Urban Soil and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

by Vins

In February of 2016 Kira Jastive writing for Boston University Public Relations published “Urban Soils Release Surprising Amounts of Carbon Dioxide.” Jastive’s article focused on how new information insinuates that urban soil is releasing carbon dioxide, or CO2 into the atmosphere. The topic of urban soil, and the lack of recognition of its CO2 emission, is important because plans to reduce emissions in the future will not yield a favorable outcome unless we know exactly where the chemical is coming from. Since April of 2015, the corporate press has ignored story of “Urban Soils Release Surprising Amounts of Carbon Dioxide.”

Jastive’s article focused on the topic of how urban soil is releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. According to Jastive, in the areas surrounding Boston the level of carbon dioxide emitted from the soil rivals the amount emitted from cars and other fossil flues. While one might think that the suburbs of a city would have less carbon dioxide emissions because of the lack of dense traffic, the core and outskirts are actually similar in CO2 levels because of the soil . The lack if knowledge about the subject is dangerous because people are not putting the soil into consideration when collecting fossil fuel information. This is a problem because if one assumes that the emissions are only coming from cars and what not, then when you make a plan for, let’s say, more public transportation and cleaner cars, and nothing for the soil, you will not have the lower levels of CO2 that you “should” have. The interesting thing about the article is that it is not a call to change people’s gardening habits. All Jastive wants is for people to be aware of this issue, and to plan and act accordingly.

The topic of urban soil and its release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not important because the majority of people do not know of it, but because future environmental policies will overlook the issue. Urban soil makes up about 75% of its area’s CO2 emissions, and sometimes it is more than fossil fuels . Jastive goes on to include that there is a connection between how much carbon dioxide is emitted and how much “attention” the soil gets from humans. Generally, the more the soil is treated, the more CO2 is emitted. Associate Professor of Biology of Boston University Pamela Templer says “When people mulch their landscaped areas or fertilize their lawns, they’re putting out yummy fresh highly decomposable carbon that soil microbes can use… and that’s stimulating microbial growth and loss of CO2 out of these urban soils.” This new information is important because now officials can create a working plan to reduce emissions, because if they don’t know what is causing them, how can they lower the levels?

There has been some coverage of this story in the Independent media, however not much. Only a few scientific journals, including Grist science, and Eurek Alert, published the article on their websites. There has been no coverage of soil releasing carbon dioxide in corporate media.

In the article “Urban Soils Release Surprising Amounts of Carbon Dioxide”, written by Kira Jastive for Boston University Public Relations, it discusses how soil in urbanized areas is releasing CO2. However, that is not the only problem. The emissions are not being taken into consideration and because of that, future plans to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will not work as planned, because the policy makers do not know where the chemical is coming from. People do not think that something like dirt can contribute to a huge and very real issue like global warming, which is why it is so important that this issue gets more coverage.


Jastive, Kira. “Urban Soils Release Surprising Amounts of Carbon Dioxide.”Boston University Public Relations. Boston University, 23 Feb. 2016, http://www.bu.edu/news/2016/02/23/urban-soils-release-surprising-amounts-of-carbon-dioxide/.

Student Researcher: Sarah Powell (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)