Soil plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change

Soil plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change.

Here’s how:

1. Carbon Storage: The world’s soils capture more carbon than biomass (vegetation) and the atmosphere combined. Soil stores more of the world’s carbon than biomass and the atmosphere combined, making it a major carbon sink along oceans and forests. Increasing the carbon stocks in the top meter of soil by just 1% would capture more carbon than total annual global emissions from burning fossil fuels. Sustainable land management techniques can rapidly achieve this goal.

2. Soil Health: Much of the carbon in soil exists as organic matter like microbes, fungi, invertebrates, roots, and decomposing plants. However, studies show that 133 gigatons of CO2e (accounting for 8% of historical stocks) have been lost from soils since the dawn of agriculture. When soils lose their carbon, they become degraded and unable to provide nutrients supporting plant growth and biodiversity. This combination of nutrient loss, erosion, and weather variability can lead to dire consequences like desertification, affecting vulnerable groups and leading to displacements and famines.

3. Sequestering Carbon: Sequestering carbon in soil is a relatively natural way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with fewer impacts on land and water, less need for energy, and lower costs compared to other strategies like capturing emissions from biofuel-burning power plants or planting new forests. The Earth’s soils contain about 2,500 gigatons of carbon—more than three times the amount in the atmosphere and four times that stored in all living plants and animals. Improving soil health through better land management practices can enhance its ability to store carbon and help combat global warming.

4. Land Degradation: Land degradation contributes significantly to climate change. When land is degraded, soil carbon can be released into the atmosphere along with nitrous oxide. An estimated two-thirds of all terrestrial carbon stores from soils and vegetation have been lost since the 19th century due to land degradation.

In summary, improving soil health, quantifying organic carbon better, understanding soil carbon dynamics, and promoting regenerative practices are critical steps toward mitigating climate change while preserving biodiversity and food security. Soil is not only essential for agriculture but also plays a vital role in maintaining a stable climate.

Feel free to explore more about this fascinating topic! 😊.

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