The Research Project – Week Five, California Compost

Someone once made the comment that “all theology is biography.” A person or theologian goes through an existential crisis and pursues answers and ends up establishing a whole new system of theology.

What I’m finding out with The Research Project is that research is also often biography. A researcher or other random person is confronted with a problem, thinks up a possible solution to said problem and goes to work to see if her potential solution will actually work.

This is the case with the research project I have chosen to highlight in week five of The Research Project. John Wick, a ranch owner in Marin County, California hired rangeland ecologist Jeff Creque to help him revitalize the rangelands on his ranch. Creque did more than just revitalize Wick’s rangelands. He also convinced Wick to use his ranch as a test site for research into carbon sequestration, the process by which organically enriched soil absorbs and stores carbon from the air.

In order to make sure they were going about their research in the right way Wick and Creque sought the help of Professor Whendee Silver of the University of California – Berkley. Dr. Silver is an authority on the chemical exchanges that occur among plants, soils and the atmosphere. The more Silver worked with Wick and Creque the more her initial skepticism disappeared.

Dr. Silver found that

“A judicious scattering of finished compost on our rangelands could liStock_000005900018Smallock up gigatons of atmospheric carbon, preventing it from heating up the planet and contributing to such unpleasantness as prolonged drought, polar ice cap loss, sea level rise and ocean acidification…If a quarter-inch to one-half inch layer of compost were applied to 5 percent of California’s rangelands, it would sequester 28 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere—the equivalent to the annual emissions of 6 million cars.”

That certainly sounds too good to be true. And yet, the published papers and support in the scientific community indicate that it’s the real deal. Some believe that this research could result in not just stopping global warming but reversing it.

Funding for the research and development of the protocols was provided the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State Coastal Conservancy, and the 11th Hour Project, a program supported by the Schmidt Family Foundation.

Here is the link to the article this blog is based on:

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