The Solution Might Be Right Under Our Feet: Scientists Suggest Soil May Hold The Key To Climate Change

Scientists: Excess Atmospheric Greenhouse Gasses Could Theoretically Be Stored In Soil

It’s always in the last place you look. that’s what they used to say whenever you’d lose something as a kid, the joke of which would often go over small heads.

But there is also a nugget of truth in the old adage: sometimes solutions to problems are right in front of our noses.

Or, in the case of a new study by scientists looking at ways to ameliorate greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, right under our feet.

A group of US and Scottish scientists report that with a few changes to current agricultural practices, the soil could take on a great deal more greenhouse gasses than it already does. The world’s soils currently hold an estimated 2.4 trillion tons of gases in the form of organic carbon, but the study says there is room for more.

“In our fight to avoid dangerous climate change in the 21st century, we need heavyweight allies,” said Dave Reay, a geoscientist at Edinburgh University. “One of the most powerful is right beneath our feet. Soils are already huge stores of carbon and improved management can make them even bigger.”

Researchers have for years been aware that soils play a big role in global carbon distribution. They have even established that the spread of global agriculture thousands of years ago coincided with a tremendous global release of carbon. Scientists now estimate that the way we use the land accounts for maybe a fourth of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, with between 10 and 14 percent of those stemming directly from agriculture.

And since we can get carbon out of the soil, the study reasons, maybe its time we figure out how to put it back in.

Two ways would be for farmers to grow crops with deeper root systems, and use charcoal-based composts.

But there are a host of additional practices that agriculture could easily adapt to. Especially given the urgency of the problem of global climate change, it certainly seems like it’s time to look at an “every little bit helps” suite of solutions to be implemented around the world.

Indeed, when you do some research on how badly big agriculture abuses the planet on so many fronts, perhaps it is time for a mandate from the people: go clean or go home.

There is a movement to “keep it in the ground” when it comes to oil and natural gas–why not such a movement for carbon as well?

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