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A University of Alberta researcher collects a soil sample from Arctic permafrost. University of Alberta

Can the past predict the future?

In the case of communities of microbes living in the Arctic permafrost, researchers at the University of Alberta think it might. The scientists discovered that the microbes and chemistry of Arctic soil changed dramatically following the end of the last Ice Age, and the same thing could happen again due to the climate crisis.

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From raising livestock to growing vegetables, farmers help put food on our plates. But agriculture also creates emissions that warm the climate. And the most warming is caused by nitrous oxide, an especially potent global warming gas.

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By Douglas Broom

"Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people," said former U.S. president, Franklin Roosevelt.

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Aerial view of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, where a new soil study was held, on Sept. 11, 2019. LUIS ACOSTA / AFP via Getty Images

One of the concerns about a warming planet is the feedback loop that will emerge. That is, as the planet warms, it will melt permafrost, which will release trapped carbon and lead to more warming and more melting. Now, a new study has shown that the feedback loop won't only happen in the nether regions of the north and south, but in the tropics as well, according to a new paper in Nature.

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A resident works in the vegetable garden of the Favela Nova Esperanca – a "green favela" which reuses everything and is subject to the ethics of permaculture – in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Feb. 14, 2020. NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP via Getty Images

Farmers are the stewards of our planet's precious soil, one of the least understood and untapped defenses against climate change. Because of its massive potential to store carbon and foundational role in growing our food supply, soil makes farming a solution for both climate change and food security.

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Smoke rises above wrecked buildings following a deadly explosion on Aug. 4, 2020 in Beirut, Lebanon. Marwan Tahtah / Getty Images

By Alexander Freund

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab says he believes Tuesday's explosion in Beirut could have been caused by large quantities of ammonium nitrate stored in the port.

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Local women water newly planted saxaul in the desert at Mingqin county on March 27th, 2019 in Wuwei, Gansu Province, China. The trees were planted as part of Ant Forest, a green initiative on the Alipay app. Wang HE / Getty Images

By Harry Kretchmer

Since its launch in 2016, over half a billion people have used Ant Forest to convert lower-carbon activities such as using public transport into real trees.

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A truck spreads lime on a meadow to increase the soil's fertility in Yorkshire Dales, UK. Farm Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As we look for advanced technology to replace our dependence on fossil fuels and to rid the oceans of plastic, one solution to the climate crisis might simply be found in rocks. New research found that dispersing rock dust over farmland could suck billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed large scale analysis of the technique, as The Guardian reported.

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Plant pathologist Carolee Bull works in her home garden in State College, Pennsylvania. Carolee Bull, CC BY-ND

By Matt Kasson, Brian Lovett and Carolee Bull

Home gardening is having a boom year across the U.S. Whether they're growing their own food in response to pandemic shortages or just looking for a diversion, numerous aspiring gardeners have constructed their first raised beds, and seeds are flying off suppliers' shelves. Now that gardens are largely planted, much of the work for the next several months revolves around keeping them healthy.

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Rattan Lal, distinguished university professor of soil science at The Ohio State University, speaks at an IFPRI policy seminar, "Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement," on Dec. 3, 2015. IFPRI / Milo Mitchell

The demands of feeding a planet rapidly careening toward 10 billion people, coupled with the environmental degradation that industry and development has caused, has left much of the world's soil depleted of nutrients. A professor who studies soil science and is looking to improve the dirt for farmers around the world has been awarded the 2020 World Food Prize for his work, as NPR reported.

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A bushfire burns outside the Perth Cricket Stadium in Perth, Australia on Dec. 13, 2019. PETER PARKS / AFP via Getty Images

By Albert Van Dijk, Luigi Renzullo, Marta Yebra and Shoshana Rapley

2019 was the year Australians confronted the fact that a healthy environment is more than just a pretty waterfall in a national park; a nice extra we can do without. We do not survive without air to breathe, water to drink, soil to grow food and weather we can cope with.

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Islandic Horses walk around grazing and trampling over snow. A new study found that herds of horses, bison and reindeer could be used to fight off the melting of the permafrost in the Arctic. Susanne Stöckli / Pixabay

Arctic winters are meant to be frigid, but because of rising temperatures and climate change, they aren't cold enough. The permafrost, the thick subsurface layer of frozen soil that stores one of the world's largest natural reserves of carbon, is thawing. As it does, it releases potent greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. European scientists have now found that resettling massive herds of large herbivores could combat this effect and save up to 80 percent of all permafrost soils around the globe until 2100.

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A tractor pressed deep tracks in the soil after heavy rainfall in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on March 6, 2020. New research emphasizes the value of leaving existing healthy soils alone. Jens Büttner / picture alliance via Getty Images

Restoring and protecting the world's soil could remove the equivalent of the U.S.'s annual greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.

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