Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forestry and Environmental Conservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Elena Mikhailova

Committee Member

Christopher Post

Committee Member

Mark Schlautman


Many climate change “solution” plans include net-zero goals, which involve balancing the anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) with their removal. Achieving net-zero goals is particularly problematic for soils because they are often excluded from GHG inventories and reduction plans. For example, Maryland’s Climate Solutions Now Act (Senate Bill 528) put forward a target of net-zero emissions by 2045. To achieve these goals, the state of Maryland (MD) needs to quantify GHG emissions. Soils are currently excluded from MD’s GHG assessments. This study examines the challenges in meeting net-zero goals by using carbon dioxide (CO2). The current study quantified the “realized” social costs of CO2 (SC-CO2) emissions for MD from new land developments in the period from 2001 to 2016, which caused a complete loss of 2.2 × 109 kg of total soil carbon (TSC), resulting in $383.8 (where M = million). All MD’s counties experienced land developments with various emissions and SC-CO2 monetary values. Soils of MD are limited in recarbonization capacity because of highly leached soils, the increase of developed areas, and sea-level rise.These losses will generate additional social costs because of migration, costs of relocation, and damages to infrastructure. Net-zero targets are important, but meeting these targets without specific and integrative approaches depending on the source and type of emissions may result in failure. These approaches should also focus on the social costs of emissions, which raises the need for a new concept of net-zero emissions and social costs.

Included in

Soil Science Commons



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