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Climate Change > Soil as "Climate Bomb"

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message 1: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 426 comments Mod
This is both scary and potentially encouraging. Bloomberg just published a thought-provoking article about recent research regarding soil's role in either accelerating or mitigating the impact of global warming.

There’s a Climate Bomb Under Your Feet

This covers some of the feedback mechanisms that can either be harnessed (with prudent land management or other human actions) to slow down the effects of climate change... or can amplify the effects when humans behave irresponsibly. It's really a "good news, bad news" article. Here's an example of the good news:

What the Annual Review authors do point out, though, is that land use and agricultural practices can simultaneously trap carbon in soil—helping the fight against warming—and improving yields for all the things humanity’s swelling population will need in coming decades. Reducing tillage and fallow time, managing grazing better, planting more legumes, and other practices all help keep more carbon in the ground... Binding scientists, policymakers, and land-owners together in conversation could have a significant effect on reducing global CO2, perhaps offsetting projected emissions from thawing permafrost in the rapidly melting, high-latitude Northern Hemisphere.

And the bad news:

Scientists have long been concerned that once humans kicked off warming of the atmosphere and seas, other parts of nature will take what we've begun and run with it. Some things are in our control—land use, pollution from fossil-fuel combustion. A global pulse in microbial carbon-munching, however, they write, “could be very difficult, if not impossible, to halt.”

Sobering, to be sure. So what about others in the Green Group community: do you see this glass as half full or half empty? ;-)

message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2001 comments I would say it's a glass full of abuse. There is nothing natural about the way we are terrraforming the surface of the Earth. We will only get unnatural results with far reaching consequences.

The over use of antibiotics on farms for the past 70 years throughout the word changed the soil into a massive petri dish that spawned the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The soil is also a home for viruses, fungi, and bacteria of all sorts. Our farming is nothing more than dumping our style of living into the soil and it is hardly likely that it is improving their disposition towards our existence. That micro world basically supports us because we are a part of it, but there is absolutely no rules set in stone that says they have to continue to be beneficial to our way of life.

Everything we put into the soil, whether it is farm related, infrastructures to make life easier for us, or just landfills of garbage and abandoned stuff is processed by everything living in the soil. It gets naturally recycled by the micro back into the environment we live in. They are doing us a favor by making substances we have used, easier for our bodies to have access to so we can use it again. That is how the real world works. We thought we threw it away but it always comes back ready for our bodies to use again. The fact that most of the substances we use are never supposed to enter our bodies is of no importance to the constantly recycling micro world.

The micro world has been living strong and large for 4 billion years uninterrupted. It has withstood shifting tectonic plates, ice ages that covered the world, volcanoes that filled the world's atmosphere with the interior of the Earth for a million years, occasional wayward massive asteroids and comets as well as the rise and fall of innumerable multicellular life species.

Don't ask what your planet can do for you, ask what you can do for the planet, because whatever we do it, the planet will do back to us, many times over. It's called leverage. It helps naturally sustaining life live long and prosper. Since we, as well as all multicellular life, are non essential to the overall operation of the biosphere, our place in it is not guaranteed. The micro world lives with or without us, but we can't live without the micro world's support, which is mostly in the dirt.

message 3: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2001 comments Wild boars spend time rooting in the dirt looking for food. They are indicators of how clean the soil is from a radioactive standpoint. The number of radioactive boars is increasing as time goes on from radioactive accidents that pollute the soil.

Radioactive wild boar spark concerns in Sweden 31 years after Chernobyl

Thousands of radioactive boars are overrunning farmland in Fukushima

Radioactive pigs are wandering Central Europe, 30 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster: Czech Republic

In Germany, with the levels of contamination still showing in tests, experts predict it could be around for another 50 years.

message 4: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6047 comments Mod
Seems appropriate to put here an article about how Oman's rocks - peridot which is normally found well below the surface - absorb carbon and could be used to take carbon from the air.

message 5: by Robert (new)

Robert Zwilling | 2001 comments The picture at the end of the article pretty much sums up the situation. People like to think that ground pollution is restricted to industrial sites that are in someone else's neighborhood. The problem is that the material is shifted around over a period of time by the expansion of new population areas and the covering and uncovering of the land below the immediate surface.

With increased rainfall and increased surface winds this will probably spread the material over wider areas that never had industrial activity. It affects everyone not just the areas around factories. The only way to find it is to test for it. Since there are literally thousands of substances to test for this means it cost a lot of money which is where doing everything for a profit backfires in all our faces.

Supposedly there is a robotic AI approach to multiple testing of different substances at the same time which saves time and money. Unfortunately the human first approach invariably leads to turning the savings into profit by charging the savings as cost to the consumer which serves to slow down the testing efforts.

message 6: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6047 comments Mod
Restoring peatlands, which had been drained. Ireland is taking steps to halt drainage and restore the moss.

" A 15cm thick peat layer contains more carbon per hectare than a tropical forest,” Joosten points out. Though peatlands form only 3 per cent of the planet’s land surface, they are massive “carbon sinks”, storing twice as much carbon as all standing forests.

Worldwide, peatlands converted to farmland now produce almost one third of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Joosten warns that other problems follow: drained peatlands subside, and he predicts that subsidence will lead to the “uncontrolled flooding of 10-20 million hectares of productive land in this century”. ......

His proposed solution is a dramatic one, with an unfamiliar name: paludiculture, agriculture on wetlands. However, the examples he gave in his presentation related almost exclusively to the production of crops like reeds for building materials, and of biomass as fuel, rather than of food crops.

He acknowledges this point, but says that we can progress rapidly towards new wetland alternatives for soy, cereals, and other crops. "

message 7: by Brian (new)

Brian Burt | 426 comments Mod
Clare wrote: "Though peatlands form only 3 per cent of the planet’s land surface, they are massive “carbon sinks”, storing twice as much carbon as all standing forests."

That is an amazing stat. I had no idea. Protect the peat!!! ;-)

message 8: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6047 comments Mod

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