Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.

Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People?

All parents remember the moment when they first held their children—the tiny crumpled face, an entire new person, emerging from the hospital blanket. I extended my hands and took my daughter in my arms. I was so overwhelmed that I could hardly think.

Afterward I wandered outside so that mother and child could rest. It was three in the morning, late February in New England. There was ice on the sidewalk and a cold drizzle in the air. As I stepped from the curb, a thought popped into my head: When my daughter is my age, almost 10 billion people will be walking the Earth. I stopped midstride. I thought, How is that going to work?

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Source:  Charles C. Mann, The Atlantic, March 2018.

The Edge of the Petri Dish

Can Humankind Avoid Its Biological Destiny?

Mann Cover

In June 30, 1860, Samuel Wilberforce, DD, 36th Bishop of Oxford, attended the 30th annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Oxford University. Countless students have been taught that during the meeting, Wilberforce attacked evolution, setting off an impromptu debate which became a “tipping point” in the history of thought. I was one of those students. The debate, my biology professor explained, was the opening salvo of the war between Science and Religion — and Religion lost. My textbook backed him up. Wilberforce’s anti-evolution assault, it said, was swept aside by researchers’ “careful and scientific defense.” In a flourish unusual in an undergraduate text, it boasted that the pro-evolution arguments “neatly lifted the Bishop’s scalp.” That day the forces of empirical knowledge had beaten back the armies of religious ignorance.

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Source:  Charles Mann, Breakthrough Journal No.8, Winter 2018

This scientist thinks she has the key to curb climate change: super plants

If this were a film about humanity’s last hope before climate change wiped us out, Hollywood would be accused of flagrant typecasting. That’s because Dr Joanne Chory is too perfect for the role to be believable.

The esteemed scientist – who has long banged the climate drum and now leads a project that could lower the Earth’s temperature – is perhaps the world’s leading botanist and is on the cusp of something so big that it could truly change our planet.

She’s also a woman in her 60s who is fighting a disease sapping her very life. In 2004, Chory was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which makes the timetable for success all the more tenuous.

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Source:  Adam Popescu, The Guardian, April 16, 2019

Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions, Scientists Find


There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.

The research, presented at this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington, D.C., argues that planting additional trees is one of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

Trees are “our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change,” Crowther told The Independent. Combining forest inventory data from 1.2 million locations around the world and satellite images, the scientists estimate there are 3 trillion trees on Earth — seven times more than previous estimates. But they also found that there is abundant space to restore millions of acres of additional forests, not counting urban and agricultural land.

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Source:  Yale Environment 360, February 20, 2019