The sequestration numbers are impressive, for instance Lal of Ohio State says "that restoring soils of degraded and desertified ecosystems has the potential to store an additional 1 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon annually, equivalent to roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions. (Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning are roughly 32 billion tons.)
Lai's use of 'additional' refers to the much larger potential of sequestration rates of grasslands generally along with other proven practices: composting, no-till farming, climate-friendly livestock practices ['let the buffalo roam'], restoring degraded watersheds and rangelands, increasing biodiversity, and producing local food. Ongoing multi-decade research conducted by Dr.Christine Jones of The Soil Carbon Coalition is showing an average of 33 tonnes CO2 per hectare per year sequestered through the re-introduction of native perennial plants.
The closer science looks at soil biology, the less it knows - so there's hope. According to the research published in Nature in January by scientists from the University of Texas at Austin, fungi stored 70 percent more carbon per unit of nitrogen in soil than bacteria which fart out over half of the carbon they consume meaning that our 'models', based on the life-cycles of micro organisms are badly underestimating the real situation.
Lead author Colin Averill explains "that the fungi take up organic nitrogen on behalf of the plant, out-competing soil microorganisms that decompose organic matter and release carbon. He says this points to soil biology as a driver of carbon storage, particularly "the mechanisms by which carbon can stay in the ground rather than going into the atmosphere."
Since Europeans arrived in N. America there's been a massive loss of soil carbon into the atmosphere. The same is true of all the world's grasslands and forests. If our descendants are to survive, we not only need to keep the remaining 3.2 trillion tons of carbon in the soil, where it is now (instead of allowing it to be released into the atmosphere as collateral damage from industrial agriculture), but we must also capture and sequester (through organic soil and land management) at least 100 billions tons of excess carbon that are currently over-saturating the atmosphere.
Of course, it's all a pipe dream in a world dominated by money not real wealth. In the meantime, awaiting the revolution, it gives me solace to know that the Great Mother abides regardless of our delusions. We could again be an ongoing partner in creation if, as Naomi Klein says, "We are really in a spiritual crisis. The idea of humans having a divine right to dominate the earth and being outside the community of living things and living systems is at the heart of the crisis.” Adding, "It does necessitate a new understanding — or an older understanding — of our role in the world. One that says, no, we were never free from nature, nor should we be." Without this spiritual revolution no other changes matter to our human destiny."
Change is good, "The pencil is mightier than the pen" as Robert Pirsig wrote, but change, though never easy, is inevitable. Change that leads away from current the stress filled chaos toward healthy, independent people who exercise their free will with empathy for all is a good thing. Free will when manifested as empathy in action makes happy people and...happy people would, it seems, choose to eat healthy plants or critters who ate happy plants, that themselves grew in happy soil, soil that helped clean the air, air who in turn helped clean the lungs and the thoughts of the previously unhappy and stressed out people. Change is good, free will is better still.