Ohlson argues that the rise of agriculture has actually diminished our understanding of the rich and delicate ecosystem just below the ground. She indicts industrial agriculture in particular, as harsh practices like tilling our farmlands and saturating the ground with synthetic fertilizers have led to a swift and steady decline in soil health. The effects on our climate have been staggering. “The world’s soils have lost up to 80 billions tons of carbon…[and] land misuse accounts for 30 percent of the carbon emissions entering the atmosphere,” Olson writes.
“What we do with our urban green matters, whether it’s in our yards or our parks or even our highway median strips,” she writes. Indeed, the soil can only save us if we start building a world where healthy plants can take root, no matter where they are.