Al Gore, Meet Soil4Climate – Spontaneous Soil Summit at Tufts University Reception

“Al Gore’s leadership on climate change has been second to none. The inclusion of soil carbon drawdown in his Climate Reality training of climate educators has helped spread awareness of soil’s role in climate mitigation.”

– Dr. Bill Moomaw

Soil4Climate co-founders Karl Thidemann and Seth Itzkan. (Click to enlarge)

Vice President Al Gore recently spoke with two Soil4Climate representatives at a reception at Tufts University. Gore traveled to Tufts on February 7th to kick off the Spring 2018 Tisch College Distinguished Speaker Series. At the reception after Gore’s talk, William “Bill” Moomaw, Tufts University professor and Soil4Climate Advisory Board member, and Josephine “Josie” Watson, Tufts senior and Soil4Climate Student Representative, presented to Gore a packet containing information on Soil4Climate, as well as articles and research pertaining to soil as a climate solution.

On a preternaturally-warm 70°F/21°C February day in suburban Boston, Josie Watson commented, “As a college student concerned about changing weather patterns and increasing water scarcity, it’s obvious we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and get the excess CO2 out of the air. Regenerative agriculture offers a hopeful, safe, and practical way to draw down billions of tons of carbon while improving food and water security throughout the world.”

Although not widely known within the climate activism community, Al Gore has been a steady proponent of soil as a climate solution. As a judge in Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million contest launched in 2007 to identity a cost-effective and scalable way to draw down a large enough amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reverse climate change, Gore is very much aware of the need to remove CO2 from the air to assure a future climate compatible with civilization.

Al Gore’s 2009 book, “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis,” features a chapter on soil restoration as a climate mitigation strategy authored by Rattan Lal, Director of Ohio State University’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center and widely considered the preeminent soil scientist on the planet. A Newsweek review of the book quoted Gore as saying “[soil carbon sequestration] could cut 50 parts per million of CO2 from the atmosphere over the next 50 years.”

Gore learned about global warming during his undergraduate years at Harvard from none other than the legendary Roger Revelle, “Grandfather of the Greenhouse Effect,” who, some 15 years later, inspired Lal’s research into soil carbon drawdown. The momentous first meeting of Revelle and Lal, two giants of science, is chronicled in Soil4Climate Advisory Board member Kristin Ohlson’s book, The Soil Will Save Us.

Soil4Climate, a U.S.-based nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, advocates for regenerative cropping and grazing practices to improve soil fertility, increase the bionutrient density of food, restore wildlife habitat, prevent flooding, return flow to dried-up rivers, and revitalize pastoral communities while sequestering atmospheric carbon.

Remineralize the Earth board directors Dr. Tom Goreau and Greg Watson also serve on Soil4Climate’s advisory board and advocate remineralization for both increasing the bionutrient density of food and sequestering carbon. Given Gore’s high profile advocacy for the climate, it is significant that Soil4Climate was able to promote the case for soil and regenerative agriculture as solutions to climate change.


Karl Thidemann is a Co-founder and Co-director of Soil4Climate. He serves on the board of the Somerville Community Growing Center, a quarter-acre, urban oasis offering organic gardening experiences, as well as artistic and cultural programs, to the public. Karl is also Co-founder of Somerville Climate Action. Thidemann holds a B.A. in chemistry from Wesleyan University. His focus is climate communications, including poetry.


Resources presented to Gore

  1. Hope Below Our Feet: Soil As a Climate Solution – A policy brief co-authored by researchers at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute and Soil4Climate
  2. Using Soil to Fight Climate Change – An op-ed co-authored by Bill McKibben and Soil4Climate 
  3. The Agriculture of Hope: Climate Farmers of North America  – An article written by Soil4Climate 
  4. Conventional Farming Ruined The Soil On Our Farm – Here’s How We Saved It – An article by regenerative farmer and Soil4Climate Advisory Board member Jesse McDougall 
  5. The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America – A 2016 paper on the climate benefits of well-managed grazing
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