The Coming World Soil Shortage

by douglas reeser on 4.28.2010

We have all heard about the probability of running out of oil. And the potential fresh water shortages have been popularized as well. Food shortages have even begun to flash up, but usually because of interrupted crop yields and natural disasters. Well the latest issue to add to the influx is what may be the coming shortage of arable soil. According to an article on Alternet by Larry Gallagher, the world loses over 80 billion tons of soil every year. Other statistics look just as stark. For instance, Gallagher reports: "According to the International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC), as of 1991, human activity has brought about the degradation of 7.5 million square miles (19.5 million square kilometers) of land, the equivalent of Europe twice over." Our industrial agricultural system, one that is known for depleting soils of its nutrients, has only accelerated this degradation. What shouldn't be surprising is that the extent of soil depletion varies geographically, and is probably worst in Sub-Saharan Africa. A more severe form, desertifaction is taking place there, and Gallagher notes that "desertificationn in Sub-Saharan Africa will drive 60 million people from their homes in the next 20 years."

While the problem appears dire, there are those who are exploring solutions, and Gallagher interviews one of the more successful: John Jeavons. Jeavons is the genius behind biointensive gardening, in which he has developed a method of growing food at high yields in small plots and that results in zero soil loss or degradation. It's a compelling approach, and one that could aid the millions of hungry around the world - and certainly worth checking out their website: Ecology Action.

Gallagher moves on from there with an interesting and entertaining article filled with many useful links. Check out the rest of his story here>>>

Of course we could all try a life of fasting like this holy man in India, who has reportedly consumed no food or water for decades. Read his story at the BBC news here>>>
Print Friendly and PDF


  1. That man from India is amazing. Corporations that destroy soil are not.

  2. This is scary the way we are depleting the natural resources.And instead of conserving and making best use of them we are depleting them...what a pity.


Having trouble leaving a comment? Some browsers require acceptance of 3rd party cookies. If you leave an anonymous comment, it may need to be approved.