The Answer Is Dirt

No, not the 2008 campaign. Charles Mann is worried about the world's soil. Adding charcoal to it might increase its fertility - and even have potential for arresting climate change:

Heavily plowed soil releases carbon dioxide as it exposes once buried organic matter. Sombroek argued that creating terra preta [rich, fertile soil] around the world would use so much carbon-rich charcoal that it could more than offset the release of soil carbon into the atmosphere. According to William I. Woods, a geographer and soil scientist at the University of Kansas, charcoal-rich terra preta has 10 or 20 times more carbon than typical tropical soils, and the carbon can be buried much deeper down. Rough calculations show that "the amount of carbon we can put into the soil is staggering," Woods says. Last year Cornell University soil scientist Johannes Lehmann estimated in Nature that simply converting residues from commercial forestry, fallow farm fields, and annual crops to charcoal could compensate for about a third of U.S. fossil-fuel emissions. Indeed, Lehmann and two colleagues have argued that humankind's use of fossil fuels worldwide could be wholly offset by storing carbon in terra preta nova.