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> 'If we continue to degrade the soil at the rate we are now, the world could run out of topsoil in about 60 years, according to Maria-Helena Semedo of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.'

I don't personally find these type of 'we only have x years to save y!!!!' statements have much impact on me any longer because firstly there seems to be a new one every week, and secondly humanity would act to prevent whatever cataclysm is prophesied (as it is, in fits and starts, with climate change).

And on this one in particular, and as I always say when it comes to ecological catastrophes: what about population control?






Yeah, this is the tradeoff of HN -- Just about anybody can get a wild headline to the frontpage.

Sometimes this is great, because that wild headline is an important truth that is ahead of what we normally take seriously. But 90%+ of the time it's non-replicable crap you'll never see again (e.g. cancer almost cured for the 3,125th time!)


As for topsoil - it has happened before.

Whether we're talking about multi-continental with the bronze age collapse, or we're talking corporate with the US Dust Bowl, people always ask - why didnt anybody do something?

You're assuming people knew there was something to do. You're assuming the people with those means were not instead racing to extract the most profit, just like an oil company.

One local-scale solution is really quite simple, but doesn't lend itself to industrialized single-crop agriculture. Look for "permaculture food forests" in you favorite search engine. Maybe see the results on youtube.

By planting pines with deep taproots, and cutting them off at 6' tall once a year and leaving the yearly growth to rot, you feed the topsoil from above. With the nitrogen-and-phosphorous fixing symbiosis at those same pines' roots, you feed the topsoil from below.

This process takes decades, instead of centuries, because it is deliberate. You can get a head start - now - for you and yours.


As for not responding to deadlines for large social issues - when is the last time you saw a tropical depression form over the US? And then b-line to the gulf of Mexico, to become a freaking Hurricane, and then attack the US?

Al Gore was right.

"I dont respond well to X." "I dont want that to be true." "I dont want to believe that."

Facts and Stats dont care about "whether you respond" - you sound just like a MAGA-hat when confronted with the actual damning contents of the Mueller report.

Welcome to the fruits of Capitalism - if there is a resource to exploit, we're going to burn through it until its gone. Exponentially fast. Whether that's topsoil for food, or sand for circuit-board silicon, or oil underneath the dirt. Or helium for lasers, balloons, etc...

Here we are, able to see it coming. And you're letting the most evolutionarily-throwback-ish part of your brain hijack your thinking. "If I hold still and close my eyes as a little lizard, there wont be a problem."

Have some discipline. Maybe show that you've evolved. Maybe, just maybe... Understand that civilization is not as robust as you think.

We can all be like Detroit. Coast to coast United Serfs in Abandonia. That was the Great Depression.

We can burn out the land. The Bronze Age Collapse, the Dust Bowl, the Mound-builders' corn collapse, the desertification of Egypt's Nile-adjacent farmland. All of these cultures simply disappeared.

Human Civilization faces extinction, I want you to understand that your toys will not save us. You children and their children, your entire civilization will suffer and die, and leave nothing living behind but roaches and vines.

All because you thought it was fine to say, "fuck it, I got mine."


Could you please stop posting in the flamewar style to HN? and also not use the threads here for ideological battle? These things degrade communication between people and are generally not what this site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


That's not what I'm saying at all! I'm firstly criticising the use of a particular rhetorical device that I think has become ineffective, and secondly pointing out the inconsistency when those that would advocate all kinds of draconian interventions in our daily lives yet refuse hysterically any contemplation whatsoever of controlling our numbers as a species.

While reducing population is necessary and helpful, humans’ ability to consume is infinite, especially as it is a good proxy for power and hence a mating signal. An attitude change in our want to consume is also necessary.



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