Over the span of history, agricultural uses have released nearly as much carbon into the atmosphere as actual deforestation. New problem areas are still appearing in places like Brazil.
By depleting carbon stored in soil, agriculture has had a greater impact on the climate than previously supposed. According to a recent study, "land use changes associated with planting crops and grazing livestock have caused a loss of 133 billion tons of carbon from soil worldwide over the last 12,000 years, amounting to about 13 years of global emissions at their current levels."
Previous estimates, which were lower, relied on simple multiplication based on single-plot samples. This time, Chelsea Harvey writes, "the researchers were able to employ a large data set containing specific information on different soils from all around the world."
In places with "mature" agricultural economies, carbon losses from soil have been mitigated to a degree. "On a global scale, soil carbon losses have been speeding up since the industrial revolution, particularly in the 19th century. In the past 100 years, losses have tapered slightly, but still remain high, with the most significant emissions coming from new-world countries, such as Brazil, where large-scale agriculture is still expanding."
Harvey suggests that the study's findings could help pinpoint where sustainable land management techniques could do the most good, restoring carbon lost from soil to the ground.
Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject
Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.
Boston Introduces 'Maximum Parking Ratios' for Large Buildings
Large buildings with uses of all kinds will be subject to Boston's new "Maximum Parking Ratios."
5 Tips for Planning Safe Post-Pandemic Events
As community events start move off-screen and become available to the public again, here are five ways organizers can ensure public health and safety.
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Rowan University's Department of Geography, Planning, & Sustainability
City Of Oakland
Hillsborough County Public Schools
City of Raleigh
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.