A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Were the ancient Maya an agricultural cautionary tale? Maybe not, new study suggests

Credit: The researchers surveyed an area in the Western Maya Lowlands near today's border between Mexico and Guatemala; Andrew Scherer/Brown University

Maya had extensive systems of sophisticated irrigation and terracing

For years, climate scientists and ecologists have held up the agricultural practices of the ancient Maya as prime examples of what not to do.

"There's a narrative that depicts the Maya as people who engaged in unchecked agricultural development," said Andrew Scherer, an anthropologist at Brown University. "The narrative goes: The population grew too large, the agriculture scaled up, and then everything fell apart."

But a U.S. National Science Foundation-supported study, co-authored by Scherer and others, suggests that narrative doesn't tell the full story.

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Does an ally against climate change lie beneath our feet?

Soil test: An agronomist takes notes in the field. Environmental protection, organic soil certification, research © FCC AQUALIA SA

By enhancing soil's ability to store carbon, the ground we walk on could play an essential role in keeping carbon dioxide out of the air.

If we're going to fight the effects of climate change, we're going to have to get our hands dirty.

'With a huge potential to act as a carbon sink, the soil that sits right under our feet could be at the front lines of climate change,' said Dr Dragutin Protic, CEO of GILab, a company dedicated to developing solutions based on ICT and geoinformatics.

A carbon sink is a reservoir capable of accumulating and storing carbon for an indefinite period. In doing so, it lowers the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere.

According to Dr Protic, who cited some recent scientific research, soil has the potential to remove an estimated 1.09 gigatonnes of CO2 per year.

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