Weather of Arabia - Did you know that the number of living organisms present in a tablespoon of soil is greater than the number of people on Earth?! Soil is a world composed of living organisms, minerals, and organic components that provide food for humans and animals. You can imagine what would happen when this vital world was exposed to pollution!
Soil affects the food we eat, our health and the health of all living things on this planet. Without healthy soil we will not be able to grow our food. Because soil is a finite resource, its loss and degradation are irreversible over a human lifetime.
Like humans, soil needs a balanced and varied supply of nutrients in appropriate amounts to be healthy. However, agricultural systems lose nutrients with each harvest, and if the soil is not managed sustainably, its fertility gradually decreases, resulting in nutrient-deficient plants.
Over the past 70 years, the level of vitamins and nutrients in food has decreased dramatically, and it is estimated that two billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies known as “hidden hunger” because they are difficult to detect.
Healthy soils are key to food security. They help sustain food production, mitigate and adapt to climate change. Healthy soils filter water, improve resilience to floods and droughts and much more. However, the invisible threat jeopardizes the soil and all it has to offer.
Soil pollution causes a series of devastating effects on the environment and has consequences for all forms of life that encounter it. It alters soil biodiversity, reduces organic matter, and causes an imbalance of soil nutrients.
There are 18 elements necessary for plant growth, 3 of which plants obtain from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, while 15 are obtained from the soil.
Contaminated soil can release pollutants into groundwater, which are transported to and accumulated in plant tissues, then transmitted to grazing animals and birds, and finally to humans who eat the plants and animals. Contaminants in soil, groundwater and in the food chain can cause a variety of diseases and increased mortality in humans, ranging from short-term acute effects, such as poisoning or diarrhoea, to long-term chronic effects, such as cancer.
In addition to affecting the environment, soil pollution also has high economic costs due to reduced crop yields and quality.
And because the vast majority of pollutants are the result of human action, we are directly responsible for making the changes needed to ensure a less polluted and safer future.
Here are some of the reasons why soil pollution is catastrophic and cannot be underestimated:
The benefits of soil go beyond food production. Did you know that most of the known antibiotics, including penicillin, originated from microorganisms in the soil?
With the world's population projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, our current and future food security depends on our ability to increase yields and food quality using the soils we have today. Soil pollution negatively affects us all.
Soil protection and preservation begins with us. Here are some examples to be part of the solution:
Healthy soil is a precious, non-renewable commodity that is under increasing threat from destructive human behaviour. We are responsible for the soil that provides us with food, water and air, and we must take action today to ensure we maintain healthy soils for a sustainable and food-secure future. Let's be part of the solution to maintain soil health!
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( fao.org )