soil erosion and the plow that broke the plains

I’ve been dipping in and out of a book called ‘Something New Under the Sun‘ by John McNeill. I think its a great book (hey it sparked my interest in chemistry again so that’s one  special book right there…)but I can only take a bit at a time because its about the environmental history of the 20th century, a century where humankind seemed determined to heap increasing amounts of misery on the planet as the years went by.

I’ve only read the first chapter about soil erosion but here are some figures that stuck in my head from the book so far.

‘Most decisively, urbanization and road building buried soils throughout the 20th century. Between 1945 and 1975 farmland area equivalent to Nebraska or the United Kingdon was paved over’

‘Soil degradation in one form or another now affects one-third of the world’s land surface. The area now degraded by human action (about 2 billion hectares or the area of the United States plus Canada)……an area of about 430 million hectares seven times the size of Texas has been ‘irreversibly destroyed’ by accelerated erosion.

Mad. There is something about soil though, I guess its the ultimate ‘we don’t want to get our hands dirty’. Anyway, I’ve edited this post a bit as I’ve just remembered this old, poetic black and white film which I borrowed a few years ago from Lucan library and played on the walls of Chalet 3. If you’ve 25mins to spare there are worse ways to spend them


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