World Soil Day

World Soil Day is held every year on December 5th to create awareness about the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable use of soil resources. The date corresponds to the official birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who had sanctioned the event. It is held by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Is soil pollution an imminent threat?

Even if we do not realize it, soil pollution is an immediate threat. 1/3rd of our global soil cover is damaged. We are losing more and more of good soil every day. With the population all set to reach new heights of 9 billion by the year 2050, soil pollution threatens to degrade our soil, poison our food and intoxicate the air we breathe in. Most of the waste is due to human activities such as unsustainable farming, untreated industrial and agricultural waste, etc. Even technology is now proving to be a threat.

What is the need for immediate steps for the conservation of soil?

The soil is an excellent carbon sink. It holds three times the amount of carbon as the atmosphere and will aid us in the changing climate. A billion people are suffering from hunger, while another 2 billion are suffering from malnutrition. Good soil and sustainable agricultural practices will help us feed them. And although 33% of our global soil is already degraded, we must keep in mind that 95% of our food comes from the soil. We cannot survive without it.

Meeting Sustainable Development Goals

Under Sustainable Development Goals Agenda for 2030, goals 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well Being), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and, 15 (Life on Land) directly or indirectly point towards responsible use of soil resources. India, as a party to the 2030 agenda, must also abide by these goals.

Way Forward

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, conservation and sustainable use of soil resources are essential to the reduction of the risk to food safety and the betterment of human health. By preventing soil pollution, and trying to reverse as much damage as we can, not only can we ensure our species thrives, we can thwart climate change and make this planet a better place to live in.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Soil is a neglected and much exploited resource, yet absolutely indispensible for the survival of humans as a species. Critically analyze.

Published: January 11, 2020 | Modified:January 12, 2020

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