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: Landscape-scale erosion instabilities in the northern Gabilan Mesa, California

Related Stories

The glaciers are going

May 8, 2017

As can be seen above, the Waggonwaybreen glacier in Svalbard, Norway, has retreated substantially since 1900. Svalbard's glaciers are not only retreating, they are also losing about two feet of their thickness each year. ...

Recommended for you

Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

May 26, 2017

On Oct. 13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar ...

Conch shells spill the secret to their toughness

May 26, 2017

The shells of marine organisms take a beating from impacts due to storms and tides, rocky shores, and sharp-toothed predators. But as recent research has demonstrated, one type of shell stands out above all the others in ...

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.