The politics of soil carbon

Building soil organic matter on a large scale could reverse global warming, but it also has near-term, local benefits. These include better water cycling (fewer floods and droughts, more moderate and consistent streamflow, as well as better water quality), better mineral cycling (e.g. less nitrate pollution), increasing biodiversity above and below ground, an increase in the quantity as well as quality of human food, less reliance on chemical and fossil fuel inputs to agriculture, and greater self-sufficiency and economic independence of the agricultural sector.

Policy that encourages the formation of soil organic matter will be a winning solution for water, conservation, and utility districts as well as government at all levels. These continuing ecosystem services that are so valuable, and cost us millions when they fail, need to be included in our various local and regional economies as well as in national policy. Soil organic matter is measurable and supports and enhances all of these ecosystem services, as well as providing perhaps the only practical opportunity to reverse the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide within politically or socially relevant timelines.