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Soil and survival
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Author:  Dingo [ Sun Jun 02, 2013 7:08 am ]
Post subject:  Soil and survival

It seems like our topsoil should be getting more attention or are we going to get all our calories from algae ponds and nutritious bacteria and fungi. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/01

“While soil is invisible to most people it provides an estimated 1.5 to 13 trillion dollars in ecosystem services annually,” Glover said at the Soil Carbon Sequestration conference that ended this week.

The dirt beneath our feet is a nearly magical world filled with tiny, wondrous creatures. A mere handful of soil might contain a half million different species including ants, earthworms, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms. Soil provides nearly all of our food – only one percent of our calories come from the oceans, she said.

Soil also gives life to all of the world’s plants that supply us with much of our oxygen, another important ecosystem service. Soil cleans water, keeps contaminants out of streams and lakes, and prevents flooding. Soil can also absorb huge amounts of carbon, second only to the oceans.

"It takes half a millennia to build two centimetres of living soil and only seconds to destroy it,” Glover said.

Each year, 12 million hectares of land, where 20 million tonnes of grain could have been grown, are lost to land degradation. In the past 40 years, 30 percent of the planet’s arable (food-producing) land has become unproductive due to erosion. Unless this trend is reversed soon, feeding the world’s growing population will be impossible.

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Soil and survival

Reminds me of the old myth about the lemmings except with people.

Author:  Johhny Electriglide [ Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Soil and survival

Wayne Stollings wrote:
Reminds me of the old myth about the lemmings except with people.

Soil depletion is not a myth, Wayne. Erosion is only part of it, and depth is only a partial indicator of true soil health but right now there is less than 2/3 the average depth of 1910 studies. Soil organic loss to nothing is in very large areas, and reduction from healthy percentage in many more. Soil has been lost to citification, salinization from salty river water over time, sterilization by insecticides and herbicides which have killed off the necessary worms, grubs, bacteria and fungi of good soil. Many places can only grow less nutritious foods through addition of petro-chemical fertilizers. Of course heavy machinery farming also requires depleting dirty fossil fuels, along with the distribution system.
In the fact of decreasing returns from increasing petro-chemical fertilizers the runoff has become the source of estuary dead zones.
AGW along with many years of non-fallowing intensive farming have led to a lot of soil loss through desertification.
Rivers used until they are dry and the same with many aquifers like our own Ogallala gone before 2040 according to the USGS. It should be noted that irrigation of the average crop increases yields 600%.
There are thresholds with many plants on when they just will not grow, whether it is less than several inches of soil, too much salt, lack of certain nutrients, the vector is toward just pockets of good soil like oases, in areas not yet hit by AGW or what will come beyond that.
Soil loss from all causes will lead to less yields. Add in AGW effects, loss of cheap energy, and loss of good water. It does not look good after 2040. Some may behave like lemmings if the alternative is worse, like those poor souls who jumped off the WTC on 9-11 rather than burn to death. Lack of water certainly causes madness, and lack of food drives many to cannibalism.
People have fought wars really over resources, and in wars/political unrest people have been lined up in front of long trenches and mass buried after being executed for existing.

Author:  Wayne Stollings [ Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Soil and survival

Johhny Electriglide wrote:
Wayne Stollings wrote:
Reminds me of the old myth about the lemmings except with people.

Soil depletion is not a myth, Wayne.

No, but the post that previously preceded mine made the connection, unfortunately they tried to spam and all of the posts were removed in the process.

Author:  Johhny Electriglide [ Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Soil and survival

It is unfortunate that many people, spammers in particular, have their highest and best use as red worm compost ingredients. :mrgreen:

Author:  Johhny Electriglide [ Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Soil and survival

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Peak-Wa ... l_IPS.html

Because AGW is such a time restricted problem, that we need to reduce emissions 90% within a decade, it is at the top of the list.
However, I did a soil study in 1995 which corroborates everything in the article. I never figured out "peak soil", except to know that by 1995 the world soil study done in 1910 showed an average of 15" of soil and we were at, then, an average of 5". That was only part of it, so much soil was depleting in other ways, too. I calculated that business as usual would have the planet out of all but "oases" of arable land by 2140. However, by 2050, soil degradation will lower crop yields 10 to 20% in its part of the overall decline in yields of 35-50%.
It is probably one of the easier human problems to correct faster than nature. Large scale composting and a complete change in how we take care of our organic wastes and even dead bodies is needed to compost and rebuild the world's soils.
I think it was Chief Seattle who said "we walk on the faces of future generations."
Great article and we must always realize that we need healthy soil, air, water, and climate to survive and for those in the future to survive. We also need a wide variety of healthy ecosystems to survive. Ignorance of these things is also one of mankind's biggest problems.

http://dieoff.org/_Systems/PopulationCr ... entury.pdf

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