The problem is the solution.
Hearing about carbon and the environment, many people think of atmospheric carbon as a green house gas. Right alongside that are all the long-term massive changes in the carbon cycle from fossil fuel extraction, processing, and use as fuels and plastics. Carbon is problematic, but it’s so much more. In fact it’s a lot of things, and it’s ubiquitous in life.
On Earth, all known living things have a carbon-based structure and system.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetical_types_of_biochemistry
Even fossil fuels contain this fact, that carbon is the building block of life. Fossil fuels are not inherently bad, they are just part of life systems, dead for millions of years only to be brought to life briefly for a fast flash then a slow decay. A decay of life systems themselves, a stumbling toward high entropy and climate chaos. How do we reign in the chaos, how do we lower entropy on Earth as Life overall seems inclined to do?
The complexities around fossil fuels, from geology to economics and ecology to justice, exist in full form only at scales (i.e. a hyperobject) that are hard for us to grapple with. It is how we interact with the the systems fossil fuels are a part of, to either degrade or regenerate those very living systems and life itself. Carbon can be the quickly-lost exhaust of burned billion-year-old oil, or it can be rich black organic matter that gets better with time, revitalizing soil that sustains us and all life on Earth.
We live at a time where there is widespread disturbance all around us. The ground is open and waiting for seeds. We can bemoan the tragedies that nature has endured or we can cast seeds and plant a future.Trees of Power by Akiva Silver of Twisted Tree Nursery near Ithaca, NY
We can and do influence the ecosystems around us more than any other species. That influence can come through reckless destruction, blind abandonment, or conscious intent.
Carbon’s role in life systems can give momentum to feedback loops of degradation or of restoration and regeneration. Carbon can serve a core role in feedback loops that produce goods in the present and get better over time: trees, soil, animals enjoying carbon while sequestering and storing it, all in mutual benefit enhancing the systems one and all exists in.
Enjoying carbon? Enjoying it as in making fulfilling, mutually beneficial use of it. And enjoying it while we still can, that is, considering how dire some environmental situations are becoming in large part due to imbalances in the carbon and other cycles. We need the tools to shift the carbon cycle into a more wholly beneficial setting. We know the tools: trees; carbon farming; regenerative, ecological lifestyles and landscapes. And we have the main building block of those tools, waiting to take f(x) one way or another: Carbon. For life systems, ecosystems; or for the degradation, destruction, and death of those systems?
For life systems, or for the death of those systems?
Where’s the carbon?
Is it regenerative or degenerative?
Is it diverse or a monoculture/monopoly?