Think Soil Is Dirty? We’re Making It Even Dirtier – and We Need to Stop


Soil - Photo credit: PixabayWhen we think about environmental damage, we rarely think about the ground beneath our feet. We think about the damage to the ozone layer, way beyond our line of sight. We think about the darkening clouds and layers of smog hovering ominously above our industrial cities. We think of oceans and rivers, once clear as crystal, now home to oil and slime and metallic trash. We don’t usually think about the damage that’s being done to our soil.

Maybe it’s because soil is already something we see as dirty. The sky and our oceans are supposed to be clear, after all. But soil is just dirt anyway, right? Of course, many of us know that it’s not that simple. We know that the soil is an extremely important part of our planet, a life-giving substance that is in just as much danger as everything else.

Pollution-china - WikimediaThanks a lot, humanity

So what exactly is going on here? Well, as usual, we don’t really have nature to blame. There are a lot of things we see as unpleasant that actually aid the soil. Corpses of animals and plants add to the fertility of the soil. Rotting fruit and vegetables, too, help the soil remain healthy. As with pretty much every other problem on the planet, we’re the ones causing it.

The causes

The biggest cause of these soil problems is industrial activity. Think about it: we’re still heavily dependent on finite resources like oil, minerals, and coal. So we’re always mining and extracting from the earth. And we’re not doing it in particularly safe ways.

Garbage - Photo credit: PixabayThere’s also agriculture to consider. You may think that agriculture is good for our soil. But it certainly isn’t when you consider the way we practice it. The agriculture industry pumps soil full of chemicals like dangerous pesticides. Soil isn’t built to deal with these kinds of chemicals, and so it becomes contaminated. And such contamination does spread.

Implications for your life and work

Soil all over the world is being affected by all of this. The soil in your garden is becoming contaminated. The soil in public fields is becoming riskier to deal with. The soil near oceans and rivers is becoming especially dangerous. This has big implications for people in both residential and professional spheres. If you need to dig around on a large-scale, or even a small-scale, you could be exposing yourself. Before starting such an endeavour, you may want to consult with environmental scientists from SESL.

Hands cupping a seedling in soil

Long-term effects

So what are the long-term effects for the planet? There is, of course, the adverse effect on human health I referred to in the previous paragraph. But there will also be big effects on the growth of plants. Toxic materials in the soil will hinder its fertility. This will make plants in certain areas difficult to grow, if they grow at all. And the quality of the resultant crops will also be affected. Another thing you need to consider is toxic dust. When soil dries up, it can become airborne in strong winds. Thus, soil contamination results, eventually, in air contamination.

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