How The ‘Black Fingers Of Death’ Can Help Defeat Climate Change


PROVO, UTAH — This small city on the Wasatch Front south of Salt Lake City seems an unlikely locale for what could turn out to be an important battle against climate change. But here, in a modest building housing the U.S. Forest Service’s Shrub Sciences Laboratory, research ecologist Susan Meyer and her colleagues are working laboriously to defeat a tenacious alien plant, cheatgrass, once dubbed the “invader that won the West.”

If they succeed and a broad effort is launched to restore millions of acres of degraded western land that have been profoundly altered by the invader, they may also be able to suck an enormous amount of carbon out of the atmosphere and store it below ground. There is “immense potential for increasing carbon sequestration through restoration of these degraded systems,” Meyer concluded in a 2012 research paper.


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