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  • Young Climate Warriors

Carbon sinks? ... the power of soil and seeds...

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow.” Frances Hodgson Burnett,'The Secret Garden'. 

This half-term, can you find an old pot or a patch in the garden to grow your own seeds – some yummy vegetables to eat, colourful marigolds or sunflowers, or maybe even plant a new tree? (Please don’t forget to ask your parent/ carer before you start digging.)

Did you know that your garden contains two out of three of Planet Earth’s most powerful natural defences against climate change? Can you guess what they are? … PLANTS AND SOIL – the third is the OCEAN. These ‘carbon sinks,’ absorb Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere – they ‘store’ carbon.

But how do they ‘store’ carbon? Plants soak up Carbon Dioxide to make food for themselves using the sun’s energy (a process known as photosynthesis), trapping it in their trunks, branches, roots and leaves. The excess carbon dioxide that they absorb goes down through their roots and feeds organisms that live in the soil. Carbon from the roots and leaves of dying plants is also captured in the soil.

In order to reach the target of 'net zero' emissions by 2045 (or preferably sooner) we need to REDUCE the amount of carbon we emit into the atmosphere but ALSO need to INCREASE the amount of carbon we ‘store’.

Your challenge this half-term is to grow any plant you choose and ‘store’ some carbon in your garden or in a windowsill pot! If you choose to plant some vegetables in your garden or pot, you’ll also have something yummy to eat that won’t need to be transported by trucks or planes to reach your plate!

When you have planted your seeds or seedlings... remember to HIT THE RED BUTTON!

If you need to buy compost to grow your plant, try to find some that is peat-free, as keeping peat in the ground is really important to tackling climate change.

If you have your own compost heap maybe you could see if it is ready to be spread on your garden – applying compost or manure to your soil enables it to store even more carbon.

The concept of 'net zero' is explained in this short CAFOD children's animation.


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