A short proposal for a fully featured Atlas of biological work, an expansion of the Map of Soil Carbon Change.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Wendell Berry, writing on health and agriculture, noted that fragmentation "cannot be our cure, because it is our disease." Competition between major problems, and competition between solutions to these problems, renders effective action largely elusive for individuals, groups, and governments, even with trillions spent. Governments and individuals feel powerless. Enormous energy goes into blame. Our trust in expert solutions, or in anybody's solutions, vanishes overnight.
We need major changes, both locally and globally, in the huge flows of water, carbon, and nitrogen through soils and atmosphere. These changes will require an enormous amount of work (force times distance, or force against resistance).
We are in some early stages of a Copernican shift, beginning from the view that our technology is all-powerful, and nature correspondingly vulnerable or dominated. Faced with the inability of our technology--currently powered at about 16 trillion watts worldwide---to accomplish the needed work and to grow or maintain the needed soil aggregates, some innovative graziers, farmers, and scientists have glimpsed and even explored the opportunity to better manage, enlist, and enhance the sunlight energy captured by photosynthesis. Globally, photosynthesis runs at about 130 trillion watts, the terrestrial half of which is multiplied dozens of times by life's diversity and abundance, creating topsoil, soil cover, and the carbon-rich soil aggregates that accept, retain, and filter water.
Even when we recognize at some level the need to manage wholes, to work toward what we want and need, our best-trod paths of knowing and doing sabotage our efforts. We have an almost complete absence of open and accessible data about localized, farm-scale changes over time in water, carbon, or nitrogen cycle function that could show us what might be practical and possible. Instead we depend on research to establish best or worst practices. We spend enormous sums on prediction, modeling, mapping and data systems focusing on classifications of land cover, problems, or species---all of which perpetuate our tendency to problem-solve, to manage against what we don't want. The problems have the power, producing a cacophony of perverse incentives, competing advocacies, solutioneering, and fragmentation.