Big money is pouring into ‘carbon farming.’ But can it help mitigate climate change?

As efforts to wean society off fossil fuels have stalled, “natural climate solutions” such as soil carbon sequestration have rapidly gained steam. Millions of dollars are now pouring into soil-climate initiatives from corporations like Microsoft and General Mills, philanthropists like Leonardo DiCaprio, and governments large and small.

But, as Gabriel Popkin reports in FERN’s latest story, published with Yale Environment 360, “a growing number of scientists worry that mounting societal pressure to do something to counter climate change is pushing money into so-called carbon farming before the science needed to underpin it is mature. New studies reveal that even long-accepted carbon sequestration practices may not yield hoped-for climate benefits.”

As Popkin explains, even some supporters want to rein in the hype. “We’re in a period of carbon exuberance,” says Philip Taylor, an ecologist and co-founder of the Boulder-based regenerative agriculture organization Mad Agriculture. “Society’s hope and wish that agriculture will solve climate change is overstated.”