8_Mar-PL-The_Human_Impact_on_Soils (2)

8_Mar-PL-The_Human_Impact_on_Soils (2) - The Human Impact...

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The Human Impact on Soils Soils are used for: Agriculture/Food Production (including wine-’cru’ or ‘terroir’) Timber Production (wood, pulp etc) Building (Foundations, bricks, wattle & daub, cob, aggregate, housing) Water Supply (wells etc)
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Medicines (Antibiotics, Kaolinite – Kaopectate etc) Industry (Aluminum ores, kaolinite –china clay, Rare Earth Elements) Domestic Waste (Septic fields, Sanitary landfills) Routes across the terrain (Roads, pipelines, airfields, railways, trails, off road vehicles.) Disposal of the dead (Cemeteries) Human Housing (Loess caves of China)
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Human Effects on the Soil Global Warming Accelerated Soil Erosion Soil Impoverishment Soil Pollution From: Chemical fertilizers, Large scale Animal production, Leakage from Septic systems, Leakage from Pipelines & Tanks of various types. Leachate from Sanitary Landfills)
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Global Warming Most scientists believe that Humans have played a role in Global Warming via the Industrial & Agricultural Revolutions. Global Warming effects on Soils: Changes in Soil Temperatures (including the melting of Permafrost & Cryosolic soils). Changes in Soil Moisture Regimes (Drier or wetter conditions). Changes in Vegetation Cover & Animal Communities (macro-, meso- & microfaunas including in the soil) Changes in Nutrient Cycles (Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen etc)
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Accelerated Soil Erosion Loss of topsoil & nutrients. This is a major problem. An item in the ‘Globe & Mail’ was about this phenomenon. Published on 24 January 2008. It stated that ~1m soil layer plays a critical role in supporting life on Earth & sustains most of our food. It went on to say that “We’re losing more & more of it every day… the estimate is that we are now losing about 1% of our topsoil every year to erosion, most of this is caused by agriculture” David Montgomery (University of Washington) The major processes involved are: Surface Runoff – wash, rilling & gullying Deflation (Wind erosion)
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This is not a modern problem: The great early civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia & the Indus Valley arose because of the productivity of rich alluvial soils along the banks of river systems. The Assyrian & Babylonian civilizations collapsed because of the decline in soil quality, poor land management & excessive irrigation Soil degradation caused power struggles, migrations & ultimately the collapse of the Fertile Crescent Empires & civilizations. The Maya civilization in Central America & the Harappan society of the Indus Valley both collapsed because of soil exhaustion & erosion. Some archaeologists believe that the collapse of the Bronze Age Minoan & other civilizations were also partially caused by similar soil problems
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Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, Steel, 1997& Collapse, 2005) stated that 90% of Easter Islanders died because of deforestation, erosion & soil depletion.
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2012 for the course GEOG 1600 taught by Professor Roger during the Fall '12 term at York University.

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8_Mar-PL-The_Human_Impact_on_Soils (2) - The Human Impact...

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