The soils of the earth contain between three and four-and-a-half times as much carbon—just in the first few feet—as do the plants and trees, and more than twice as much as is currently in the atmosphere. With improved agricultural and land management practices, we can significantly increase the amount of CO2 that is pulled from the atmosphere by vegetation and left sequestered in the soil, while enhancing agricultural productivity and food security—and restoring degraded lands—at the same time. As with other climate solutions, however, the success of this promising strategy depends upon large-scale changes in long-established patterns.
By changing our land use patterns, we can not only reduce emissions of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide, we can also pull a significant percentage of the CO2 already accumulated in the atmosphere into the soils, where much of it can be sequestered for hundreds or even thousands of years. And, as is the case with most of the solutions to the climate crisis, the co-benefits are also of great value to human civilization.