World Soil Day—December 5

Soil. Noperson-with-soil-and-plant-headt great when it smudges your clothing or gets tracked into your home, but as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations points out, it is a “life enabling resource.” As an essential ingredient to healthy food and nutrition, or as they put it, “where food begins,” soil is indispensable in providing
sustenance for humans. Additionally, soil can play an important role in slowing climate change by storing carbon through a process called carbon sequestration.  Healthy soil decreases greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and is therefore, according to FAO, “our ally against climate change.”  Yet, we continue to take soil for granted, and our actions negatively impact this important resource.

On a macro scale, industrial activity, particularly mining and manufacturing, have a huge effect on our soil. Unsustainable agricultural practices such as the heavy reliance on pesticides and shopping-carts-in-streamfertilizers, damage the soil too. In fact, according to the FAO, “if soils are managed poorly or cultivated through unsustainable agricultural practices, soil carbon can be released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), which can contribute to climate change.” Oil spills and acid rain also contribute to soil degradation.

But our own individual actions count as well. Every piece of litter thrown by the roadside or dumped into a stream is not only unsightly and may entrap
wildlife, but also leaches foreign substances into the soil and waterways as it biodegrades.  Check out some pictures of litter here in Fairfax County. Imagine the impact on our precious soil as these items break down.

If soil sustains life, we are not doing enough to protect it. The implications are huge….tire-and-other-litter.

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