Roughly speaking, there is 3000 billion tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere. This is a huge number, but then we have to remember that this is higher than at any other time in human history. Before humans were on the planet, there were time periods where carbon concentrations in the atmosphere were dramatically higher.
However, the problem is that there is thought to be roughly 1600 billion tonnes locked in the permafrost around the world. If global warming continues, this permafrost will melt and release its carbon stores – increasing the carbon concentration by around 50%.
This is obviously a point at which a significant amount of planet warming will be inescapable.
So what needs to happen?
In the past great mammals behaved in such ways that it largely kept this carbon locked in the soil. There were far fewer trees, vast grasslands often covering bogs.
If mammoths were to return, perhaps alongside woolly rhinoceros and bison the same processes could return allowing a far greater quantity of carbon to remain in the permafrost soil.
Will this happen? Who knows, though with the increasing quantity of carbon known to be locked in the Siberian soil, it seems worth giving it a go.