There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again. —Rumi
This article is excellent in many ways but i don’t like the words “climate solution” in the headline. It gives the impression that improving our soil practices can “solve” climate disaster.
The article itself is more complex and nuanced than this, but it takes careful reading and context.
Also i don’t like the use in the article of the concept of “offsetting” emissions. Nothing “offsets” emissions, and while we certainly must transform agriculture, and put carbon back into the soil, we must also stop fossil fuels, slash energy use, and reduce overall economic production.
And it is extremely important to overtly recognize the powerful economic and political interests who work 24/7 to undermine these necessary changes. We need to dis-empower capital, stop its corruption of politics, and end its incessant propaganda poisoning public understanding of what we face and what must be done. This goes entirely unmentioned in this otherwise fairly holistic article.
Good Post and I’ve read about this for at least two years or more and it needs to repeat and repeated and as you say it is not only soil but all the abuses to our environment needs to be changed/reduced.
Thanks Julie. i think mentioning the need to face down powerful interests, is the hardest thing for many writers to do. Because then the obvious question is, how? And it is very daunting. So it is easier or safer to just write about the changes needed, or about what “we” need to do, without assessing, discussing, or even acknowledging the wealth divisions and power politics that are driving the problem.
It would be interesting if the author Michaela Haas would respond to this point. She covers a lot of important ground (pun acknowledged) including eating and spending practices: “Outcomes will depend not only on how many farmers and states get on board, but on consumption patterns: how people eat, drink, and shop.” It just seems like omitting the power of industry to limit consumer options, influence consumer habits, and more importantly exercise political power, is a debilitating omission. It seems plain that “outcomes will depend” significantly upon dis-empowering these interests.
Yes, the soil can help. It is not the “solution.” I’ve been no-tilling for a long time and using chemical pesticides. Little to nearly no tillage is the important thing when trying to sequester carbon in the soil. My farm soil is alive with earthworms. Whenever I stop to check my seed depth my digging tool always mangles earthworms. Interestingly, my main vegetable garden, which does not get pesticides, has basically no earthworms. Sometimes my brain works very slowly, and just today I got to wondering if this garden soil may have been contaminated sometime in the past with motor oil or assorted farm chemical left overs. It did grow food just fine. However, I will move my garden spot this spring to somewhere with earthworms. Perhaps this is something to think about for “farmers” in cities who grow on vacant lots.
I bought my home 20 years ago and it was flat green grass. I pretty immediately started pulling up the grass and the soil was pretty much dead and started planting indigenous to Western Oregon. Several years later started planting fruits and vegetables and my son in some areas dug down 18 inches and we treat soil/clay with limestone and compost purchased. Now composting my own waste and leaving plants and roots over the winter instead of planting cover crops. I have tons of microorganism and earth worms this spring. I had broccoli and cauliflower over the winter along with some lettuce, arugula, parsley, and some snap peas.
I will not remove roots until ready to do spring planting outdoors which I plan to do on Friday. Snap peas and brocolli caulifower and kale in very good soil.
Highly recommended: “The Gardener’s Guide to Better Soil” by Gene Logsdon, still available in print. It probably makes even more sense today than it did when Mrs. Guild and I first read it 30 years ago. He says at one point that the epitaph he would be most proud of would read, “He left his topsoil with 5% organic content.”
i have “Holy Shit” by Logsdon. Excellent manual on managing manure of all kinds, including human.
Yeah, we compost some of our garden soil (we garden quite a bit). We are generally busy enough that it’s hard to find time to do everything the way we would like, such as mixing and turning compost. We’ve still got over a foot of snow on the ground (and plenty of ice), so no gardening for a while. We still have a few of our sweet Alisa Craig onions left (they’re fabulous) and a few potatoes. A friend talked us into planting some garlic last fall. I’m curious.
My farm has been in the family for 140 years. Long ago there were a lot of animals, but our mineral soil is nearly all less than 2% organic matter. I hope I’ve built it up a tiny bit.
Good for you. No such efforts are wasted.
I’m primarily focused on people who seem to value inoffensiveness above all other marks of civility - as if Palestinian rights could be discussed without mentioning that terrible “Z” word!
I think the reason such timidity gets my goat is because I recognize myself - or perhaps the person I used to be before I fully recognized solidarity with survivors of abuse. Timidity can be a coping mechanism which keeps pegging along for years, but it’s not the answer, because it perpetuates the abuse.
I have gotten bull shit, cow shit, horseshit, chicken shit, and rabbit shit over the years to put in my soil. Holy Shit by Logsdon? I will have to look that up.
So sorry you can’t begin to garden. You should have garlic in june/july. I did not plant any or onions lasts fall. Like you said, just so much to do and my compost was not turned during the winter so do not have new soil to layer on top of my present soil. Just to the best we can. I was so surprised as I planted cauliflower last spring and in December I picked my first one and just several weeks ago picked the next one. Go figure.
I’m all in favor of the improved soil practices but this is pie-in-the-sky:
"…it might give us a chance at a future that keeps a majority of Earth’s ecosystems intact.”
Alas, that ship sailed long ago.
You are so right! This kind of thing frustrates the heck out of me because it’s so ubiquitous. I might call it the optimistic white lie. In most cases, both writer and reader know it’s a game which set the truth aside some time back.
Goddam it, this is getting hard. My idea of a practical approach is to start with the truth, whole and uninsipified, to at least pay each other the respect of telling each other the truth. Some spinners-fibbers-liars might seem to have their heart in right place aspirationally, but it’s hard to work out how our lies could be more constructive than lies from the other side.
Our world is filled with lies and destruction so it is too easy to become somnolent robotics do nothings. So to occasionally escape to a little bubble of satisfaction that I can do something positive in a little patch of dirt/soil is at least therapeutic.
If you are going to shit on my parade at least compost it.
How sleep-walking results from rigor about truth is beyond me. To the contrary, my reading of SkepticTank is that it’s possible to compost while fully awake. With my own verbal compost, I lovingly apply consciousness.
Emphatically not to escape, by the way. The purpose of composting is to arrive - here and now where real beauty resides. Why escape from that? There’s a really important point here: you have an iron-clad right to enjoy every day, every moment of your life. If your enjoyment is limited to “little bubbles” then the hegemons of dreariness have already triumphed.