Soil Affects Civilization

(Gary) Many authors have documented the rise and fall of civilizations that are related to how soils are managed and the quality of the soils. There are a number of societies around the world that have risen and fallen because of their degradation of their soil resource. Ecosystem services are essential, beneficial functions that the soil provides for the environment and for society. Things like clothing, so cotton and wool production are related to soils. There’s a lot of regulating functions that soils provide, helps mitigate floods and mitigate carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. (Kendra) Because there’s so much carbon in the soil and it’s in such stable forms, it’s a great idea to keep as much carbon in the soil as possible. At this point there’s lots of conservation in tillage measurement and lots of activities that land managers can do to keep carbon in the soil. (Gary) And then cultural, which is something that a lot of people don’t think about, but the soil can be used as an art medium, in and of itself. (Amy) We use ceramics in our daily life. Even if you don’t use handmade pottery, chances are you drink out of a coffee mug. There’s endless possibilities. We work with a periodic table of elements to compose glazes and to compose clay bodies. (Chuck) We understand soils are great for growing plants, they clean our water, that’s been part of the themes for the International Year of Soils. But what most people understand is the value of those organisms directly for us, for humans. Just as an example, over 90 percent of our antibiotics that we use currently for our health came from microorganisms. (Gary) Countries like the United States were founded on a very healthy and productive soil resource. And when you have that natural resource, then a large segment of the population can participate in other activities that advance society. So, very much so, the wealth of this country and areas like it around the world is very much related to the soil resource.

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