The Next Great Threat to the Planet.

First it was the next ice age was coming. Then it was global warming. Now a new threat caused by "evil" humans has been identified. What is it? Well, apparently, due to agriculture, we are running out of dirt. That's right dirt.

According to an article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer "Disappearing dirt rivals global warming as an environmental threat." (Source)

"We're losing more and more of it every day," said David Montgomery, a geologist
at the University of Washington. "The estimate is that we are now losing about 1
percent of our topsoil every year to erosion, most of this caused by

The article claims that the world is covered in just 3 feet of topsoil and its all washing or blowing away faster than it is replaced. Where does it go? The article isn’t quite clear, but based on my own experience, it ends up in my back yard. Nor does the article explain how we measure it for the whole planet, let alone all the farms in the western world. Further, most of the world isn’t covered in farmland, but all of it is subject to erosion of one sort or another. Farmers for their part try not to let their farms wash away and actually add nutrients to the soil in order to improve the topsoil.

I haven’t seen any scientific papers on this as of yet, but is agriculture really that big of a threat to the planet? Erosion has been a problem for thousands of years, but people have managed. Of course the other way to loose topsoil is development. The article claims that King County “has lost 60 percent of its farmland since the 1960s.” Which is not really all that surprising since several of Washington state’s largest cities are located in King County. The rest of the state remains relatively empty. In fact the picture shown above with the miniscule amount of erosion (cause by rain not agriculture) is located in the eastern part of the state, which is basically a desert.

So, what is their solution?

No-till farming could do a lot to reduce topsoil erosion, Reganold said, but
it's not without its downsides. Switching to no-till farming requires heavy
upfront investment and learning new techniques, he said, and also tends to
depend more on herbicides because the weeds are no longer controllable by
plowing them into the soil.

Of course herbicides are a big issue with greenies as well. The biggest concern seems to be erosion in sub-Saharan Africa, but of course we don’t teach the Africans to farm better, so we’ll work the issue here.

Maybe this is a big concern, but it has all the earmarks of another environmental scam. Someone looks at a problem in a small area and applies it to the entire planet. And now we have to do something to save the earth.

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