To me, in the long run, the final arbiter / accountancy / measure of sustainability will be soil carbon content. Once this royal road is constructed, traffic cops (Carbon Board) in place, the truth of land management and Biochar systems will be self-evident.
A dream I've had for years is to base the coming carbon economy firmly on the foundation of top soils. My read of the agronomic history of civilization shows that the Kayopo Amazon Indians and the Egyptians were the only ones to maintain fertility for the long haul, millennium scales. Egypt has now forsaken their geologic advantage by building the Aswan dam, and are stuck, with the rest of us, in the soil C mining, NPK rat race to the bottom. The meta-analysis of Syn-N and soil Carbon content show our dilemma;
The Ag Soil Carbon standard is in final review by the AMS branch at USDA.
Read over the work ;
With the Obama administration funding an inter-departmental climate effort of NASA, NOAA, USDA, & EPA, and now even the CIA is opening the data coffers, then soil carbon sensors may be less than 5 years away. I'm told by the Jet Propulsion Lab mission specialists responsible for the suite of earth sensing satellites, that they will be reading soil carbon using multiple proxy measurements in 5 years. Reading soil moisture to 3 foot dept in two year with SMAP, Reading GHG emissions and biomass from the tree tops down next year when the Orbital Carbon Observer (OCO, get it:) is rebooted, to 1 Ha resolution.
Then, any farmer can click "Google Carbon maps" to see the soil carbon accounted to his good work, a level playing field to be a soil sink banker.
Since we have filled the air, filling the seas to full, soil is the only beneficial place left. Carbon to the soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.
WorldStoves in Haiti ; http://www.charcoalproject.org/2010/05/a-man-a-stove-a-mission/ and
The Biochar Fund http://biocharfund.org/ deserves your attention and support.
Exceptional results from biochar experiment in Cameroon
US BiocharConference 2010, Iowa State University, June 27-30 , Presentations & Papers;