When we inevitably run out of soil, what are we going to do? There are a number of articles I’ve written this month that show that the clock is running out for humanity. We are destroying the planet that we call home, and it is already experiencing mass extinctions. Our water is full of poisons, as is our air, as are our food and the things we eat. It gets worse over the course of the year. I have not discussed the loss of our topsoil recently. 95 percent of the food that we eat comes from the soil, and so if we have no soil, we have no food. This is a crisis that has been occurring for quite a while, and now we are close to a major crisis point.
The intensive farming techniques that have been used have resulted in a huge loss of topsoil as a result of the steadily climbing amount of land used for agriculture around the world.
But beneath the feet of Iowa’s farmers, a crisis is unfolding. The average topsoil depth in Iowa decreased from around 14-18 inches (35-45cm) at the start of the 20th Century to 6-8 inches (15-20cm) by its end. Relentless tilling and disturbance from farm vehicles have allowed wind and water to whisk away this priceless resource.
The same picture is seen on farms worldwide. Soils are becoming severely degraded due to a combination of intensive farming practices and natural processes. As the layer of fertile topsoil thins, it gets increasingly difficult to grow crops for food. Without altering agricultural practices and urgently finding ways to preserve soil, the global food supply starts to look precarious.
According to Time Magazine, “soil is being lost at between 10 and 40 times the rate at which it can be naturally replenished”, and the outlook for the future is extremely bleak.
This is not a new phenomenon in the United States. When Americans first arrived in the Midwest, there was a thick layer of dark topsoil to greet them.
What remains of the topsoil is often much lighter in color.
It is known as the soil that is the lightest in color. This layer is called the “A-horizon” by soil scientists. Evan Thaler is a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, and says that the black soil is good for growing crops.
The organic carbon in it is full of living organisms and decaying plant roots. It was created when settlers arrived in the Midwest from years of accumulated prairie grass. The trapped carbon was released and the topsoil lost due to wind and water erosion. The soil that’s left is often lighter in color.
I can remember vividly the thick, black soil I had to dig my hands into as a child.
The Midwest soil is vastly different today, and I would love to have the chance to experience that again.
In fact, it is being estimated that the Midwest has lost 57.6 billion metric tons of topsoil already…
Since farmers began tilling the land in the Midwest 160 years ago, 57.6 billion metric tons of topsoil have eroded, according to a study published recently in Earth’s Future. The loss has occurred despite conservation efforts implemented in the 1930s after the Dust Bowl, and the erosion rate is estimated to be double what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says is sustainable. Future crop production could be severely limited if it continues, reports Rachel Crowell for Science News.
“Future crop production could be severely limited” is a nice way of saying that everyone is going to starve if something doesn’t change.
Many people think that it will happen a long time away.
All of our topsoil could be gone within 60 years according to the UN.
Generating three centimeters of top soil takes 1,000 years, and if current rates of degradation continue all of the world’s top soil could be gone within 60 years, a senior UN official said on Friday.
About a third of the world’s soil has already been degraded, Maria-Helena Semedo of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) told a forum marking World Soil Day.
Maria-Helena Semedo actually made that statement back in 2014.
So we don’t have 60 years left.
If that projection is correct, we only have 52 years left until the whole topography is gone.
There are places in the world that have lost all of their topsoil, according to an expert who spoke to CNBC.
“There are places that have already lost all of their topsoil,” Jo Handelsman, author of “A World Without Soil,” and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told CNBC.
The impact of soil degradation could total $23 trillion in losses of food, ecosystem services and income worldwide by 2050, according to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
2050 is only 28 years away.
Global famines will inevitably arrive soon before we get to that point.
Our own behavior is actually making our land go away.
Billions of microplastics are flooding the world’s agricultural lands.
The amount of plastic that we produce is going to continue to increase at an exponential rate, meaning that the amount of microplastics raining down on our farms will continue to increase at an exponential rate.
It is difficult to grow a lot of anything as the plastic in the soil continues to go up.
It is important that you understand what is happening in this article because it is difficult to take in.
We are also facing an economic collapse.
It is actually the collapse of everything that we are facing.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the clock is running for humanity.
Unless there is a really dramatic event, we are headed into a future that is going to be far worse than most people would think.