Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, Stephanie Kelton discussed on TED Talks Daily

TED Talks Daily
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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Support life. In life in soil is mostly microbial. The Dutch scientist antoni van leeuwenhoek saw a tiny organisms he called the wee beasties under his microscope, about 350 years ago. And with the rapid innovation of molecular and computational tools, we are finally getting a sneak peek at who they are and how they make their way in the world. Here's the thing, a teaspoon of soil holds billions of organisms, things like bacteria, fungi, protists, and archaea. These microbes are the movers and shakers of nature's carbon cycle. They drive really important processes in soil, they take organic matter and convert it into complex carbon molecules. And having more carbon and soil is transformative. As carbon accumulates, agricultural fields can hold on to more water and more nutrients. Building resilience that helps them deal with the ups and downs of a changing climate. That resilience means plants can grow more consistently, even when the weather is fickle. And the awesome thing is, carbon rich soils help buffer us against what is an uncertain climate future. The trick is to really rethink how we do agriculture. So there's the good news, which is there are some tried and true ways that we can get more carbon in our soils and build our soils back. We can plow less and we can make sure that we have roots in the ground year round. Feeding the microbes and powering that microbial engine humming under our feet. And we can do this. The other thing is, diversity is the key ingredient in this recipe. Diverse plant communities support diverse microbial communities that can transform and store more carbon. Diversity is good for soils, and is good for climate mitigation. Just like we need every microbe, we need every farmer and rancher, every climate solution. And every solver. So, healthy carbon rich soils matter today, more than ever. The other great thing about carbon rich soils is they help farmers have a more consistent agricultural operations and more sustainable ones that can withstand the ups and downs of a changing climate. That's a huge win for the people that grow our food. It's a win for climate and it's a win for us consumers. So how do we do it? Well, there are three simple things we can do. Number one, we have to protect our soils and the carbon they already hold. Number two, we can get more carbon underground by growing diverse, climate adapted, crops. And number three, we can let the microbes do their thing. Leave them alone by leaving the soil undisturbed. It sounds simple and that's because it kind of is. But there are some questions that are left to be answered. And there's a lot of room for us to innovate. We need to track and measure our climate progress. We need to develop more climate resilient crop varieties that can grow deeper roots and pump carbon underground deeper. And we need to rethink our economic models in agriculture and help support and incentivize these carbon sequestering agricultural practices. So lots of room for innovation, lots of room for research, good news for us scientists. But we don't have time to waste, climate change is here, and it's affecting all of us, whether we know it or not. It's affecting every single ecosystem, including agriculture. Soils that are literal foundation of life on this planet. The reason that we can eat and a climate solution just waiting to be unlocked. So let's build back our soils, help our planet by looking down to the ground. Thank you. I'm Stephanie kelton, an economist and a co host of the market watch podcast the best new ideas and money. Money is an idea, which has made it up, and since we made it up, we can change it. We can upgrade its operating system to make it fairer, faster, and more efficient. Each week, we explore one idea with the potential to rethink the way we live, work, spend, save, and invest. Subscribe to the best new ideas in money wherever you listen to podcasts. PRX..

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