By David Perry
We have a trillion-ton problem, which cannot be addressed by the photosynthesis of a single plant. But when it comes to agriculture, we are not talking about one plant – we are talking about tens of thousands of plants per acre, and 3.6 billion acres of farmland worldwide.
Today, agriculture is a major contributor to challenges facing our environment: land degradation, aquifer depletion, nitrogen runoff and greenhouse gas emissions, to name a few. These challenges are contributing to changing the composition of our atmosphere. Last month, scientists recorded the highest concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide in human history: 415 parts per million (ppm). That represents an increase of 135 ppm since the start of the industrial revolution. Multiplied by the total volume of the atmosphere, 135 ppm is equal to one trillion tons – or a teraton – of carbon dioxide increase over the past 200 years.