One way to fight global warming might turn out to be right under our noses or more exactly, under our feet.
That would be dirt.
We know that corn and wheat and spinach and strawberries, all plants pull carbon dioxide (the greenhouse gas) out of the air. That’s what they breathe in. Then that carbon dioxide is combined with water and converted to carbohydrates (sugars) oxygen, which is a good thing.
But getting that ground ready for the next year’s crop of corn, wheat, spinach, strawberries, can prematurely release a lot of carbon dioxide from decaying plants into the air. Not as good.
Now farmers are experimenting with doing less to their dirt, in order to do more.
Less in this case means less plowing and tilling and digging. Because when the soil is less disturbed, more of that “breathed-in” carbon stays in the decaying plants. That’s the “more” part. Also more because that soil is less disturbed, it is richer, which means more food grows in those fields.
It’s called “regenerative farming” and it’s not complicated. It starts with drilling holes and planting seeds in those holes, instead of turning over the whole field. Planting cover crops to replenish the soil in between food crops.
But done large-scale, those fields could soak up six, nine, maybe up to thirty-seven BILLION metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Plus, we’d be growing more food, to feed our growing population.
We know that farming in the future will sometimes look a lot different: vertical farms growing upward inside warehouses, farms that grow plants without soil, farms that grow plants on sheets of plastic, and farms where drones and robots do a lot of the chores.
And all of that will help us produce more food, for more people, and keep our carbon footprint down.
But the point of today’s “less is more” tale is that there isn’t going to be just one approach to tackle global warming. Some solutions will be the highest high tech, and some will be just about as simple as a shovel and some soil.
And maybe it turns out that spinach isn’t just good for YOU, it’s good for the whole planet!