Book Review: Cows Save The Planet

Cows Save The Planet: And Other Improbable Ways Of Restoring The Soil To Heal The Earth, by Judith D. Schwartz

Although there is at least a bit I find fault with when it comes to the point of view of the author’s perspective. Yet by and large the author has a lot to say that is deeply interesting about the ways that properly handling cows in herds can help rather than hurt soil and lead to a greater sequestration of carbon in the soil itself. If the author avoids making miraculous claims about soil growth, there is still some impressive possibility when it comes to the way that soil can recover based on the survival of organisms in the soil in what would look like dead dirt that is not actually fully dead. This book amounts to a debate within the environmentalist community about ways that cows can be helpful to the environment rather than be seen as the enemies, and as someone who is quite fond of the raising of cows and quite aware that there are good ways for them to be raised, this book’s approach is one that I can generally get behind when it comes to the avoidance of overgrazing and the use of field rotation as a way of encouraging growth without destroying the ability of grass to recover.

This book is about 200 pages long and it contains a variety of chapters that discuss various aspects of soil health that are related to the health of the planet as a whole and the health of people. The book begins with a foreword and an introduction that demonstrate the author’s perspective and focus on the soil as being a key aspect of environmental protection. This leads to a look at the importance of the ground when it comes to carbon sequestration (1). After that there is a look at nature’s version of carbon trading (2), as well as the making and unmaking of deserts based on different types of grazing (3). The author talks about the return of lost water (4), the importance of soil health in making vegetables beneficial to people (5), as well as the importance of soil biodiversity (6). After that there is a look at the struggle over soil (7), as well a discussion of the issue of flood and droughts and extreme weather relating to soil health (8), which leads to the end of the book and the author’s view of the soil standard (9), after which there are acknowledgements, notes, a bibliography, and an index.

A book like this is pretty obviously designed to encourage the reader to think of farms in a new light, as positive forces for the soil rather than negative ones. This is, it should be noted, by no means a new problem. If it is to be regretted that there is so little awareness of history when it comes to soil management, it has always been the case that small family farms have tended to be handled differently than large industrial or plantation-style land which have not been treated as intensely and as intelligently. The author, when balancing her desire to make a provocative enough claim to sell books and draw attention and her more sober and rational and moderate claims about the work it takes to bring and to keep soil in a healthy area, demonstrates some of the nuances with regard to environmental thinking and reasoning that is not often seen nowadays. It is to be lamented that environmental thought tends to be immensely hostile to the interests of people, as it would be easier to get a coalition of people by not offending those who one needs to appeal to in order to have one’s views be taken seriously and supported by a large segment of society.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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