Book Review: Grass, Soil, Hope

By Wayne Groot

From the Catalyst, Summer 2018

Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country

By Courtney White

Chelsea Green Publishing, 2014

Reviewed by Wayne Groot

Whenever we read about climate change, we are reminded of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide we are pumping into the air through the burning of fossil fuels. Another huge emitter of CO2 has also been the cultivation of soils in our agrarian societies. Soils contain vast amounts of carbon which when allowed to decompose turns into CO2 and is released into the atmosphere.

Courtney White in his book Grass, Soil, Hope does a wonderful job explaining what carbon is, and how it is a necessary building block in anything on this planet that is alive. He explains how power from the sun through photosynthesis can bring huge amounts of carbon back into the soil and thus lower CO2 levels in the atmosphere.  This book is full of fascinating stories of people across the world who are working on regenerative agriculture. They are not just sustaining what we have, but are bringing soils back to health by increasing organic matter where it has been depleted due to excessive grazing, over cultivation, or other abuses of the natural environment.

In a world where many feel overwhelmed with our unsustainable direction in regards to CO2 levels, this book offers some real hope in regards to some concrete ways we can adapt our agrarian practices and help sequester carbon back into the ground.

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