Study: Soil erosion threatens human health

March 22, 2006

A Cornell University scientist says soil around the world is being swept and washed away 10 to 40 times faster than it's being replenished.

Professor of Ecology Davide Pimentel says cropland the size of Indiana is lost each year, yet the Earth's need for food and other grown products continues to soar.

"Soil erosion is second only to population growth as the biggest environmental problem the world faces," said Pimentel. "Yet, the problem, which is growing ever more critical, is being ignored because who gets excited about dirt?"

Pimentel said 99.7 percent of human food comes from cropland, which is shrinking by nearly 37,000 square miles each year due to soil erosion, while more than 3.7 billion people are malnourished.

The study, which pulls together statistics on soil erosion from more than 125 sources, notes the United States is losing soil 10 times faster -- and China and India are losing soil 30 to 40 times faster -- than the natural replenishment rate.

Damage from soil erosion worldwide is estimated to be $400 billion per year.

Pimentel's study appears in a recent issue of the Journal of the Environment, Development and Sustainability.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Benefits of strip-till surface after five-year study

Related Stories

Benefits of strip-till surface after five-year study

July 23, 2015

How does style of tilling make a difference in crop success? The blades on a till don't simply chop up soil and move it around. They blend dead plant material left from harvest into the soil. They also expose wetter soil ...

Mangroves help protect against sea level rise

July 23, 2015

Mangrove forests could play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise caused by climate change, according to new research involving the University of Southampton.

I-10 at washed out bridge in California to reopen Friday

July 22, 2015

The main route connecting Los Angeles and Phoenix, which was closed when a surge of floodwater damaged several bridges spanning small desert gullies, is set to partially reopen Friday—far sooner than officials first estimated.

Experiments open window on landscape formation

July 2, 2015

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate change may impact ...

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

New blow for 'supersymmetry' physics theory

July 27, 2015

In a new blow for the futuristic "supersymmetry" theory of the universe's basic anatomy, experts reported fresh evidence Monday of subatomic activity consistent with the mainstream Standard Model of particle physics.

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.