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Though we call it dirt, the soil beneath is the skin of our planet and the breadbasket of our species. Is there a connection between the lifespan of a civilization and the rate at which its topsoil erodes? The agricultural practices of past societies can serve as a stern warning against highly erosive farming and point the way towards a revolution in the way we produce the sustenance needed for survival and prosperity. What does it mean that rapidly increasing food prices are causing riots around the world while a dump-truck load of soil enters the Mississippi Delta every second?
In Extraenvironmentalist #14 we speak with Dave Montgomery, author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. In his book, Dr. Montgomery covers historical evidence from Rome, Greece, China and other societies to trace a link between population dynamics and erosion. Even though the land of North America has only experienced heavy agricultural erosion for a much shorter span, we’ve already mined the fertility of the U.S. Southeast to churn out tobacco, driving populations towards the Pacific in search of more productive land. We discuss some key historical examples and talk about how modern trends point to serious concerns for the present as soil productivity declines at a rapid rate. Can a crisis in global agriculture be avoided when our society is heavily dependent on the temporary agricultural output boosted by petroleum dependent chemicals?
// Music (in order of appearance)
Conner Youngblood – Summer Song via The Music Ninja
Bibio – K is for Kelson via Et Musique Pour Tous
Mount Moriah – Lament via The New Music Collaborative
Daughter – Landfill via Earplugs Not Included
Daughter – Candles via Earplugs Not Included
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