VOICES: The Roots of Climate Change

Human-caused climate change started not only with burning fossil fuels but with our exploitation of the Earths’ soil. Indigenous societies, many with sophisticated agricultural systems structured around knowledge of environmental limits, were often violently displaced from their land or forced to accept European farming models. As colonialism and extractive practices spread globally, land was, for the first time, exposed to the plow. After just a few decades of intense tillage by plowing, 50% of the original organic matter in the planet’s soil was oxidized and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.