The rate at which this process occurs varies among ecosystems, and is subject to influence –both positively and negatively- by human agency. This process has been going on on planet Earth for about 3.5 billion years, with much of the planet’s carbon today sequestered in complex hydrocarbons we call fossil fuels, inorganic carbonates in rock and soils, or in solution in the world’s oceans.
When fossil fuels, whether oil, coal or gas, are burned (oxidized), most of that carbon ends up returning to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Because of anthropogenic activities that oxidize biomass, soil carbon and fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide has now reached concentrations higher than at any other time that Homo sapiens sapiens has walked the Earth.
Because increases in standing biomass tend to be viewed as a good thing (increased crop or timber production, for example), and increases in soil carbon tend to be associated with increased soil fertility, decreased soil erodibility; increased soil water holding capacity, and other desirable soil attributes, carbon sequestration in biomass and soils, also known as terrestrial carbon sequestration or biological carbon sequestration is recognized as broadly beneficial, while also contributing to climate change mitigation, resilience and, potentially, if scaled sufficiently across the globe, the reversal of global warming.
Thus, land management, including agriculture, generally regarded as responsible for upwards of one third of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today, has the potential to be a significant player in the reversal of global warming. Through the global implementation of strategies that accelerate the rate of carbon sequestration in managed ecosystems, land managers can help reverse the processes currently driving the world toward ecological catastrophe.
The term carbon sequestration has also been used to describe geoengineering techniques that focus on the removal of carbon dioxide from smokestack emissions and its burial or injection below ground. However, claims of permanence for these largely untested, expensive and potentially dangerous technologies place them in the realm of experimental carbon capture and removal, rather than carbon sequestration. " -Dr Jeff Creque