Annotations for Grass, Soil, Hope : A Journey through Carbon Country

Baker & Taylor
Explores the impact an increase in the carbon content in soil would have on greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, and offers ways to accomplish this.

Book News
A practical understanding of the natural carbon cycle is essential to removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere: this book by Courtney White asserts, explains, and elaborates upon this premise. The author writes for a general audience, avoiding unnecessary technicalities. At the start, White introduces the idea that livestock--cattle and sheep in particular--is the essential and often missing link in our relationship with the carbon cycle. In arguing for cows, he lays the foundation for related permacultural intelligence. White profiles successful pioneers in the areas of biodiesel fuel, no-till agriculture, online networks Farm Hack and Public Lab, soil science, and cover crops. He spends time with a rancher and his mixed population of cows and sheep, called a "flerd." He believes in the importance of his insights, and runs an organization called the Quivira Coalition dedicated to spreading them and building economic and ecological resilience far and wide. Annotation ©2014 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Chelsea Green Publishing

This book tackles an increasingly crucial question: What can we do about the seemingly intractable challenges confronting all of humanity today, including climate change, global hunger, water scarcity, environmental stress, and economic instability?

The quick answers are: Build topsoil. Fix creeks. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals.

Scientists maintain that a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet's soils could offset100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. But how could this be accomplished? What would it cost? Is it even possible?

Yes, says author Courtney White, it is not only possible, but essential for the long-term health and sustainability of our environment and our economy.

Right now, the only possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere is through plant photosynthesis and related land-based carbon sequestration activities. These include a range of already existing, low-tech, and proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices, conserving natural habitat, restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food.

In Grass, Soil, Hope, the author shows how all these practical strategies can be bundled together into an economic and ecological whole, with the aim of reducing atmospheric CO2while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. Soil is a huge natural sink for carbon dioxide. If we can draw increasing amounts carbon out of the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil then we can significantly address all the multiple challenges that now appear so intractable.