Borrelli from the UN explains how poorer countries hold the key to sustaining our soils, but that everybody is responsible.
We rely on soil for almost all aspects of our lives, from the food and water we consume, the clothes we wear to the buildings we live in. However, a population rise, poor farming practises and changing land use has put immense pressure on this humble but essential resource, with 1,390,000,000,000,000 kilos of soil, or 2,800,000 football pitches, lost each year from erosion.
For the average person soil is known un-affectionately as filth, dirt or muck, for big companies as a kind of self sustaining gold mine and for farmers as a means for economic survival. The result is a global population that overwhelmingly and catastrophically underappreciate its importance.
Borrelli uses complex models to explain how poorer countries hold the key to future soil sustainability as they have more pristine land to exploit, such as the Amazon in South America, and a population growing faster than anywhere else in the world. A cocktail for potentially astronomic soil erosion.
Taken at face value, the models would seem to suggest that poorer countries are the issue and that they should take responsibility. However, as Borrelli indicates, part of this is just that these are countries that haven’t already destroyed their soils, as most western countries have done. Furthermore, the land is often used to produce exotic food, clothes or materials for westerners that blissfully ignore where the products have come from and the implications their consumption has. These goods are often produced in dangerous conditions for low wages, all to the tune of western CEOs that will never set foot on the farm or factory.
Whilst it remains true that the most important land for ensuring soil survival is the land in poorer countries, this is a global issue, and one that takes global responsibility. Poorer countries and their farmers need help from the rest of the world, including you, if we are to have any hope of sustaining this precious resource for future generations.