Despite soil’s vital ecological importance, its significance as a
belowground tridimensional living world remains under-theorized in social
and cultural research. Drawing on the reading of scientific literature and a
series of interviews with scientists working at the juncture of soil and climate
research, this article pursues a picture that highlights soil’s capacities to shape
future climates, including by fostering major planetary tipping points; we
elaborate on the cultural and ethical significance of that picture for opening
up alternative stories in which agency and change are not human-only prerogatives.
We develop a critical stance on the growing expectations of storing
more carbon into soils and argue for a better consideration of the situated,
heterogeneous, and volatile dynamics of carbon within soils. We eventually
call for more responsible ways of thinking about, and caring for, the myriad
conglomerates of living, decaying, and dead matter that basically make up
the stuff of soil.