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How Climate Change Can Affect Our Plans

It seems like more severe natural disasters are happening than ever before, and with them, the costly aftermath of cleaning up is building up. While it may be a given that engineers would just rebuild a bridge after an earthquake or reconstruct houses after a fire, there’s a lot of calculating going on behind the scenes.


Devex points out that engineers are faced with the dilemma of how to build for the future — long term — as opposed to past practices of just repairing or reconstructing what was lost in a disaster.

While I don’t often write about climate change, I do think about it from a different angle, and that is from the Earth itself, and the earth that makes up this planet. To that end, an estimated 80 percent of soil carbon in heavily farmed areas has been lost due to destructive plowing, overgrazing and the use of carbon-depleting chemical fertilizers and pesticides — and this is something we all need to be concerned about.

Interestingly, the cause of this — the “green revolution” — has a name that’s actually an ironic misnomer, as this type of destructive agriculture is literally killing our Earth, which is a far cry from being a “green” way to live. Topsoil destruction, erosion and desertification are all exacerbated by industrial practices such as tilling, chemical use, monocropping and not using cover crops.

Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has warned that at the current rate of topsoil degradation, all the world’s topsoil will be gone in less than 60 years! The good news is that there are answers, and that a growing section of our farming communities are starting to heed the warning signs, and addressing them with something called carbon sequestration.

Overall, the importance of carbon sequestration simply cannot be overstated. Not only will it reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) load in the atmosphere, but once sequestered in the soil, the carbon actively nourishes soil health and improves water retention.

According to some estimates, a mere 1 percent increase in organic soil carbon could increase the land’s water holding capacity by an additional 20,000 gallons per acre. Moreover, any rain that falls will also be more effectively absorbed and used, rather than evaporating into the air or eroding soils by rapid runoff.

To that end, much of the focus on reducing greenhouse gases revolves around reducing carbon emissions, but now that we’re armed with rapidly expanding knowledge about carbon storage in soils, greater attention really should be paid to carbon sequestration and soil restoration.

Wetlands are also crucial in this respect, as they keep carbon under water where it cannot escape. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing its resilience to floods, pests and drought.

So, how do you increase the amount of carbon in your soil? One way is to use biochar, which is created by slowly heating a biomass in a low-oxygen environment, such as a kiln, until everything but the carbon is burned off. The resulting biochar — similar to charcoal — is then added to compost, sawdust or fish waste, for example, before being placed into the ground.