Climate change and environmental damage are two of the biggest threats to public health. They also undermine food production efforts, which has a negative impact on consumers around the world.
There are many reasons for the decline in the environment. And, according to a new report, one of the biggest contributing factors is soil damage.
The report, which was released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, points to the link between soil damage and climate change.
It also highlights the need to stop degrading the soil, as it’s compromising efforts to increase food production for the fast-growing global population.
It’s estimated that there three times more carbon in the soil than there is in the atmosphere. And due to farming practices and deforestation, more of it is being released into the atmosphere.
Some of the reasons for this include the soil being eroded or compacted by machinery, the soil being overwatered, or farming land and forests being built on.
This can compromise the growth of plants, which would normally absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Poor farming practices and the degrading of the soil can also kill worms that would previously have taken carbon too.
In an interview, The chair of IPBES, Prof Sir Bob Watson, commented on the 3.2 billion people worldwide who are affected by degraded soil.
He said: “There’s no question we are degrading soils all over the world. We are losing from the soil the organic carbon and this undermines agricultural productivity and contributes to climate change. We absolutely have to restore the degraded soil we’ve got.”
Some of the hotspots for degraded soil include South America, parts of Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. This is a growing problem, especially when it comes to supporting efforts to increase food production, as it means the ability to grow food is being compromised.
Experts have recommended that farmers find new ways of producing food to enhance the quality of the soil; or, to simply let forests grow back.