I know an article is really important if it gets emailed to me by more than one person. A recent article that appeared on Grist.org was sent to me many times by many people, and I must share it with you and explain its significance.
In Organic Manifesto, I talk a lot about how chemical agriculture destroys the soil—and more important, the soil’s natural ability to store carbon (and some would say that soil’s purpose is to store carbon). It’s possible that all the carbon dioxide we have thrust into the air is staying up there and causing all sorts of climate chaos BECAUSE the soil is losing its ability to do what it was meant to do, absorb and store carbon.
I report in my book about how agricultural chemicals kill the living organisms in the soil that are responsible for doing this important work. But until I saw this article, I assumed that this was probably more due to herbicides and fungicides than to fertilizer (although the toxicity of fertilizer creation and distribution alone is enough to mark it as a criminal).
Now we’re learning that synthetic, artificial, chemical nitrogen fertilizer is not only a huge problem because it destroys the health of soil, but it’s also responsible for unleashing NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) into the atmosphere—which is apparently 300 times more powerful as a “greenhouse gas” than CO2.
This article, by Tom Philpott, is a must-read. What is ironic is that, just like tobacco, scientists knew about this problem as far back as the 1930s—but in our rush to adopt “new technology,” we often ignore the voices of caution and race blindly towards our own destruction.
Fortunately, there is a solution that works, and works well: organic agriculture.