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Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country

Category: Book
Foreword By: Pollan, Michael
By (author): White, Courtney
Subject:  NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection
  SCIENCE / Environmental Science (see also Chemistry / Environmental)
  SCIENCE / General
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Published: May 2014
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 272
Size: 9.03in x 6.03in x 1.00in
List Price:
$ 27.95
Our Price:
$ 22.95
(18% Off)
Available to order

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

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 offset 100 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 CO2 while 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.

Review Quote*

Foreword Reviews-

"Optimism about scientific observations and what people can do to improve the environment makes this book inspiring. In Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey through Carbon Country, Courtney White provides a compelling and practical account of how carbon-an essential element and building block of life-may hold the answer to many pressing issues. Smart land use that captures carbon in the soil can enhance the climate, plant and animal diversity, our waterways, the quality of our food, and our quality of life in general. An engaging storyteller, White describes farmers, ranchers, scientists, artists, and many "everyday" people who are putting these ideas into action.  White has crafted a challenging, engaging narrative that will compel many readers to reconsider the link between our soil and the future of our planet."

Review Quote*

"This is a book to read for many reasons: to learn about the Earth's carbon cycle; to glimpse ways ‘conservation' is evolving, especially in the semi-arid West; and to understand the future of ranching and sustainable agriculture. It's also a book to read if you want to be infused with hope, and inspired to play a broader role in the face of climate change. For many of us who think about ways to create a more resilient world for future generations, it pays to think more about carbon. This book will get you started."--Jonathan Overpeck, co-director, Institute of the Environment; professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson

Review Quote*

"Grass, soil, hope: three simple words with the power to tackle society's most challenging problems. A ray of sunshine, converted by grass into carbon and stored in the soil, represents the possibility of a brighter future. Courtney White takes us on an enlightening journey to farms, ranches, and ecosystems around the world to show us where the most important molecule of life-carbon-is regenerating landscapes. An empowering and uplifting read!"--Gabe Brown, owner, Brown's Ranch, Bismarck, North Dakota

Review Quote*

"Grass, Soil, Hope is not just another gloom-and-doom composition about global climate change.  Courtney White takes the reader back to earth's beginnings to help illustrate the vital role of carbon in sustaining life and then gives real-life, real-time examples of agricultural practitioners who are using creativity and common sense to grow food, restore watersheds and wildlife habitat, and, yes, sequester lots of carbon."--William McDonald, fifth-generation cattle rancher; founder and director of the Malpai Borderlands Group

Review Quote*

"Grass, Soil, Hope is a wonderfully accessible account of the promise of soil and agriculture for a better climate and better future."--Thomas E. Lovejoy, professor of environmental science and policy, George Mason University, and senior fellow, United Nations Foundation

Review Quote*

"This delightful diamond of a book is a tour-de-force that covers the story of carbon from the Big Bang to your backyard. It's a must-read for anyone interested in how carbon endlessly cycles from soil into plants and animals (including humans), most of the things we create, and then on into the atmosphere that blankets our planet. At a time when environmental narratives have become gloomy, this book is a breath of optimism exhaled with practical recommendations for moving carbon from the air back into the soil, for the health of the planet and every creature on it."--Fred Provenza, professor emeritus, Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University

Review Quote*

"Courtney White employs a masterful blend of storytelling and science to communicate a most hopeful message: that building healthy soils- in some surprising and creative ways- can help solve our food, water, and climate challenges all at the same time.  The carbon-capturing farmers, ranchers, and conservationists whose work White so elegantly describes form the vanguard of a new movement of regenerative production that deserves society's attention and support.  Inspiring, thought-provoking, energizing, and-at bottom- full of hope."--Sandra Postel, Freshwater Fellow, National Geographic Society

Review Quote*

"Courtney White's journey was sparked by a question: What if we looked at carbon not just as a ‘pollutant', but from the standpoint of its role as the building block of life? What he found across the country and abroad were farmers, ranchers, and scientists who are working with the carbon cycle to build soil, restore ecosystems, and bolster productivity--in short, embracing life to generate more life. At once plain-spoken and radical, this book promises to stir up hope even among those made cynical by relentless bad news. White has made the case for hope. Whether this is turned to action is up to us."--Judith D. Schwartz, author, Cows Save the Planet