Research: Rocks Can Reduce Global Warming and Improve Food Production

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. minute / maɪˈnut -ˈnyut, mɪ- / (adj) – very small in size

    I am experiencing allergic reactions to minute dust particles.

  2. impede / ɪmˈpid / (v) – to slow down one’s progress

    The heavy rain impeded the delivery of medicine supplies to some provinces.

  3. offset / ɔfˈsɛt / (v) – to make up for the effect of something

    Cheaper rents offset the extra cost of commuting to work from the countryside.

  4. greenhouse gas / ˈgrinˌhaʊs gæs / (n) – a type of gas that contributes to global warming

    The government has passed a new law that limits activities that emit greenhouse gases.

  5. yield / yild / (v) – to produce something

    Our farm yielded abundant crops this year.


Read the text below.

A recent research found that minute rock particles can impede global warming and boost crop production.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield / ˈʃɛf ild / looked into a process called ‘enhanced rock weathering,’ which involves the use of crushed volcanic rocks that make minerals lock carbon dioxide (CO2) into the soil more effectively. Findings revealed that this technique can help not only in offsetting CO2 levels in the atmosphere but also in keeping the soil fertile.

According to the researchers, adding a sufficient amount of these crushed volcanic rocks to over 66% of the world’s croplands can eliminate up to over 4.4 billion metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere each year by 2100. This figure is equivalent to around 10% of the world’s emission of greenhouse gases, which include CO2.

The study results further showed that enhanced rock weathering can also produce minerals—such as magnesium—that act as fertilizers. Because this boosts plant nutrients, farmlands can then yield more crops.

Despite the benefits of enhanced rock weathering, the researchers believe that further studies should be conducted. Although the technique can help fight against global warming, the process of mining and grinding volcanic rocks still requires energy that releases carbon. In addition, acquiring, processing, and transporting the rocks can also be costly.

On another note, the amount of rocks needed and the effects of these costly processes on soils remain unclear.

Nevertheless, the researchers assured that more innovative plans to reduce CO2 are underway and that they intend to also carefully evaluate each plan’s pros and cons.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the findings of the study are promising? Why or why not?
• Would you approve of the use of enhanced rock weathering in your country’s farms? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What do you think are the biggest issues being faced by your country’s agricultural sector? Explain.
• How should the government raise public awareness of the issues faced by the agricultural sector?