Black is the New Green

Sequestration News Feature

In 1879, the explorer Herbert Smith regaled the readers of Scribner’s Monthly with tales of the Amazon, covering everything from the tastiness of tapirs to the extraordi- nary fecundity of the sugar plantations. “The cane-field itself,” he wrote of one rum-making operation, “is a splendid sight; the stalks ten feet high in many places, and as big as one’s wrist.” The secret, he went on, was “the rich terra preta, ‘black land’, the best on the Ama- zons. It is a fine, dark loam, a foot, and often two feet thick.”

Emma Marris

Nature Publishing Group, 2006