09 Apr Blog Post #1 — Wasted Carbon
What if I told you people were throwing gold in the garbage? You would probably be pretty surprised, and you would probably think whoever dumped it there was foolish. Now imagine this, thousands of tons of raw materials are being dumped into landfills that are just as valuable or even more valuable than gold.
Everyday, thousands of tons of valuable raw materials are dumped into landfills that should never end up there. Now let’s talk about one of them, soil carbon. This includes food waste, yard waste, sewage sludge, and anything else that degrades into soil.
Now those that have studied biology know that our world is covered in carbon. Our bodies are made out of carbon. If you have read the news or study the climate you have probably heard that we have too much carbon in the atmosphere and too much carbon in the oceans. The key to carbon is making sure that the carbon cycle is constantly moving with not too much in any one pool.
The carbon pool options are: atmospheric carbon, water carbon, soil carbon, and fossil carbon. At the moment, we have taken a lot of the fossil carbon and pumped it into the air to power our cars and factories. A significant amount of that carbon has been absorbed by the oceans.
Our soil carbon is usually key to balancing this equation through growing plants that photosynthesize and take the carbon out of the atmosphere. However, we have lost much of our soil carbon through tillage, deforestation, and thinking soil is just “dirt.” This is a problem, because the soil carbon cycle is key for regulating the global carbon cycle and also for feeding animals— including humans. We are in a soil crisis. Experts believe we have 60 years of good farming left.
We are at a tipping point we do not want to cross. It is not just farming that is effected. Loss of soil carbon leads to inadequate water retention, so more floods, fire, and mudslides. Soil also cleans our water so that our fresh water bodies stay safe to drink. A world without soil carbon is a tough world to survive in, and certainly not enjoyable.
Think back to what I said earlier – why are we throwing soil carbon in to landfills? I bet it is not because we love the smell of methane. No, we throw it in landfills because we think it is garbage, we forget that instead it can be BLACK GOLD. Black gold is the building block of humus – an essential component of soil health (and a topic I intend to discuss in detail in my next blog post). If you hear a farmer or gardener has black gold soil then you bet they have healthy produce.
It is as easy as this. We need to understand that food waste and other biodegradable waste is essential to balancing the carbon cycle. We are constantly losing soil carbon, and instead of replacing it, we are throwing these resources into landfills and dealing with the stench.