World Soil Day celebrates the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system – it is one of the most complex biological materials on our planet! This month Rahamim takes a look at how our ISMAPNG sustainability policy area of investment could impact the health of soils.
Many of us have probably never considered the value of the ground beneath our feet. There are fascinating revelations emerging all the time about the life in soil that contributes to the whole community of life on Earth and ultimately our human existence.
In just a handful of fertile soil, there are more individual organisms than the total number of human beings that have ever existed. These organisms enable the health of soil for it to be abundantly fertile and retain water. Healthy soil also stores four times more carbon than all the plants and trees in the world, making it the second biggest reservoir of carbon on the planet, next to oceans.
Just about everything we need and value as a society comes from soil –food, fibre, energy, clean water, building materials. Yet some 40% of agricultural soils are now degraded, reducing their ability to hold carbon or be used as farmland.
Over the past 40 years, we have drastically compromised our soil health world wide by:
• Mining and coal seam gas exploration
• clearing 75% of the earth’s primary forests
• depleting over 8 billion hectares of our former deep organic soils
• creating over 4 billion hectares of human-made deserts
• applying ever increasing amounts of chemical fertiliser
Pope Francis describes it this way: “We have come to see ourselves as Earth’s lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life are symptoms that reflect the violence present in our hearts… (Laudato Si’ 2).
Regardless of the size of your pocket book, there are many ways you can invest in the health of our soils - each of which is an expression of Mercy for our Common Home.
What can we do?
1. Ensure that you, and the companies that invest for you, invest ethically and sustainably. Find out whether your superannuation company or banks invest in coal mining, coal seam gas exploration, or other damaging industries depleting soils. Check out Rahamim Ecology Centre’s guide to ethical investment here.
2. Avoid purchasing products containing uncertified palm oil. Many palm oil plantations clear old-growth native forests which depletes soils. Find out more here.
3. Reduce dependence on fossil fuels, non-organic fertilisers and bio-cides which deplete soils of micro-organisms.
4. Eat organic and biodynamic produce by growing your own and shopping organically. Even regional supermarkets and health food shops now stock quality organic produce.
5. Increase organic matter in soil through increasing ground cover, vegetation, applying mulch and compost which revitalises soils and retains water.
6. Check out Rahamim’s Go Green Student Film festival for 2018 with the theme “Soil is Life” http://www.rahamim.org.au/gogreen
Invitation to Rahamim World Soil Day Online Forum
You are invited to continue this discussion by voicing your concerns for Earth and sharing ideas by joining Rahamim’s education team for our first ever facilitated online discussion.
Simply click on this link https://zoom.us/j/388993485 and follow the prompt to Zoom at 12.30pm on Wednesday 6th December. You will get a chance to meet us and share ideas with like-minded people.
As this is our first online discussion, we welcome all feedback about this forum and look forward to meeting you!