What is nature, how does it work, and why? The physicist Werner Heisenberg, one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics, wrote: "What we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."
So our questions are key to the understandings we construct. Much ecological monitoring has and continues to be surveillance: categorizing species and practices in terms of compliance with rule-based systems of policy and regulation, resulting in one-way information pipelines. Since I began the Soil Carbon Challenge in 2010, I wanted to ask different questions: when, where, and with whom are the opportunities for slowing carbon and water cycling?
A shift is possible, from surveillance and compliance monitoring toward a participatory, evidence-based, localized, shared understanding of carbon cycling, water cycling, and even local economics—if we can ask better questions, and engage more people in asking and answering. This calls for a different design, with implications for diversity and power.
I will be doing an online showcase and discussion of soilhealth.app. The session is on Wednesday, January 20 (7 am U.S. Pacific time, UTC-8) and you can sign up here. If you are engaged in a local or regional effort of regeneration or restoration, this app has been designed to support your work, customizable to your local needs.
Soil Carbon Coalition is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization