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: Evidence from China shows how plants colonized the land

Related Stories

Huge time-lag between erosion and mountain building

July 19, 2016

An unprecedented record of erosion rates dating back millions of years shows a significant time-lag between tectonic uplift and maximum erosion rates in the Argentine Precordillera mountains. According to a new study by an ...

Recommended for you

Force triggers gene expression by stretching chromatin

August 26, 2016

How genes in our DNA are expressed into traits within a cell is a complicated mystery with many players, the main suspects being chemical. However, a new study by University of Illinois researchers and collaborators in China ...

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.