“Since the start of the Industrial Revolution we’ve opened the tap further so additional atmospheric carbon is pouring into the tub while the drain size has remained the same. To re-gain balance we need to either turn down the tap, widen the drain, or do both,” Ima explained. “Turning down the tap is the easiest and least expensive option. Everyone can help by using less fossil fuel energy. Right now Congress is considering the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act that would make it easier to do just that.”
“But what about all that excess carbon that’s already in the atmosphere?” Jess Juan-Durring wondered aloud. “We gotta make the drain bigger, don’t we?” he asked.
“Indeed we do! And that’s where dirt and trees come in,” Ima said pointing to the lab table. She went on to explain how both trees (and all plants to some degree) and the soil act as “carbon sinks” to sequester or lock-up carbon. Trees take in CO2 from the air and incorporate it into their structure. Besides that, their roots transfer carbon back into the soil.
Then she went on to explain how many folks in the agriculture community are re-thinking the industrial model of farming that relies heavily on artificial fertilizers. They’re finding that planting cover crops, minimizing soil disruption, and regular rotations of nitrogen-fixing crops builds soil-based carbon. Carbon-rich soil is healthier and more productive, and the CO2 in that atmospheric bathtub is reduced.
“Technologically, Carbon Capture and Storage as well as Direct Air Capture techniques are being developed. We’ll learn about them another time,” Ima promised. “For now, get your fingers in the dirt and plant a tree. You can help re-balance this planetary home where we’re forever… Earthbound.”