“They say farmers need a safety net. I think the soil should be our safety net. If you add up the dollar figure for improved health, carbon sequestration, lower fossil fuel bills, and resistance to weather extremes, it’s a lot.”
- Judith D. Schwartz
Cows Save The Planet, is provoking title indicating this book is all about cows. It isn't. The premise of this book is really about turning our ideas about livestock and climate change on its head; pointing to a more holistic perspective that puts the soil and its rich microbial life at the heart of our dynamic global ecosystem.
Conventional thinking regarding climate change tells us that increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are one critical driver behind our changing weather patterns. As the concentration of greenhouse gases (e.g. Carbon Dioxide)increases, the planet gets warmer and becomes increasingly inhospitable to humans and animals. Consequently, anything that contributes to release of these greenhouses gases should be limited or erased.
The abundance of livestock on Earth is clearly a problem. Cows are usually pointed out as the major culprit. In many cases, it is fair to say that cows are a big part of the problem connected with increased greenhouse gases as they do release methane gas through various bodily functions. Actually, some research shows that one cow can produce between 250-500 liters of methane per year. With the amount of cows globally, you can begin to imagine this is a big problem. Additionally, cows are generally not roaming the country side by themselves. Most cows are confined into feeding lots where they are producing methane together in a big clump.
Cows aside, this book is all about dirt. It explains how soil is everything and that soil health is a key of our environmental ecosystems, from which their delicate balance evolves. Good soil is literally alive, teeming with organisms. We have been mistreating soils on an industrial level for decades. The damage done brings an ever-growing reliance on artificial fertilizers made from fossil fuels, further depleting the soil quality. The soil is under siege. Topsoil is being depleted faster than it can be replenished as we lose 24 billion tons every year; 70% of our total amount of topsoil is already lost.
Judith D. Schwartz points out the urgent need to think differently about how we farm. She gives examples of how livestock, such as cows, are crucial in assisting to regenerate the soil to the healthy state needed for storing carbon dioxide and farming nutrition rich food. It is important that we integrate different farming methods and grow a variety of crops rather than monoculture farming which mainly grows corn and soy beans.
Why We Love It:
Cows Save The Planet really spoke to us because it addresses one of the big climate change contributors - farming. While this book is pointing problems, the focus is on possible solutions. Judith D. Schwartz shows us that regenerative farming is possible by featuring the knowledge of farmers who have been experimenting and are doing regenerating farming.
At One World Center, we understand the importance of healthy soil. We promotes organic and holistic ways of growing food. We are deeply concerned with how climate change is distorting our ways of life in Earth. It is encouraging to learn about farmers who are passionate about finding solutions for sustainable, big scale farming. We appreciate their commitment to continue finding solutions to work with nature and reduce chemicals used in big scale farming to zero.