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OUR TAKE: A Soil-Science Revolution Upends Plans to Fight Climate Change

This article published in Quanta on July 27, 2021 by Gabriel Popkin says soils don’t sequester carbon long term, contrary to the dominant soil science humus paradigm. The Global Climate Models (GCMs) that the IPCC uses reflect the old, not the new paradigm. This overstates the capacity of soil to absorb and sequester carbon. So much for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). 

It’ll be interesting to see if the latest IPCC report now being vetted prior to release will reflect the advances soil science has made in the last decade. That report should shorten the already short time mankind has to rebalance the carbon cycle, and by extension, to keep the global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C and the climate a hospitable one for humans. 

Such an IPCC report would be a strong argument to redirect funds from developing CCS technologies to other more promising avenues. These would include: 

— halting deforestation 

— reforestation

— forest restoration and management

— nurturance and restoration of depleted coastal mangrove stands

— restoring seaweed forests and seagrass pastures

— greening of cities both through the planting or replanting of urban trees, and the promotion of rooftop gardens

— developing technologies to improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells (PVCs)

— speeding the development and commercialization of green hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells

— facilitating production of long-term, utility-scale batteries to end once and for all the intermittency problem of solar and wind energy generation

— funding research and development of cheap, durable, safe, and efficient solid-state batteries for cars, trucks, trains, and planes

All of these avenues would now seem better investments than either carbon capture from fossil fuel smokestacks or carbon recovery directly from the air or ocean. Jeff Besos has offered a $100 million prize for anyone who can develop a viable commercial-scale carbon capture technology, but his pocket change would be better spent elsewhere if his interest is in human welfare.

image: https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-soil-science-revolution-upends-plans-to-fight-climate-change-20210727/

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One Response

  1. Excellent! Because it lists real undertakings! By offering concrete, thematic, general, examples, the way is pointed toward that illusive aspect of political response to climate change – not just A Plan, but many plans according to circumstance! As such these areas/projects of promise can be pointed to, shaped, defined, adapted, responded to, reported on and should dramatically assist governments, corporates, communities and citizens to move beyond the necessary urgent, but frustratingly vague targets to the all-important next phase – knowing the range of responses possible and actively seeking with stakeholders to achieve appropriate individual models, changes in life style, and quantifiable solutions that evolve economically.

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