Carbon (from Latin: carbo “coal”) is a chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent – making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds.
Most of us, though, know carbon as a common element to all known life. And, many of us will regard it as something we don’t want in the atmosphere, but rather something we want to lock away in soils, trees, and water – where it can support life instead of warming our atmosphere, causing detrimental climate change.
The paths of carbon in the environment form the carbon cycle. For example, photosynthetic plants draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (or seawater) and build it into biomass, as in the Calvin cycle, a process of carbon fixation. Some of this biomass is eaten by animals, while some carbon is exhaled by animals as carbon dioxide. The carbon cycle is considerably more complicated than this short loop; for example, some carbon dioxide is dissolved in the oceans; if bacteria do not consume it, dead plant or animal matter may become petroleum or coal, which releases carbon when burned.
Regenerative Agroforestry, widely applied, can be a promising climate adaptation and mitigation solution, transferring carbon from the atmosphere into soils, trees, and grasslands. Read more about it in our articles below.