Imagine for a moment, how dark and gloomy this world would be without deep blue oceans that hold a realm of wonders in their vast bounds, the tall green trees that embellish the land, the animals and birds that add color to its canvas and the flowers that adorn it with its enchanting fragrance!
Unfortunately, we seem to be headed in that direction as the planet is continuously changing because of detrimental human activities. There is no denying to the fact that overpopulation and uncontrolled industrial activity are the prime factors contributing to it. They have an irreversible impact on the environment which leads to climate change, soil degradation, global warming, and various forms of pollution. Among all these, soil degradation is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. As soil is the key to life, poisoned soil means poisoned living, and this is what the current picture appears to be.
Healthy soil is essential for plant growth, food and nutrition and landscape that is more resilient to droughts and floods. It regulates the Earth’s climate, biodiversity and stores more carbon than all forests combined. Soil may seem to most people as something not very significant but if reflected, would realize that this brown matter beneath our feet is in a sense giving way to all life on land. Degradation of soil, hence, can adversely affect all beings on earth.
The industrial breakthrough in both developed and developing countries is a major factor contributing to soil degradation. These industries discharge their wastes directly on the land and in water bodies, thus contaminating them.
Due to ill and unsustainable practices, a decline in the structure and biological health of the soil has been noticed all around the globe. Environmental disasters such as climate change has a significant impact on the nature of soil as it renders the soil unhealthy and less nutritious. This less healthy soil decreases crop production by several folds declining the potential harvest. Moreover, in the scarcity of water, land degradation occurs in the form of soil erosion, desertification and salinization. The pesticides and fertilizers that enhance the crop production persist in the environment and effect the soil’s carbon content, pH, enzymes, and its microflora leading to unhealthy soil.
Unhealthy soil leads to many diseases in plants, animals, and humans. Various diseases such as tetanus, anthrax, botulism, gastrointestinal wounds, skin, and respiratory tract diseases are caused due to this in humans.
But the situation is alarming. According to an estimate, 33% of soil is degraded globally. This has raised an alarm among the concerned policy makers.
Despite all our accomplishments, we owe our existence to a six inch layer of soil. If we wish to improve the present circumstances, we must nurture this planet and the nurturing process starts right from the ground and then all the way up!
Maria Waseem, is a student at the College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of the Punjab who has an interest in nature and art.