Most of us are familiar with the general scientific ideas surrounding climate change. We are also likely aware of the imminent threats of global warming, largely that rising temperatures will make our planet uninhabitable very soon.
However, our emphasis on rising temperatures sometimes causes other important aspects of the environmental crisis to get overlooked. For example, biodiversity loss and soil depletion are two huge factors.
This blog post will focus on soil degradation and its role in exacerbating climate change.
Furthermore, we will explore why poor communities are the most vulnerable to the negative effects of environmental degradation. Climate change has already exacerbated socioeconomic inequalities and will continue to do so unless we do something about it.
What if there was a way to tackle all different facets of the environmental crisis in a way that prioritizes the needs of economically disadvantaged communities at the same time? What if we could combat environmental justice and social justice at the same time? Keep reading to learn more about how H4A is doing exactly that.
Why is Healthy Soil So Important?
Healthy soil is an absolute necessity for a healthy climate and planet. Degraded soil negatively impacts the quality of the plants that grow from it. When soils are depleted of key nutrients (boron, zinc, etc.), the health of humans and animals suffers (Hobson, 2019). According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), people who live in tropical zones with degraded soil actually test low in key vitamins (Hobson, 2019).
The soil microbiome is home to many microorganisms which are essential for the growth and maintenance of ecosystems. These microorganisms help with "nutrient recycling, protecting soil structure, and pathogen suppression" (Wang et al., 2021). When toxins are introduced to the soil by humans, the number microorganisms diminish. With contaminated soil and diminished microbial population, plants suffer because they cannot absorb the amount of nutrients and water they need to thrive (Wang et al., 2021).
Soil is key for storing and managing water. Healthy soil absorbs and filters large quantities of water. However, when soil becomes degraded, rainfall isn’t able to absorb into the ground and instead runs off causing flooding. Desertification also threatens the health of the soil microbiome by creating a hostile environment for microorganisms to survive.
Furthermore, as mentioned above, plants need moisture in the soil to grow properly. As our soil condition worsens, we are likely to see an increase in major floods and droughts (Hobson, 2019).
Lastly, soil stores lots of carbon. The IPCC reports that soil stores roughly double the amount of carbon than the atmosphere (Hobson, 2019). As soil erodes over time, that carbon is released into the air and accelerates climate change.
Unfortunately, soil degradation is happening most rapidly in tropical zones like the Amazon. We have seen communities forced to decide between destroying their home (the Amazon) or living below the poverty line. Oil and logging companies offer money to rural, native communities in exchange for their land, which will certainly be destroyed. Right now, many communities do not have the ability or the financial incentive to turn them down.
However, H4A is committed to reversing these exploitative trends. You can help us do this!
Understanding the Needs of Vulnerable Communities
H4A works firsthand with rural communities living near the poverty line. Our restorers deserve economic stability without compromising their home. They know how to regenerate healthy soil, and in turn grow food sustainably, support biodiverse ecosystems, and sequester carbon. We cannot have achieve climate justice without social justice.
That’s why we are committed to improving the socioeconomic conditions of the communities that are helping us restore the planet. Co-restorers like you ensure that these families earn a living wage while keeping our home, planet earth, safe.
Money is power. A will to make change on a global scale is power. The families that restore with H4A are entrepreneurs and their own bosses. By partnering with us, your contributions have a double impact: environmental care and economic empowerment. We help the environment by engaging in active and holistic restoration.
We have to do more than plant trees, we must restore entire ecosystems from the soil up. Additionally, your contribution allows vulnerable communities to lift themselves from poverty while holding onto the land that is rightfully theirs. They can celebrate their ancestral knowledge of the land and their culture.
A Path Forward
So, how can we uplift these communities and do our part to fight the environmental crisis at the same time?
We need to invest in permaculture and food forests. These solutions are good for the environment, the animals, the plants, and us.
Permaculture is a practice of working in harmony with nature by replicating ecologically sound practices (Mollison, 1981). It is a way of agriculture that honors the biodiverse, stable, and sustainable ecosystems that naturally occur in the wild.
Food forests are intentionally designed systems that grow a diverse array of edible plants in a way that mimics natural environments. They support a variety of species instead of monocrops which damage ecosystems. They don’t rely on the use of chemicals and pesticides that poison the soil, plants, microorganisms, and animals. Food forests work around natural resources like rivers instead of exploiting or damaging them.
Beyond supporting new growth, we know that we must rehabilitate what has already been destroyed or degraded. By doing so, we hope to bring back once abundant species, balance ecosystems, restore soil, and of course, feed native communities.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of factors that all play a role in the growing climate crisis. The environmental crisis has many heads, more than the ones mentioned in this article. In order to combat it, we need to pay attention to all of them.
However, becoming paralyzed by fear is not the way forward. Luckily, we are working with experts who have centuries of experience living in harmony with nature. We can engage in a process of mutual aid.
We can unite the human family to work together in synchronization to make the biggest impact we can.
To learn more about how we do what we do, visit our homepage: https://www.humansforabundance.com/
Mollison, B. (1981). Introduction to Permaculture. Sparr, Florida; Yankee Permaculture.
Hobson, J. (2019, September 20). U.N. report links soil degradation to climate change. Here & Now.
Retrieved from https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/09/20/soil-degradation-climate-change
Wang, M., Garrido-Sanz, D., Sansegundo-Lobato, P., Redondo-Nieto, M., Conlon, R., Martin, M., Mali, R., Liu, X., Dowling, D. N., Rivilla, R., & Germaine, K. J. (2021). Soil microbiome structure and function in Ecopiles used to remediate petroleum-contaminated soil. Frontiers in Environmental Science, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2021.624070