It's a well-documented fact that our dietary habits are a big driver in climate change is our eating habits. We cut down vast swaths of rainforests for cattle, factory farming expels tons of methane into the air, pesticides have disrupted the insect populations and are responsible for bee colony death.
As we've become more aware of the problem, it's followed with a kind of despair. The problems seems so systemic and entrenched in the culture that it seems too late to do anything. Many who care the most about these issues have resigned themselves to waiting for our annihilation.
“There’s so much bad news about our planet, it’s overwhelming,” opens narrator Woody Harrelson. “The fear that we’re headed for a cliff puts most of us in a state of paralysis. The truth is, I’ve given up. And the odds are so have you. But what if there was another path?”
The new documentary "Kiss the Ground" aims to change the conversation around the climate crisis. There's hope. The soil under our feet, which has been abused by industrialization, can be cultivated and healed. The documentary shows how once ravaged ecology can be tended to and brought back to health, bringing biodiversity back to once barren landscapes. This will create more plant life, which will pull carbon emissions out of the air.
“When you talk to people about this great technology that has existed for millions of years that takes carbon out of the atmosphere and stores it safely in the soil, and it’s called plants working with soil microorganisms, it seems too simple!” exclaims Kristin Ohlson, author of “The Soil Will Save Us.”
The process is a multi-tiered effort, involving reimagining our waste, food, farming, and energy industries, but there's a sense that it can be done. As an example, the documentary follows a Bay Area holistic rancher and San Francisco’s waste collection and recycling company, Recology. The film follows company head Doniga Markegard as she explains how her family maintains soil function and health by rotating the paddocks their cattle graze on their 8,000-acre ranch in Half Moon Bay.
“The form of agriculture that we use creates billions of lives in the form of soil microbes, in nematodes and in grassland birds; all that wildlife is flourishing under an agriculture system versus a tilled crop field which is denude of life,” Markegard says.
“There are continents and other really large regions that are hit with a double whammy of higher temperatures and drought,” says company public relations manager Robert Reed. “This kills soil. This kills life.”
“In San Francisco, we’re collecting 700 tons of food scraps and plant cuttings per day … We collect our food scraps, we put them in the green bin, it goes off to Recology’s compost facility, we turn it into compost and it gets on a farm. That’s a simple solution.”
This is a great first step, but that doesn't mean that the battle won't be intense nor the need urgent.
“According to the United Nations, the world’s topsoil will be gone in sixty years,” says Harrelson, “In other words, unless we find a way to save our soils, we have 60 harvests left.”