One of the earth’s valuable resources is its topsoil. “Globally, the soil contains over 3,000 gigatons of carbon, about four times the amount of carbon in the plant life, other atmosphere and all the plants in the world combined. This vast underground store regulates the carbon cycle, while contributing to food production, biodiversity, drought and flood resilience, and ecosystem functioning,” states Jennifer L. Soong, affiliate scientist at Colorado State University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This crucial carbon pool is a reliable net sink of atmospheric CO2. It can lessen the harmful impacts of human activity contributing to CO2 emissions and is being threatened by climate change and other factors.

Half of today’s topsoil has disappeared in the last 150 years. That means an average of three feet of topsoil needed for food production and land vegetation is vanishing precipitously. Besides the overwhelming contribution of fossil fuels to the climate disasters we are experiencing, the topsoil which provides nutrients for our planet’s life, other factors are: erosion cause by wind, rain, industrial farming, tilling, agrochemicals, deforestation. Losing one percent every year is currently ten times faster than any soil replenishment.

To avoid a tipping point where soil and warming shift into a positive feedback loop, we must drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “We also need to grow more trees and deep -rooted plants and protect them. We should conserve natural ecosystems and adopt sustainable agricultural practices.” (Soong) Increasing our soil carbon while we eliminate CO2 as quickly as possible, depends on us.

Elaine Peters for the Green Sanctuary Blog