By Athena Tainio
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Acres U.S.A. original book, Farming in the Presence of Nature by Athena Tainio. Copyright 2017, softcover, 116 pages. Regular price: $18.00. SALE PRICE: $12.60.
The dark side of the story begins with the human race. Think of sequestered carbon as Gaia’s savings account, which she deposits and draws from as needed to keep her systems properly functioning. Man has depleted Gaia’s savings by extracting and burning massive amounts of fossil fuels, which has released CO2 and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere faster than Gaia can reabsorb them. The destruction of forests and wild grasslands (both large carbon sinks) to make way for roads, cities, suburbs, and agricultural land to support expanding human populations also releases sequestered carbon into the atmosphere and has greatly reduced Gaia’s carbon sequestration abilities.
At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory began tracking atmospheric CO2 in 1958, when the average CO2 level was approximately 310 parts per million (ppm). In less time than the average human lifespan, the atmospheric CO2 levels have climbed to over 400 ppm (Tans and Keeling).