Have you begun your spring and summer gardening? What are you growing this year? Perhaps you are sowing the seeds of heirloom tomatoes or herbs to season your summer recipes or cultivating flower beds to please the eye and fragrance the yard. If so, then on Earth Day you might want to give some thought to soil.
In December of 2014, The American Scientific published an article that predicts the world’s topsoil could be gone in 60 years. This dire news was shared at a United Nations forum marking World Soil Day. Maria-Helena Semedo, the FAO’s deputy director general of natural resources warned that it takes 1,000 years to generate 3 centimeters of topsoil. Further, she made the effects of this degradation clear:
- “Soils are the basis of life,” ninety five percent of our food comes from the soil.”
- “The causes of soil destruction include chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation which increases erosion, and global warming.”
Soils play a key role in absorbing carbon and filtering water, the FAO reported. Soil destruction creates a vicious cycle, in which less carbon is stored, the world gets hotter, and the land is further degraded. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/#
Maybe you are not a gardener and don’t have a yard or the time to grow food or flowers, but you enjoy watching your children play outdoor sports. “We are losing 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming,” Volkert Engelsman, an activist with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements told the forum.
Perhaps, like me, you enjoy the magic of a long walk on one of the many beautifully groomed rail trails of Massachusetts. Whatever your connection to nature, Earth Day is a day to remember, honor, and respect our individual and collective relationship to the planet. If you love the land, cherish it a bit more, if you have given too little thought to how much your life depends on the soil, dedicate Earth Day to learning a bit more.
It sounds like Earth Day 2022 in Massachusetts will see 70 degrees and lots of sun, so at the very least, get out and love your mother – Mother Earth.
“A nation that destroys its soils, destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” Franklin D. Roosevelt