- Ambika S.
Save our soil and our future
Over the past decade, we have all heard about climate change and disruptions in the climate (water scarcity, loss of habitat, etc). But a few people are aware that the topsoil of the Earth’s crust is deteriorating rapidly as we go further into this new century. Soil is the basis of life, where humans, animals, worms, microbes and almost all living organisms depend on it for food and shelter. If we don’t take action toward saving our soil, then our planet could be in crisis very soon (Fig 1). According to IUCN.org, there has been a global decrease in agricultural soil by 52%.
The Save Soil movement was started by Sadhguru, an Indian Yogi, to highlight the degradation of soil due to land use. United Nations points out that we have soil left only for approximately eighty to a hundred harvests, which means another forty-five to sixty years of agriculture. After that, we will not have the soil to produce food. This is a very alarming situation and so this movement is about bringing together people around the world to address the issue of Soil Health and bring leaders of all the countries on board to ensure policies to increase the “organic content in the soil”.
As you can see from Fig 1, the prominent colors which are present are yellow and red. This indicates that the soil in many parts of the world is degraded or on the verge of being very degraded. As Sadhguru points out, most of the biodiversity exists and thrives in the “thirty-nine inches of topsoil.” He also said, “In the last forty years, forty percent of the world’s topsoil has been lost.” If we don’t take strict action then our soil will go extinct (referring to soil extinction) and life would come to an end as we know it.
Also if the soil is not thriving then it can lead to:
Loss of biodiversity
Loss of livelihood
Now you might be wondering why we have suddenly switched gears to talk about soil and how that is related to the talks about climate change.
Fixing the soil can fix a lot of major problems which are present to this day. According to consciousplanet.org, “Almost every major ecological crisis is, to some degree or form, a consequence or symptom of the degradation of soil.” Hence, creating healthy soil can overcome many of the environmental issues faced today. We cannot address a specific problem without tackling the whole issue as the ecosystems are interconnected together.
For instance, climate change increases farmers’ challenges by making weather patterns more severe and less trustworthy.
Extreme heat can be harmful to crop growth and more water from the soil will be evaporated. This will have an effect on the water demand for soil (Fig 2). Therefore, we must address the whole problem holistically and find solutions for it.
In 2021, there was a UN report released. It talked about how the agricultural farmers are facing a breaking point. The report is quite interesting.
For more information about the report, you can access the report HERE.
Over the past 20 years, the global population has risen by more than 25% from just 6 billion to nearly 8 billion people. Therefore, there is a greater demand for food and more mouths to feed. The amount of land to grow food has increased by 4% over that time. To meet this demand, farmers had to increase the productivity per acre of land, for instance, by the heavy use of machinery, fertilizer, and pesticides.
Using these harmful chemicals on crops reduces the amount of nutrition content and is prone to different diseases. The UN report pointed out that the adverse treatment of soil results in drastic changes to soil health and has contributed to freshwater pollution due to water runoff and drainage.
However, the most harmful effects can be seen when irrigation is used. Meeting the growing demands for food has been crucial and so using irrigation “produces two to three times as much food per acre” as normal farmland. But irrigation increases the probability of contaminating soil and groundwater through the runoff of contaminated water.
All this has led to the degradation of soil which has reached a critical point as shown in Fig 1. This degradation is caused by many factors such as the use of heavy fertilizers, overgrazing by livestock causing soil erosion, deforestation and depletion of water tables across the globe.
For example, California harvests 80% of the world’s yearly supply of almonds. But due to the recent climate changes and the droughts it is harder to keep up with the demand as almonds are a very water-intensive crop. As a result, some farmers have been forced to clear their almond orchards. This comes to show that adaptation cannot always be smooth and that there are major bumps and challenges that the farmer needs to cross.
So by seeing all this and learning more knowledge about this issue. Sadhguru decided to do something about it and that is where the Save Soil Movement was born. (Fig 3)
To raise awareness about this alarming situation, Sadhguru started on his journey of 100 days from London to India traveling across 26 countries on the 21st of March, 2022, as a lone motorcyclist. The plan is to take this message to as many people as possible and together bring back 3-6% of the organic content in the soil.
During his travel, he will talk to different ministers of the countries to allow specific rules and regulations to take place for maintaining soil health (Fig 4, and 5).
To be up to date with Sadhguru’s journey throughout the 100 days then do check out this website. It shows a full breakdown and the timeline from when he started to where he is now. Currently, he is in Jordan, Amman and then will be continuing his journey onwards (Fig 6).
Therefore, the best things you and I can do together are to follow the Save Soil Movement on social media and spread the word to everyone.
Here are some of the social handles:
I think we all should join this movement and spread awareness of this important issue to anyone we talk to (Fig 7). The first step to tackling a big issue starts with understanding it thoroughly.
If you are passionate about the environment and would like to contribute to this strong and meaningful movement. Then definitely sign up to be an Earth buddy! It is where you get to dedicate 10 minutes of your time, on this 100-day trip of Sadhguru, to soil and spread awareness and develop your knowledge.
For more information about ways to contribute, check out this link below:
Here is a video that outlines the importance of soil: https://youtu.be/SCHqnkR7600
Here are some of the additional photos of the Save Soil Movement: