Hmwk_04SoilErosion - ESM 203: Earth System Science Homework...

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ESM 203: Earth System Science Homework 4 Tom Dunne 27 November 2007, due 6 December 5:00 pm Carl Legleiter (via e-mail to Carl) Soil Erosion, Soil Conservation: The Policy Debate The readings for this homework exercise are in the course reader and on the web page. They provide an introduction to an important policy debate that is emerging in this nation and within international funding and development agencies. This exercise asks you to explore six short papers on the subject and to articulate the major issues being debated. (1) The first paper by Douglas [1990] gives many (out of many more) examples of erosion accelerated by land use and sedimentation that occurs on a scale large enough to cause significant problems for societies. (2) The next paper, by the ecologist Pimentel and his students [ Pimentel et al. , 1995 ] , extends the concern about erosion’s effects on natural resources and water quality, and tries to quantify the associated economic costs. The authors also argue that the cost of soil conservation measures to reduce erosion across the US would be much less than the estimated costs of the erosion. (3) The follow-up commentary by the economist Crosson [1995 ] raises questions about Pimentel’s estimates of costs and benefits and the authorities they quote. (4) In 1999, the geomorphologist Trimble [1999 ] reported a long-running empirical study of soil loss from a single catchment, and used his results to motivate another questioning of Pimentel’s claims . . . (5) . . . thus prompting the embattled Pimentel to mobilize an ally (Skidmore) from the US Department of Agriculture to defend the proposition that soil erosion is an important threat to the nation [ Pimentel and Skidmore , 1999 ] . (6) Trimble and Crosson [2000] then joined forces to ask what is myth and what is reality in this debate over the appropriate level of concern and investment about the environmental damage caused by soil erosion. Homework assignment Read the various estimates and opinion pieces, and summarize the key points of the debate. What are the differences of opinion? What kinds of evidence do the two sides use?
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This note was uploaded on 08/06/2008 for the course ESM 203 taught by Professor Dozier,dunne during the Fall '07 term at UCSB.

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Hmwk_04SoilErosion - ESM 203: Earth System Science Homework...

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