Friday, August 07, 2015

 Soil as a Sink for Carbon

The sequestration of carbon in Earth’s soil as a means to mitigate the carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere.

Judith D. Schwartz - Yale Environment 360- 04 Mar 2014: Analysis

“Through photosynthesis, a plant draws carbon out of the air to form carbon compounds. What the plant doesn’t need for growth is exuded through the roots to feed soil organisms, whereby the carbon is humified, or rendered stable. "

"Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its water-retention capacity, its structure, and its fertility.”

“An important vehicle for moving carbon into soil is root, or mycorrhizal, fungi, which govern the give-and-take between plants and soil. According to Australian soil scientist Christine Jones, plants with mycorrhizal connections can transfer up to 15 percent more carbon to soil than their non-mycorrhizal counterparts. The most common mycorrhizal fungi are marked by threadlike filaments called hyphae that extend the reach of a plant, increasing access to nutrients and water. These hyphae are coated with a sticky substance called glomalin, discovered only in 1996, which is instrumental in soil structure and carbon storage." 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises land managers to protect glomalin by minimizing tillage and chemical inputs and using cover crops to keep living roots in the soil.”

                     bolstering soil microbiology by adding beneficial microbes to stimulate the soil cycles where they have         been interrupted by use of insecticides, herbicides, or fertilizers
        When we have erosion, we lose soil, which carries with it organic carbon, into waterways.

     When soil is exposed, it oxidizes, essentially burning the soil carbon.
          bringing carbon back into soils has to be done not only to offset fossil fuels, but also to     feed our growing      global population. "We cannot feed people if soil is degraded,"
       The top priorities are restoring degraded and eroded lands, as well as avoiding deforestation and the            farming of peatlands, which are a major reservoir of carbon and are easily decomposed upon drainage         and cultivation.
         Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing               atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought.

Physical Science and the state of matter in the universe

Soil Project Learning Goals

Soil composition, function and vitalityResearch and Analysis

·             Soil ability to hold water
     Soil ability to transfer water
    Soil nutrients
   Soil containing different amounts of air space
   Soil density
                 Soil humas

Soil Project Objectives

1.      Describe the physical nature and composition of soil

2.      Recognize that soils can vary in their composition

3.      Describe where soil nutrients come from and its chemistry

4.      Understand that soil is living and dynamic

5.      Recognize plants role in taking up nutrients from soil

6.      Appreciate the carbon cycle and its influence upon the vitality of soil

7.      Understand soil’s role in the sources-to-sink energy cycle in nature

Describe, recognize, understand and appreciate: Project-based research learning goals

Soil Project information resource link:

Energy as a Source

Scientific investigation into the production of nonpolluting and renewable sources of energy.  Inquiry into the transfer of renewable sources of energy into electricity, light, heat and work.

The destruction of renewable resources within the planetary ecosystems is a result of human activities that in many ways is the consequence of arrogant disrespect for nature and doing so for the sole purpose of material distraction and fleeting satisfaction.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, published in 2004, commissioned by the United Nations to analyze the state of the global environment, and worked on by over 1300 scientists world-wide, reflect their findings in the published statement presented below.
“Human activities is putting such a strain on the actual functions of the Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystem to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”

Listed below are some of these consequences that humanity faces as a result of burning nonrenewable fossil fuels as a prime source of energy.  This unsustainable consumption of nonrenewable resources are producing threats to our food supplies, causing soil degradation, changing weather patterns, causing the overuse of renewable resources (overshoot), diminishing access to fresh water, creating loss of planetary biodiversity, collapsing aquatic ecosystems,  increasing disease, raising the level of the oceans along with its acidification, melting of the world’s glaciers that provide fresh water for multi-millions  of people and the now constant threat of drought and unimaginable wild fires crossing the landscape.

Through knowledge, research, a caring attitude and common sense students can begin to complete the scientific inquiry necessary to become stewards of our planet.  The study of physics, chemistry and biology provide students with the basic understanding to be inquisitive, ask questions, study energy producing systems and become problem solvers.

 The study of alternative sources of energy, to meet the physical needs of billions of people on the planet, is the big challenge facing humanity in the 21st century.  Students in physical science and physics classes have the opportunity to contribute their abilities, skills and understand to help solve this problem. Working to produce a sustainable future, while helping to save our only planet, is the noble calling for the 21st century. 

Students immersed in project-based models of learning are motivated and engaged in the rigor and the relevance of developing environmentally sustainable solutions to these complex and cross-disciplinary issues.  They explore, investigate, experiment and implement solutions related to the issue of developing renewable sources of energy and ultimately the efficient transformation of these sources to meet the needs of our societies.