What’s Cheaper Then Dirt?

I’m going to have to update my collapse vocabulary.

Soil erosion is the “silent global crisis” that is undermining food production and water availability, as well as being responsible for 30 percent of the greenhouse gases driving climate change.

“We are overlooking soil as the foundation of all life on Earth,” said Andres Arnalds, assistant director of the Icelandic Soil Conservation Service.

“Soil and vegetation is being lost at an alarming rate around the globe, which in turn has devastating effects on food production and accelerates climate change,” Arnalds told IPS from Selfoss, Iceland, host city of the International Forum on Soils, Society and Climate Change which starts Friday. Dirt Isn’t So Cheap Afterall

Here’s a scary fact:

Food production has kept pace with population growth by increasing 50 percent between 1980 and 2000. But it is an open question whether there will be enough food in 2050 with an estimated three billion more mouths to feed.

That means more food has to be produced within the next 50 years than during the last 10,000 years combined he noted.  

No way will we reach 3 billion more humans, never going to happen. But examine what this 50% production increase in just 20 years really means.

In order to keep feeding the present population (including replacement births and deaths at a ratio of 1:1), current food production levels must be maintained, using gigantic energy inputs (petroleum), all while 100,000 square kilometers of land is lost to degradation each year, and petroleum outputs are falling in steeper and steeper declines all over the world.

Birth rates are still higher then death rates and “Global food production per hectare is already declining”. Drought is having a serious impact upon everything, especially farmland. Worse, “Hundreds of millions of square kilometers of farmland will soon be used to meet a small part of the world’s rapidly growing thirst for fuel.”

Add it all up. The sum of it all is sobering indeed. Because we simply will not stop our consumptive ways, we have orchestrated our own collapse.

I’ll tell you what’s cheaper then dirt: human lives and the lives of every other living thing on this planet. That should be self evident already when you examine how we consider people of other religions, skin colors or economic status. But in this context, human life will become even cheaper, as we exchange our farmland for fuel for our cars, our essential water supplies for wasteful industries and trinkets, and our biosphere for a human caused holocaust.

There are consequences to our actions and our inactions. Nobody likes to think about them much, let alone actually deal with them, but we will not always be able to push this off to future generations. The piper will get his due. It’s our turn now, this generation alive today.

Human life is about to get very, very cheap.


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3 thoughts on “What’s Cheaper Then Dirt?

  • November 3, 2007 at 10:20 am

    The ‘scariest’ line to me was, “…more food has to be produced within the next 50 years than during the last 10,000 years combined …”


    What are your children going to be eating in 25 years – or 10 0 or 5? Mom & Dad, It’s what’s for dinner!

  • November 3, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    With industrial collapse I see big gains for recycling used and useless stuff. How many human bodies are needed to fertilize 1 acre of land? Would you eat it?:)

  • November 4, 2007 at 5:49 am

    I’d not eat the food raw. Which might related to traditional Chinese cooking methods – all veggies, even lettuce, were lightly cooked. Not a ‘raw foods’ culture! It certainly would have helped control parasites and such where humanure was used as fertilizer.

    Of course, we’ll probably do the more traditional mass graves or leaving them where they are for overwhelming numbers of dead bodies…. If you think that the grass is always greener over the septic tank, think of tree growth over dead inept would-be hunters in the woods.

    Hmmm. Idea! Rumor is that Native Americans used to plant some dead fish along with their corn seeds. During die off, we could combine orchards with cemetaries. One dead body buried with one sapling over it. Years of tree fertilizer built in. And in 1000’s years, anthopologists will think it was some religious ritual burial related to reincarnation or such.


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