The Critical Zone

Other Threats to Soil


Soils provide a number of essential goods and services to humanity, including biomass and food production, water filtration, carbon sequestration, and the substrate on which we live our daily lives. Yet the actions of human society present the single largest threat to this essential component of the Critical Zone and Earth system. Negative impacts to soils from human activity include erosion, compaction, salinization, sealing by paving, pollution, and declines in organic matter content and biodiversity. To learn more about threats to soil, visit The Environmental Literacy Council. As you read the short statement there, think about how your own actions threaten the health of soil in your yard, community, and nation. Do you apply herbicides and pesticides to maintain a weed- and pest-free lawn? Do you have a paved rather than gravel driveway? If you have a septic system, do you maintain it and is it operating properly? Do you purchase food grown locally using sustainable agricultural practices? These are just a few of the actions you may take in your lives that preserve the health of soils.