Disappearing dirt rivals global warming as an environmental threat
Andy Rogers / P-I
The planet is getting skinned.
While many worry about the potential consequences of atmospheric warming, a few experts are trying to call attention to another global crisis quietly taking place under our feet.
Call it the thin brown line. Dirt. On average, the planet is covered with little more than 3 feet of topsoil — the shallow skin of nutrient-rich matter that sustains most of our food and appears to play a critical role in supporting life on Earth.
“We’re losing more and more of it every day,” said David Montgomery, a geologist at the University of Washington. “The estimate is that we are now losing about 1 percent of our topsoil every year to erosion, most of this caused by agriculture.”