2015-09-11 / Letters

Lawn care can help reverse global warming

To the editor:

I was amazed to learn that how we care for our lawns and soil can be a pivotal tool for reversing the dangerous direction we are going with global warming.

NASA scientists have documented that lawns are now the largest single “crop” in the U.S., covering an estimated 63,000 square miles. Dr. Rattan Lal, a leading soil scientist from Ohio State University, has said

“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.”

Our use of pesticides and herbicides on our lawns kills off the microorganisms that soil needs to carry on the natural process wherein plants capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into healthy food for plants – storing the excess carbon in the soil for decades to centuries. In addition to capturing and holding the CO2, which is now negatively impacting our atmosphere and oceans, having the carbon returned into the soil makes the soil healthier and more productive. It also makes soil significantly more drought and flood resistant, which is so important, given our increasing extreme weather conditions. I believe that while we need to continue to work on reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, we cannot afford to ignore this other under-recognized tool for responsibly preserving the sustainability of our planet for future generations.

We can start with working toward eliminating the use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers and learning how to care for our lawns organically. Using chemical fertilizers also contributes to increased CO2 in the atmosphere. We can start with letting grass grow longer (4 inches). Setting mowers to cut no shorter than 3 inches and mulching the cuttings that serve as a natural fertilizer, as does allowing clover growth, which provides nitrogen naturally. Watering less frequently and using compost in our gardens nurtures the healthy microorganisms and the soil. A 2,500-square-foot, organically cared for lawn has the capacity to capture and store 50 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere each year. We can make a difference.

To learn more about this you can do a Google search “Carbon Sequestration” or read “The Soil Will Save Us,” by Kristin Ohlson.

Roberta Zuckerman South Portland

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