at a time.