The book 'Cows Save the Planet' by Judith Schwartz’s puts holistic perspective that the soil and its rich microbial life is at the heart of our dynamic global ecosystem.
Soil is under siege. It is disappearing at an alarming rate. Topsoil is being depleted faster than it can be replenished and something like 83 billion tons of it is lost every year. On top of that over 70% of it is degraded. Soil fertility in India is lost by almost 50% in last 30 years!
Repairing soil, has the potential to ‘cure’ climate change – which is a remarkable idea – because of the ability of healthy soil to lock up carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. Schwartz argues that rebuilding the health of our soils can turn around a wide range of environmental ailments like climate change.
Improving and increasing soil goes hand in hand with locking carbon into it. Soil sits at the centre of the earth’s carbon cycle. If carbon’s not locked up in our soil, it’s being released into our atmosphere. So Schwartz argues, we can address two critical issues facing us in the 21st century by caring for our soil – lowering carbon levels in the atmosphere and feeding an increasing global population.
This is where cows come in. Building soil is a top down activity where the myriad microbial life around a plant’s root system in healthy soil feeds the subsoil farther down turning it into topsoil. Cows and livestock can speed up this transformation, if well managed, because they are key contributors to the microbial world due to their dung.
Earth is at the root of everything, as the Sanskrit proverb that Schwartz quotes in her introduction signifies, ‘Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Care for it and it will grow our food, our fuel, our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.’
The same message is depicted by Shri Krishna during the incessant which led to destruction of top soil. Being the scientist and strategist he was, he indicated that the path to overcome the destruction of humanity is to come under or take shelter of Gobardhan - a mound of cow dung.
Cows Save the Planet by Judith D. Schwartz is published by Chelsea Green, available on Amazon in India