Soil and Climate Change
Although the earth’s climate has been slowly evolving over
millions of years, rapid changes have occurred in recent times
due to the activities of humans. Climate change is now recognised
as something which is affecting all our lives.
One of the biggest known causes of climate change has been the
burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil. These substances
release carbon dioxide and other gases, which build up in the atmosphere
and trap more of the sun’s energy. This is often called the ‘greenhouse’ effect,
and causes global warming, a condition which is resulting in temperatures
rising all over the world. Rainfall patterns are also changing,
with some regions becoming drier and others becoming wetter and
more vulnerable to flooding. At the same time, previously stable
patterns of climate become more unsettled with greater extremes.
Soil is a part of the natural world that is both affected by and
contributing to global warming. Soil is the one of the largest
sources of carbon in the world. It is primarily accumulated through
plants which ‘fix’ the carbon from carbon dioxide in
the air; the soil then directly absorbs the carbon as the plants
decay. Additionally, dead leaves and animals are broken down by
microbes in the soil and carbon is accumulated.