Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Anthropogenic soil change…

It's not enough many scientists think we're changing the climate, some also think we are fundamentally changing the land.
The dirt under our feet is being so changed by humans that it is now appropriate to call this the "Anthropocene (or man-made) Age," says a new worldwide overview by Duke University soil scientist Daniel Richter.

"With more than half of all soils on Earth now being cultivated for food crops, grazed, or periodically logged for wood, how to sustain Earth's soils is becoming a major scientific and policy issue," Richter said. His paper appears in the December issue of the research journal Soil Science.

"Society's most important scientific questions include the future of Earth's soil," Richter added. "Can soils double food production in the next few decades? Is soil exacerbating the global carbon cycle and climatic warming? How can land management improve soil's processing of carbon, nutrients, wastes, toxics and water, all to minimize adverse effects on the environment?"

"Each of these questions require long-term observation and analysis, and we know far too little about how to answer them in much detail," he said. "We need to work to sustain soils with a greater sense of urgency." [More]
This could be easier to sell to the "it's-human-hubris-to-think-we-can-alter-the-environment crowd" than man-caused climate change. We all know of farmed out, eroded soils. But measuring this change on a global scale could prove alarming, if it is actually possible. Or it might reassure us of nature's regenerative powers.

Anyway, it's another example of the way Google creates a tool and then uses are found for it.

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