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‘The Soil Will Save Us’: A Manifesto for Restoring Our Relationship with the Land

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

What if we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and grow enough food to feed our ballooning population using resources we already have? Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us, thinks we can do just that. And like a growing number of scientists, farmers, and good food advocates, she believes that in order to fix the problems in the sky, we need to put our eyes and ears to the ground.

The Soil Will Save Us is part soil science primer, part history lesson on environmental degradation and the efforts to fight it, and part manifesto on restoring our relationship with the land. The reader follows Ohlson as she travels the globe-from her childhood home near Cleveland, Ohio to Perth, Australia-to learn about how people can revive soils damaged by decades of drought, erosion, and poor land management.

Ohlson explains that plants naturally capture carbon from the air, in the form of carbon dioxide, and turn it into food for everyone from soil bacteria to human beings-or what ecologist Christine Jones dubs "the very first carbon-trading scheme." This symbiotic process relies on the intricate relationships between light and dark, water and air, and the wide array of organisms that live in the soil. Ohlson likens the bustling world of soil microorganisms to Whoville, Dr. Seuss' imagined city floating in a speck of dust, writing: "The Whoville in that teaspoon of soil is more like Mexico City. Imagine how many microorganisms are in a cup of healthy soil. More than all the humans who have ever lived."       


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