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Soil as Our Salvation


Soil as Our Salvation

Hannah Apricot Eckberg

What if the answer to stopping climate change was lying right under our feet? What if one of the most revolutionary acts you could do was to plant a garden? Well, research is starting to show this might just be true.


Pat Buchanan says that by prohibiting Easter services but
celebrating Earth Day, public schools are teaching our
children to worship dirt instead of God or Jesus.

Let us worship
Let us revel
in the richness of soil.
Let us meditate
on our own composition,
from dirt we come,
to dirt we return.
Let us roll
in rich loam.
Let the compost heap
be our holy altar.
The world is a dirt ball
floating in cosmic dust.
The moon is dirt.
The universe is dirt
and all therein
the dance of dirt.
Dirt is life
and life dirt dependent.
Salt of the earth are we
and the mountains
our dirt cathedrals.
Dirt Dirt Dirt Dirt
Filth dung mud crud dust

Soil laden and excreting
with dirt under our nails
and feet of clay
we acknowledge our oneness
with Dirt.
Holy Holy Holy Humus
Basic art thou
to all that is
and in your embrace
is final peace found.
Who is like unto thee, Dirt
among the mighty
providing sustenance and life?
Blessed be
the Dirt under our feet!
Blessed be
the Dirt under our nails!
Blessed be
the Dirt that moves
in intimate complexity!
Blessed be
the components of Dirt!
We of the Dirt extol thee.
Blessed be Dirt
for ever and ever,

-- Al Markowitz


"Through permaculture techniques, such as no-till farming, composting, planned grazing, and cover crops, farmers can see higher yields with less chemical inputs while increasing their soil’s fertility and capturing more carbon in it. Carbon Farming it is called. These and other techniques can also help the ground retain water more efficiently. We can reduce the levels of carbon in the atmosphere while producing healthier foods, combat the drought, aid farmers, and reverse climate change!"

Having gardened organically for some 40+ years, I have seen the proof in the techniques that are spoken of. Minimal disturbance of the soil, cover cropping, composting, mulching, no pesticides can and will heal the soil and by extension, those who feed on the crops grown there and the atmosphere above. Not a new way of doing business, pre industrial revolution but it works.

I also support Organic Consumers in their work as well as The Cornucopia Institute http://www.cornucopia.org/ , Pesticide Action Network http://www.panna.org/ and the Xerces Society http://www.xerces.org/ , all working toward healthy soil and habitat.

Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.
— Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet


Your post makes me wonder how many tons of chemicals are put on our soil every year and how much petroleum is necessary to produce all those chemicals.


I'm sure it's an obscene amount.

And it doesn't have to be that way!


The number of grazing animals needs to be significantly reduced if the soil is to recover. That means there should be a sharp reduction in meat consumption.


This is absolutely not true. The reason the fastest growing landscape in the world is desert is because we have removed the grazing animals. Grass requires herbivores and has evolved with herbivores and they therefore have a symbiotic relationship. Its the management of domesticated herbivores we need change to mimic naturally grazing animals. The soil is our savior concept is not new. Look at the amazing work Allen Savory has been doing and farmers like Joel Salitin. Thins will not change because the changes necessary do not provide obscene profits for the oil and chemical industry. The changes need to come from the ground up. Start gardening!!!!


Before I moved to the house I am in (temporary housing), and was stronger, I used to get out and dig - was a great workout! The soil in the area where I live is aromatic and pleasantly sweet! I planted flowers in the front yard and edibles in the back. The one good thing I can say about having moved to this area (not my choice of a place) is that it is lush and warm most of the year. So many things can grow, as this time of year brings forth the bounty that nature has to offer. Gardening (taught to me by my father) has helped make my life more worthwhile, and find the positive in an otherwise difficult situation.
On my way from the grocery store, I paused to pick a few wild grapes that were growing in the back, to give me a little juice and fortitude for the walk back to my house. I found myself thinking "mother nature is such a merciful provider to us, that we really ought to take better care of her and pay attention to what we are doing."
I know as an individual I cannot change the world, but I do like to think we can make it a better place in our own back yards and community, one garden at a time.


Not true? If you are arguing that the meat industry is good for the earth, you need to educate yourself. The only way to destroy a forest is to let livestock graze on the deforested land. They tamp down the soil and prevent the forest from regenerating. Keeping animals for food is stupid. 90% of the food they eat is wasted - it is wasteful to run food through animals.


I feel I have educated myself, I hold a masters degree in ecology and have been working in the field of landscape regeneration for over 20 years. I am obviously not arguing that the meat industry has a positive impact on anything including the food in produces. The article is not talking about how we can sequester carbon in the all ready existing forests its talking about how we can change our modern agricultural practices to stop emitting carbon and sequester it instead. This is where carbon farming comes in and that includes the proper management of livestock. There is nothing else that will correct the desertification problem other than re-stocking large herbivore heads back onto the landscape to replace the relationship between beast and plants. Soil health relies on symbiotic relationships between animals and plants. The animal is not the problem its us and how we manage these animals that is causing the depredation.


The meat industry is monstrous but that has nothing to do with the natural and productive role of grazing animals. The meat industry keeps animals from grazing and feeds them corn. Our continents were covered with grazing animals for millenia. They help spread grasses and build soil. It isn't the grazers that poison the planet -- it's the humans.


That was the point I tried to make. With 10 billion animals slaughtered in the U.S. every year, there are far too many grazing animals. I have never argued that grazing animals should be eliminated from the earth. I merely pointed out that we have a ridiculous demand for meat in this country that has resulted in too many grazing animals.


I did not argue that animals poison anything and of course I know that grazing animals are a part of the ecology. My suggestion is that we leave them alone and stop breeding them for food. Their numbers will then be balanced by nature and no human management will be required. The current bloated numbers of grazing animals is not good for the ecological health of the planet.


I think most of us are saying the same thing but there are some important factors to consider. The ecological situation is now so desperate and many systems are now in a state of collapse or in a mode of positive feedback that even if we removed every human being from the planet tomorrow it would still continue on this path. We are, or are very close to, passing the tipping point where biological systems are so disturbed they will continue to tumble into complete degeneration. My point is that humans and only humans at this stage can turn this problem around by implementing certain biological strategies . One of those strategies is carbon farming which would entail large herds of herbivores being managed to replace the lost species interaction. We could just leave everything to sort itself out like you suggest but most of the evidence is clear that doing so would lead us to the same conclusion. Obviously nature would recuperate but It would take considerable amount of time and would probably not include us!


Soil Biology is our only way to rapidly and massively draw down CO2 from the air to offset our ongoing and past carbon emissions, It Could safely and naturally restore the hydrological cycles by increasing biogenic aerosols and cloud albedo that could readily cool the planet by the 3 watts/m2 needed to offset the now locked in greenhouse warming effects and avoid the Storms of Our Grandchildren.

After all....how could anyone not feel good about soils?;

Changes in Heart Rate Variability and Effects on POMS by Whether or Not Soil Observation Was Performed

Soil Cheers & Palpitations,
(some days however,... I must admit,... that all soil does for me is make my poms sweat)


Cows used as a proxy for the extinct Megafauna can save the climate. Holistic Grazing can build 3.5 Tons of Soil Carbon per Acre per year;

Machmuller 2015,
Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter

Retallack 2013,
Global Cooling by Grassland Soils of the Geological Past and Near Future


Wrong? Are you saying that the status quo is OK? The raising and slaughtering of 10 billion animals per year in the US alone is certainly not good for the environment. Yet, you scream WRONG!! Are you seriously arguing that all of those animals are somehow good for the soil? I understand that healthy soil can be used to capture CO2. I cannot understand how having billions of grazing animals improves the soil. I am sure that in the past, the herds were not that ridiculously large. What am I missing?


Actually Cows can save the climate, if managed correctly.
A combination of Best Management Practices, (BMPs), for Agriculture, Grazing & Forestry with bioenergy systems which build soil carbon can deliver the giga-tons of carbon necessary into the soil sink bank.

Global Cooling by Grassland Soils of the Geological Past and Near Future

Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter