Climate change being fueled by soil damage—report
Published: May 27, 2019
Category: Regenerative Agriculture, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
A key strategy for reducing climate change focuses on restoring soil, a new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) emphasizes.
Soil contains three times more carbon than the atmosphere, and deforestation and farming practices are releasing that carbon. Soil erosion, compaction, over-watering, and building on top of soil are accelerating climate damage—by compromising growth of plants that absorb carbon, and releasing carbon previously stored by worms.
Professor Sir Bob Watson, IPBES chairman, notes that almost half the global population is suffering from degraded soil. “Governments have focused on climate change far more than they have focused on loss of biodiversity or land degradation,” he said. “All three are equally important to human wellbeing.”
Professor Jane Rickson added, “The thin layer of soil covering [Earth] represents the difference between survival and extinction for most terrestrial life.” Only three percent of the planet’s surface is suitable for arable production, with 75 billion tons of fertile soil lost to land degradation yearly.
South America (with its massive deforestation), sub-Saharan Africa, India, and China are leading agents of soil degradation. Chemical-intensive farming in the U.S. and heavy rainfall and erosion in the UK are worsening soil conditions. Peat lands are losing more of their carbon than formerly estimated.
If all the carbon in soil were to be released, “we’d get runaway climate change,” Dr. Joanna Clark noted.
Reforestation programs (“rewilding”) will protect soils, along with sustainable farming.
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