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.