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How can soil's superpowers help us fight climate change?

Updated August 4, 2023 at 9:46 AM ET

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode What Lies Beneath.

Earth's soil can store vast amounts of carbon. Biogeochemist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe says soil could be a powerful tool for fighting climate change - if only we stopped treating it like dirt.

About Asmeret Asefaw Berhe

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is a soil biogeochemist and President Biden's nominee to lead the Department of Energy Office of Science. She is a professor of soil biogeochemistry at University of California, Merced. Her research group works to understand how soil helps regulate the earth's climate.

Berhe's work exists at the intersection of soil, climate change, and political ecology. During her graduate career, she was a member of the working group that produced the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, which was called for by the United Nations to assess the impact of humans on the environment.

Berhe received a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation at the University of Asmara in Eritrea. She has an M.Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from University of California, Berkeley.

This segment of the TED Radio Hour was produced by Matthew Cloutier and Sylvie Douglis and edited by Rachel Faulkner and Katie Simon. You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at

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Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Matthew Cloutier is a producer for TED Radio Hour. While at the show, he has focused on stories about science and the natural world, ranging from operating Mars rovers to exploring Antarctica's hidden life. He has also pitched these kinds of episodes, including "Through The Looking Glass" and "Migration."
Rachel Faulkner is a producer and editor for TED Radio Hour.
Katie Simon
Katie Simon is the Supervising Editor for Embedded, which showcases premier enterprise documentary storytelling for NPR and the NPR Network.