262-1 Soil and 21st Century Societal Challenges.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017: 1:35 PM
Tampa Convention Center, Room 15
Soil and its processes are essential for human survival. This century soils are part of enormous and pressing environmental problems that require immediate and fundamental societal changes if we wish to maintain long-term human welfare. For example, human-induced climate change that drives arctic melting appears to be initiating a positive soil-climate feedback loop that will accelerate further greenhouse gas emissions. What can and should soil scientists do in the face of these, and other, sobering challenges? First, whatever we do or are involved in must ultimately impact policy. This is the most challenging issue for scientists and scientific societies: how do we implement change and maintain our integrity with the public? Second, the policy we affect must be solution-driven. While it is true that many details of challenging issues do require further research and associated funding, it is also true that in many cases we know enough about the sign and magnitude of soil-related processes that we can begin to suggest reasonable policy change to begin addressing the issues. To illustrate the effect of delays: a long-standing practice of policy makers skeptical or opposed to climate change regulation has been to “fund more research”. As a community, our acceptance of these resources and priorities has enabled political bad behavior by not demanding a fundamental change in funding priority to solutions and adaptation. Finally, we must be starkly honest when discussing what we can accomplish. The French “4 pour 1000” initiative – which advocates that soils can be used to sequester C and stave off climate change – is based on overtly optimistic (and likely unrealistic) science and economic scenarios. Feel-good solutions like this, untethered to likelihood of impact in the time scale required, work against us as a community. In conclusion, it now appears the landscape for science in America is rapidly evolving, and soil science should be an important part of science's evolving effort to effectively serve Americans and the world.
Previous Abstract | Next Abstract >>