A moving tribute to the physical and spiritual properties of nature's richestelement by one of the world's leading soil conservationists.
Dirt, soil, call it what you want—it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilizations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations explores the compelling idea that we are—and have long been—using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil—as society after society has risen, prospered, and plowed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R. Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.
Naomi W. Zaslow arrived in Philadelphia from Canada as a toddler in the depths of the Depression. Her acting talents led to professional performances on stage and radio, and school life led to her love of writing. Hitler and World War II brought the sad loss of her brother. A loving marriage, the innocence and simplicity of life in the 40's; 3 sons and a daughter and attaining the American Dream in the 50's; the changes in the 60's; work as a newspaper reporter and columnist and public relations; the honors and success of her cable soap opera "General High School", the loss of loving parents are movingly conveyed. The vicissitudes of business life, health problems, and family issues resolved and unresolved are candidly explored. The flourishing family that grows and succeeds are added wonders reflecting a joy and an appreciation of life that are contagious.
In Cows Save the Planet, journalist Judith D. Schwartz looks at soil as a crucible for our many overlapping environmental, economic, and social crises. Schwartz reveals that for many of these problems—climate change, desertification, biodiversity loss, droughts, floods, wildfires, rural poverty, malnutrition, and obesity—there are positive, alternative scenarios to the degradation and devastation we face. In each case, our ability to turn these crises into opportunities depends on how we treat the soil. Drawing on the work of thinkers and doers, renegade scientists and institutional whistleblowers from around the world, Schwartz challenges much of the conventional thinking about global warming and other problems. For example, land can suffer from undergrazing as well as overgrazing, since certain landscapes, such as grasslands, require the disturbance from livestock to thrive. Regarding climate, when we focus on carbon dioxide, we neglect the central role of water in soil—"green water"—in temperature regulation. And much of the carbon dioxide that burdens the atmosphere is not the result of fuel emissions, but from agriculture; returning carbon to the soil not only reduces carbon dioxide levels but also enhances soil fertility. Cows Save the Planet is at once a primer on soil's pivotal role in our ecology and economy, a call to action, and an antidote to the despair that environmental news so often leaves us with.
Our world is built on an invisible one we are barely beginning to understand. In The Hidden Half of Nature, geologist David R. Montgomery and biologist Anne Biklé argue that Earth's smallest creatures—microbes—could revolutionize how we grow food, what we eat, and how we practice medicine.The Hidden Half of Nature shares a geologist's and a biologist's efforts to turn their barren Seattle lot into a flourishing garden and Biklé's own struggle with cancer. Taking readers deep into the science and history of agriculture and immunology, Montgomery and Biklé show that beneficial microbes can provide powerful solutions to the problems plaguing modern agriculture, such as excess chemicals and infertile crops, as well as our own bodies, weakened by antibiotics and high-fat, low-fiber diets. A spellbinding story, The Hidden Half of Nature reveals how we can restore fertility to the land and defeat chronic diseases.
Combining his scientific work as an ecologist with a life-long study of the Bible, Daniel Hillel offers fresh perspectives on biblical views of the environment and the origin of ethical monotheism.
During his years as a scientist working for the British government in India, Sir Albert Howard conceived of and refined the principles of organic agriculture. Howard’s The Soil and Health became a seminal and inspirational text in the organic movement soon after its publication in 1945. The Soil and Health argues that industrial agriculture, emergent in Howard’s era and dominant today, disrupts the delicate balance of nature and irrevocably robs the soil of its fertility. Howard’s classic treatise links the burgeoning health crises facing crops, livestock, and humanity to this radical degradation of the Earth’s soil. His message—that we must respect and restore the health of the soil for the benefit of future generations—still resonates among those who are concerned about the effects of chemically enhanced agriculture.
A major history of early Americans' ideas about conservation Fifty years after the American Revolution, the yeoman farmers who made up a large part of the new country's voters faced a crisis. The very soil of American farms seemed to be failing, and agricultural prosperity, upon which the Republic was founded, was threatened. Steven Stoll's passionate and brilliantly argued book explores the tempestuous debates that erupted between "improvers," who believed in practices that sustained and bettered the soil of existing farms, and "emigrants," who thought it was wiser and more "American" to move westward as the soil gave out. Stoll examines the dozens of journals, from New York to Virginia, that gave voice to the improvers' cause. He also focuses especially on two groups of farmers, in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. He analyzes the similarities and differences in their farming habits in order to illustrate larger regional concerns about the "new husbandry" in free and slave states. Farming has always been the human activity that most disrupts nature, for good or ill. The decisions these early Americans made about how to farm not only expressed their political and social faith, but also influenced American attitudes about the environment for decades to come. Larding the Lean Earth is a signal work of environmental history and an original contribution to the study of antebellum America.
Aflatoxin contamination represents a serious threat to a healthy food supply. Resulting from mold on corn, peanuts, and other grains and grain products, aflatoxins are extremely toxic. Understanding the nature of fungi infection and the factors that favor aflatoxin formation is important to grain producers, dealers, and other professionals who control grain from the field to the site of consumption to prevent serious loss of large quantities of grain or grain products. Producers of poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs, and even pet food need to be aware of the threat of aflatoxin. Participants in the grain industry who grow, store, or process corn and other grains subject to potential infection by aflatoxin should be aware of the risks of fungal infection and aflatoxin contamination, and proper management strategies. The authors focus on the binding of aflatoxin in animal feeds by employing calcium smectite. Readers will be especially glad to know that aflatoxin can often be controlled with a natural mineral material to bind aflatoxin in animal feeds at a modest cost.--Back cover.
For much of history, soil has played a major, and often central, role in the lives of humans. Entire societies have risen, and collapsed, through the management or mismanagement of soil; farmers and gardeners worldwide nurture their soil to provide their plants with water, nutrients, and protection from pests and diseases; major battles have been aborted or stalled by the condition of soil; murder trials have been solved with evidence from the soil; and, for most of us, our ultimate fate is the soil. In this book Richard Bardgett discusses soil and the many, and sometimes surprising, ways that humanity has depended on it throughout history, and still does today. Analysing the role soil plays in our own lives, despite increasing urbanization, and in the biogeochemical cycles that allow the planet to function effectively, Bardgett considers how superior soil management could combat global issues such as climate change, food shortages, and the extinction of species. Looking to the future, Bardgett argues that it is vital for the future of humanity for governments worldwide to halt soil degradation, and to put in place policies for the future sustainable management of soils.
Soil in the Environment is key for every course in soil science, earth science, and environmental disciplines. This textbook engages students to critically look at soil as the central link in the function and creation of the terrestrial environment. For the first time, Dr. Hillel brilliantly discusses soils as a natural body that is engaged in dynamic interaction with the atmosphere above and the strata below that influences the planet's climate and hydrological cycle, and serves as the primary habitat for a versatile community of living organisms. The book offers a larger perspective of soil’s impact on the environment by organizing chapters among three main processes: Physical, Chemical, and Biology. It is organized in a student-friendly format with examples, discussion boxes, and key definitions in every chapter. The book provides students of geology, physical science, and environmental studies with fundamental information and tools for meeting the natural resource challenges of the 21st century, while providing students of soil science and ecology with the understanding of physical and biological interactions necessary for sustainability. First textbook to unite soil science and the environment beyond what is traditionally taught Incorporates current knowledge of such hot topics as climate change, pollution control, human expropriation of natural resources, and the prospects for harmonious and sustainable development Organized in a student-friendly format with examples, discussion boxes, and key definitions in every chapter Full color throughout
A call to agricultural revolution from a locavore and author who is one of “the most prominent and effective advocates of American environmental thought” (Prairie Fire Newspaper). For years, Wes Jackson has made it his mission to raise Americans’ awareness about where their food comes from. Focusing on locally grown and produced food, the locavore movement—joined by food experts and enthusiasts including Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and Barbara Kingsolver—strives to return agriculture to a more community-based endeavor. This would not only improve the quality of the meals we eat, but protect the land from agricultural processes we’ve grown too dependent on. In this volume, ranging in topic from the history of the earth to the use of modern chemicals and pesticides to the effects of global warming, Jackson outlines a plan that highlights natural ecosystems in the future of farming and food production. An eloquent manifesto for our age, Jackson’s analysis explores the way our agricultural methods have affected everything from the soil to the health of the US population to the danger of monoculture grains. Join the author in a look at how we can change not only the food we eat, but the future of our land.
Many thinkers believe that the next transformational change in human organization will be the onset of human-level artificial intelligence (the 'singularity'), and that the most likely method of achieving this will come through brain emulations or "ems": the ability to scan human brains and program their connections into ever faster computers. Taking this as his starting point, Hanson describes what a world dominated by these ems will be like.
This book analyzes and elucidates the nature of predictable changes on the world's agricultural system caused by the so-called greenhouse effect. Its aim is to educate students at the undergraduate level about how the climatic factors affecting agriculture may be modified in the future, andwhat practical adaptations might be undertaken to prevent or overcome any possible adverse impacts on our ability to feed the world's population. The book draws on several complimentary disciplines, including atmospheric science, hydrology, soil science, crop physiology, and resource economics, andintegrates the relevant aspects of these fields.
From Josh Tickell, one of America’s most celebrated documentary filmmakers, comes a “fascinating, easy-to-follow blueprint for how eating in ways that nourish and regenerate the soil can not only help reverse global warming, but also bring greater vitality to our lives” (Wolfgang Puck). “A must read for anyone committed to healing our bodies and our Earth” (Deepak Chopra), Kiss the Ground explains an incredible truth: by changing our diets to a soil-nourishing, regenerative agriculture diet, we can reverse global warming, harvest healthy, abundant food, and eliminate the poisonous substances that are harming our children, pets, bodies, and ultimately our planet. This “richly visual” (Kirkus Reviews) look at the impact of an underappreciated but essential resource—the very ground that feeds us—features fascinating and accessible interviews with celebrity chefs, ranchers, farmers, and top scientists. Kiss the Ground teaches you how to become an agent in humanity’s single most important and time-sensitive mission: reverse climate change and effectively save the world—all through the choices you make in how and what to eat. Also a full-length documentary executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and narrated by Woody Harrelson, “Kiss the Ground both informs and inspires” (Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times bestselling author).
Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices—and, especially, modern industrial agriculture—have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world’s soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet. In The Soil Will Save Us, journalist and bestselling author Kristin Ohlson makes an elegantly argued, passionate case for "our great green hope"—a way in which we can not only heal the land but also turn atmospheric carbon into beneficial soil carbon—and potentially reverse global warming. As the granddaughter of farmers and the daughter of avid gardeners, Ohlson has long had an appreciation for the soil. A chance conversation with a local chef led her to the crossroads of science, farming, food, and environmentalism and the discovery of the only significant way to remove carbon dioxide from the air—an ecological approach that tends not only to plants and animals but also to the vast population of underground microorganisms that fix carbon in the soil. Ohlson introduces the visionaries—scientists, farmers, ranchers, and landscapers—who are figuring out in the lab and on the ground how to build healthy soil, which solves myriad problems: drought, erosion, air and water pollution, and food quality, as well as climate change. Her discoveries and vivid storytelling will revolutionize the way we think about our food, our landscapes, our plants, and our relationship to Earth.
Astrophysicist and NPR commentator on what the latest research on the existence and trajectories of alien civilizations may teach us about our own. Light of the Stars tells the story of humanity’s coming of age as we awaken to the possibilities of life on other worlds and their sudden relevance to our fate on Earth. Astrophysicist Adam Frank traces the question of alien life and intelligence from the ancient Greeks to the leading thinkers of our own time, and shows how we as a civilization can only hope to survive climate change if we recognize what science has recently discovered: that we are just one of ten billion trillion planets in the Universe, and it’s highly likely that many of those planets hosted technologically advanced alien civilizations. What’s more, each of those civilizations must have faced the same challenge of civilization-driven climate change. Written with great clarity and conviction, Light of the Stars builds on the inspiring work of pioneering scientists such as Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, whose work at the dawn of the space age began building the new science of astrobiology; Jack James, the Texas-born engineer who drove NASA’s first planetary missions to success; Vladimir Vernadsky, the Russian geochemist who first envisioned the Earth’s biosphere; and James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who invented Gaia theory. Frank recounts the perilous journey NASA undertook across millions of miles of deep space to get its probes to Venus and Mars, yielding our first view of the cosmic laws of planets and climate that changed our understanding of our place in the universe. Thrilling science at the grandest of scales, Light of the Stars explores what may be the largest question of all: What can the likely presence of life on other worlds tell us about our own fate?
This is a fully revised and expanded second edition of Malcolm Newson's acclaimed book. Exploring in greater depth the meaning of sustainability in river basin development this new edition: * highlights the rapid evolution of practical concepts since the Rio Earth Summit * features new illustrations and case studies from Australia, South Africa and Israel * makes the ecosystem model more explicit throughout * strengthens coverage of the linkages between land and water management.
Extend the human story backward for the five thousand years of recorded history and it covers no more than a millionth of a lifetime of the Earth. Yet how do we humans take stock of the history of our planet, and our own place within it? A “vast historical mosaic” (Publishers Weekly) rendered engaging and accessible, Big History interweaves different disciplines of knowledge to offer an all-encompassing account of history on Earth. Since its publication, Cynthia Brown’s “world history on a grand scale” (Kirkus) has been translated into nine languages and has helped propel the “big history” concept to viral status. This new edition of Brown’s seminal work is more relevant today than ever before, as we increasingly must grapple with accelerating rates of change and, ultimately, the legacy we will bequeath to future generations. Here is a pathbreaking portrait of our world, from the birth of the universe from a single point the size of an atom to life on a twenty-first-century planet inhabited by 7 billion people.
In Call of the Reed Warbler, Charles Massy explores regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health. It is the story of how a grassroots revolution--a true underground insurgency--can save the planet, help reduce and reverse climate change, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food. Using his personal experience as a touchstone--from an unknowing, chemical-using farmer with dead soils to a radical ecologist farmer carefully regenerating a 2000-hectare property to a state of natural health--Massy tells the real story behind industrial agriculture and the global profit-obsessed corporations driving it. With evocative stories, he shows how other innovative and courageous farmers are finding a new way. At stake is not only a revolution in human health and in our communities, but the very survival of the planet. For farmers, backyard gardeners, food buyers, health workers, policy makers, and public leaders alike, Call of the Reed Warbler offers a tangible path forward and a powerful and moving paean of hope. It's not too late to regenerate the earth. Call of the Reed Warbler shows the way forward for the future of our food supply, our planet, and our health.