Soil regeneration is the theme of Prof. Karen Johnson’s opening talk in the 2021 Orkney International Science Festival. Since industrialisation, two-thirds of all global greenhouse gas emissions have come from fossil fuels. And remarkably, the other third has come from the land. The immense amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by green plants is far outweighed by the amount of the gas discharged by the soil, due to the continuing loss of its organic matter.
But, says Prof. Karen Johnson of Durham University, we can rebuild our soils, and boost the circular economy at the same time. We can reuse wastes as resources, returning organic matter to land and stabilising it with ‘waste’ minerals to build up stable stores of carbon in our land. Increasing carbon stores also means boosting flood and drought resilience, and so we can create economic opportunities for communities through soil regeneration. “A nation that rebuilds its soils rebuilds itself.”