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From the News Archives...

Want to reduce global warming? Plant a cow.

It's a well known fact that trees draw carbon dioxide from the air and store it as carbon, thereby slowing the rate of global warming. But a new study from Duke University reveals that restoring native grasslands might be a better solution than planting trees in wetter areas of the country. "Grasses are deceptively productive," says lead investigator Robert Jackson. "You don't see where all the carbon goes, so there is a misconception that woody species [such as trees and shrubs] store more carbon. That's just not the case." Grasses store vast amounts of carbon in their underground root mass.

Raising cattle on grass is one way to make it financially feasible to expand our native grasslands. Although cows generate their own greenhouse gasses, the net effect of raising ruminants on pasture is to slow global warming. (For more information about grassfed cattle and greenhouse gasses, refer to Grassfarming and the Environment.)

Jackson, R. B., J. L. Banner, E. G. Jobbagy, W. T. Pockman, and D. H. Wall. "Ecosystem Carbon Loss with Woody Plant Invasion of Grasslands." Nature 418, no. 6898 (2002): 623-6.Robert Jackson.

 

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