All the silicon and the aluminum that are the basis of the soil, the carbon and the hummus, the magnesium, the sodium, the calcium is made from stars.
We, the human , are made of the same five basic elements that the earth is made of. The living organisms on earth have used the same living organisms again and again, the same molecules again and again. Dirt is alive, it probably has all of the kingdoms of life, from the tiniest bacteria to the fungi, to the slime molds, the algae. From the amount of species that live in dirt, dirt might be more alive than we are!
About 4 1/2 billion years ago the earth was molten rock, volcanos spewed minerals onto the earth’s surface and released water vapors. Rain pounded rock into clay and formed the oceans where life began. Microscopic life oozed from the sea onto the land where it mixed with the clay and formed dirt. This became the matrix of life on earth. Humans arrived.
We think that minerals like gold and diamonds are important but this is all a part of the skin of the earth. It is this skin that is important. This 5 centimeters of dirt is the life giver of this earth. If the wind takes this away what is left is bare rock. Not much can be done with bare rock.
A handful of dirt probably has more organized information than the surface of all the other known planets. One handful of soil probably has tens of billions of microorganisms, and they are all living together, some in cooperation some in conflict, but they are living together. The idea that they are just “stupid” dirt is limited. They are what is keeping this earth going.
We make the idea of children interacting with soil derogatory when we say, “ kids play with dirt” yet dirt is that from which we are formed.
All the microbes in the soil are aware of our presence. Deep in the old growth forests, where trees are very tall, 60 feet high. The soil is from ten thousands of years ago, the plants dying renewed the soil, the soil thickened and supported bio diversity. Mycelium is interface organisms between life and death. Fungi decompose plants and wood and this becomes dirt. Mycelium makes dirt.
In our concrete cities the dirt is buried. The process that turns garbage into a garden is essential to our survival, we depend on dirt to purify and heal the systems that sustain us.
This is the machine that recycles our water. It is all the processes of the soil that clean our water. Our water was once Dinosaur pee.
Religions all connect the formation of man to clay and dirt, Adam means dirt, Eve means life.
Soil is the mother who gives, to whom we must give back. Soil is the source of all fertility. Cows are sacred for their dung. The cows process the part of plants the humans cannot eat and return it to the earth.
To interact with the earth, food has to be “grown” for nature and well as for the human. Plants get compounds from the air and energy from the sun, and they use their biological systems to fix this stuff into sugar, some of this sugar they put into their fruit to spread their seeds, half of those sugars they pump into the soil to feed soil biology. The plants absorb water, so there is a tide of water, they use their mineral wastes to solubilize their mineral nutrients from the raw soil material, this material is rock. Planting secondary plants within a crop, return the plant material back into the soil after a crop is harvested.
Without the community of dirt humans could not exist. We have a potential garden of Eden right under out feet. Tasting the earth, the actual dirt, smelling it, will reveal its profile. Wine from organic farms that have healthy soils produce the best wines.
In many agricultural societies soil was everything, even houses were built with soil. People have built with dirt for 9000 years. Take it right from the building site and use it to build a house. A mixture of dirt and straw ( horse manure as processed straw ), adding proteins and other enzymes to the manure to act as glue. This creates an incredibly hard material.
In India the mixture of cow dung and dirt has many uses. The cow dung acts as an antiseptic so no pest infestations. The houses built of this material are warm in winter and cool in summer.
This is a very different experience from petrochemicals. Dirt is the building material of everything.
The DNA of dirt is very similar to the human, to the mountains, rivers. Dirt is our flesh. Dirt is considered to have healing powers. There are pilgrimages to places where dirt has healing powers.
The demand for natural resources has changed our relationship with dirt. All around the world we are destroying dirt to mine the earth. Strip mining cuts off mountains to get to coal all in the name of “cheap” electricity, but this is not cheap at all, it is unbelievably expensive. The attitude is towards nature as resources to be used, to take for the benefit of the few in a short amount of time; recent human existence. The coal companies come in a blast away one level of dirt, an “overburden” of dirt that has no water. This removal of this layer releases all the heavy metals from this earth and then this is free to get out into the environment and into the watershed.
In a city like Los Angeles, the earth has been covered in asphalt, covering the living organism of dirt causing a heat island effect. The rivers were encased in concrete, this water was then released into the oceans, unused- billions of gallons of water not being absorbed by the soil. Los Angeles brought in water for the city from many miles away costing California about a billion dollars a year to bring water. Because the dirt has been sealed off and the water sent away, 20 % of electricity is used to bring water to Los Angeles.
Without healthy dirt, it is difficult to survive extreme climate events. Long term droughts leads to crop failure and starvation. If deserts are created, eventually these microclimate deserts form much bigger areas where people cannot live. So fighting starts between nomadic and agricultural communities over land that still has dirt. So desertification is one way of undermining security in any country.
Civilizations have risen and fallen based on how dirt was treated. The American dust bowl is one example. America was once considered the bread basket of the world. Farmers used modern agricultural practices to remove the prairie grasses to plant a single crop of millions of acres in an effort to increase profits through a belief in monoculture. They discovered they were killing their dirt. This left a dead soil that blew away. These bad farming practices changed the landscape.
In the last hundred years a third of our topsoil has disappeared. Millions of hectares of one species, one variety being planted within modern agricultural practices, all these monocultures are going to collapse. The more we grow monocultures the more vulnerable we are. We must return to a variety of crops. Monocultures also create pest epidemics, to which are added pesticides. These chemicals delete the soil, they take away the structure, the organisms, the water. And since we are so much like this dirt from where we came, we are in effect killing ourselves. Industrial farming practices have created a huge demand for nitrogen. 20% is taken up by plants the rest goes into the water table. In the American midwest this mobil nitrogen is then taken into the Mississippi and into the Gulf of Mexico where fish die as algae increases, depleting oxygen and creating “dead zone” where only jelly fish can thrive. This mobile nitrogen combines with oxygen to from nitrous oxide which is then taken into the atmosphere creating climate changes. 20% of omissions are coming from agriculture that has become a war against soil. This misused soil is used for two or three harvests and then abandoned like it is a desert.
Forests are cut down to create new planting fields. Trees absorb pollutants, protect top soil, prevent erosion, fix nitrogen, sequester carbon and release oxygen. Global demands for paper, lumber, bio fuel, land grazed cattle ( where if lands were maintained there is plenty of land) are ravaging forests. Corporations do not see life, they do not see the soil as the substance of life, they do not see or care about the diversity of life that is in these forests, they see timber and money only. The Brazilian rain forest is being cut down for the mono crop of soya.
Each year 100 million trees are cut down to provide 20 billion mail order catalogues. The Congo forest is being destroyed, if this forest goes, so does Africa. When the forest is cut and the timber removed, the forests are set on fire, releasing carbon dioxide and gases into the atmosphere, where the remaining brush could be chipped into pieces to decay and replenish the soil. Then when it rains the top soil runs off and the ground dries up. No soil, no water retention.
In India, farmers are being forced into modern agricultural practices, these farmers are pushed into the loan economy where the farmer becomes burdened with debt and go broke. Then the land is taken over by huge agribusinesses for monoculture. In India 600,000 farmers disappear, no one thinks about the soil. Farmers around the world are committing suicide. In India in the last decade an estimated 200,000 farmers have killed themselves drinking the pesticides they can no longer afford.
Erosion means the soil is screaming. We do not realize this. Soil is a living system, it is not dead. And that is the problem, we think of soil as being dead. If there were a united organization of organisms the human would be voted off the earth, but the human only know one language, profit.
One couple, the Salgatos, who has documented people all over the world in the last 30 years have learned that there is a strong correlation between human degradation and environmental degradation. Dried desert like grounds/land create poverty, where the people go into cities where they cannot find jobs. For the first time in human history more people are living in cities. In the developing world, 80% of people in cities are living in slums, they have been separated from the dirt that sustained them.
In Haiti where food prices have increased, a local food, of dirt, is sustaining the poor. Food riots all over the world are direct consequences of modern agricultural practices, this practice that was supposed to feed the world. But what exists is a war over dirt, over the resource of this earth, abused and miss- used for profit. Corporation is dictating the landscape.
We have created this problem, this toxic load from modern agriculture. We have done this by allowing this and not being aware of this, it is time to stop this extractive economy and learn to live within our means, the way of modern agricultural practices are not working.
There are ways to replenish the deserts with traditional wisdom and modern science. A mixture of organic practices and modern technology. In the American planes, the prairie plants had roots ten feet long, these roots reached down to the nitrogen washed deep into the soil. Modern agricultural plants needed nitrogen to be topically administered because the roots were too shallow. The native perennial plants also kept the soil intact, annual monocultures did not do this. Perennial native plants maintain the soil and begin the reconciliation of the human having existed out of context with this earth. Our earth needs to regain biodiversity to reclaim the life that cannot be lost, the life of the soil. As above, so below. It is the same with this earth, what is above, is as important as what is below. There is no escape.
Smaller farms known as CSAs are springing up around America, but they tend to be affordable for a middle class family and not everyone on this earth.
Getting prisoners out onto the land has an effect on their attitudes.
Using soil on roofs in cities conserves energy and protects the roof, while cleaning the air.
There are many practices that can be implemented to work with soil and use it to improve what nature shows us works to maintain this earth. We now know that modern agriculture is not working, that his system of profit is not considering this earth, and only considers raping the earth to maintain that dividend for the few. Obviously, this is not working and it must stop.
My own comment about this movie is that it has examples of people developing practices that support the soil, which is commendable. There are schools developing gardens, innovators who are taking fish waste and mixing it with sawdust to produce a rich hummus to replenish the soils. There are even lights being developed that harness the microbial energy to power the bulbs, thereby cutting down electrical usage and providing lighting to communities where there is not electricity.
Yet, what has to be realized is the system that allowed this level of destruction to the soils of this earth. This system is the system of profit, where what is sought is a quick profit and, as we now see, does not consider the earth and the best practice for this earth. Best practices do not make a profit and create a scenario of health, as health is a state of peace, and it is war that makes a profit through division. What has to be done is a system placed on this earth that supports all life, that supports the real value on this earth, life. Profit breeds a behavior of greed and survival games where there is little room for real study and understanding of this earth for everyone. If the belief that this greed and survival is “darwinian” and “the way the human is” this does not consider and ignores the question of what came first the chicken or the egg? One begets the other, thus change the system, and the human will change, as one is the product of the other.
This will take a huge group of people to stand politically. Join Equal Money at http://equalmoney.org
Through self forgiveness can we stop our learned behavior of greed and survival