John Wick’s battered blue jeans, wire-rimmed glasses, and plaid work shirt make him look like a stereotypical rancher, but he is not. He’s a philanthropist, and he runs cattle on his 540-acre ranch in Northern California not for money or beef production, but instead to try to promote native grass species by mimicking grazing habits of the elk herds that once roamed these hills.
Through more than a decade of experimentation on his ranch, Wick has stumbled upon what may turn out to be a groundbreaking discovery: He’s found a way to manage grasslands that can curb climate change, while also providing multiple benefits to ranchers and to society.
Wick wasn’t always a climate activist. He worked as a carpenter and construction project manager, then married into the wealthy Rathmann family. (His father-in-law was the CEO of the massive biotech company Amgen.) When Wick and his wife, Peggy, moved out to their ranch 16 years ago, they were simply looking for more space for an art studio.
But in 2007, Wick started to worry about global warming. “I couldn’t sleep at night,” Wick says. “I was ... Read more