Soil Plays a Much Bigger Role In the Fight Against Global Warming

Soil is obviously extremely important for all of life, but it might be playing a much larger role in the fight against global warming than anyone originally thought.

According to Newsweek, carbon dioxide causing the planet to warm could end up increasing emissions thanks to the already higher temperatures.

“This self-reinforcing feedback is potentially a global phenomenon with soils, and once it starts it may be very difficult to turn off,” said Jerry Melillo, ecologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory. “It’s that part of the problem that I think is sobering.”

Melillo and a few other researchers published a new study in the journal Science that suggests the carbon dioxide impact could be much more significant than scientists had previously expected.

“This is the classic case study of how warming affects soil and soil carbon. It really gives us some good insight into how the planet’s stocks of carbon will be changing as the climate gets warmer,” added Steven Allison, an ecologist at the University of California, Irvine.

Healthy soil typically contains 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air, and 5% organic matter. But when large amounts of carbon dioxide are added, the soil loses much of its health. There are thousands of types of soil worldwide, however, and each kind has a different structure that could impact how carbon is broken down.

Conversely, soil also holds the potential to slow global warming.

According to Stanford News, planet matter and soil could offset carbon emissions if handled properly.

“Dirt is not exciting to most people,” said Rob Jackson, lead author of the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Semantics article. “But it is a no-risk climate solution with big co-benefits. Fostering soil health protects food security and builds resilience to droughts, floods and urbanization.”

Retaining healthy soil helps farmers grow better crops, keeps the global water supply purified, and keeps the atmosphere much cleaner.

More research is needed to determine how effective soil can be in the fight to combat global warming, but discovering this information is a significant step in the right direction.

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