Agriculture a Large, Overlooked Source of Greenhouse Emissions

"Agriculture has historically released almost as much carbon into the atmosphere as deforestation, a new study suggests — and that’s saying something.

In a paper published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that land use changes associated with planting crops and grazing livestock have caused a loss of 133 billion tons of carbon from soil worldwide over the last 12,000 years, amounting to about 13 years of global emissions at their current levels. And at least half of those losses have probably occurred in the last few centuries.

“Historically, I think we’ve underestimated the amount of emissions from soils due to land use change,” said lead study author Jonathan Sanderman, an associate scientist with the Woods Hole Research Center, a climate change research organization based in Massachusetts."

Chelsea Harvey reports for the Washington Post August 23, 2017.

Source: Washington Post, 08/25/2017