In a triumph of early modern hermeneutics, the Italian humanist Lorenzo Valla proved in that the Donation of Constantine was a forgery. This was done through intrinsic evidence of the text itself.
Soil degradation, therefore, poses a threat to food security, as it reduces yield, forces farmers to use more inputs, and may eventually lead to soil abandonment.
Unfortunately, the importance of preserving soil health appears to be overlooked by policy makers. In this paper, I first briefly introduce the present situation concerning agricultural production, natural resources, soil degradation, land use and the challenge ahead, to show how these issues are strictly interwoven.
Then, I define soil degradation and present a review of its typologies and estimates at a global level. I discuss the importance of preserving soil capital, and its relationship to human civilization and food security. Trends concerning the availability of arable agricultural land, different scenarios, and their limitations, are analyzed and discussed.
I argue that because of the many sources of uncertainty in the data, and the high risks at stake, a precautionary approach should be adopted when drawing scenarios. The paper ends with a discussion on the key role of preserving soil organic matter, and the need to adopt more sustainable agricultural practices.
I also argue that both our relation with nature and natural resources and our lifestyle need to be reconsidered. In the same document, the UN declares: They are our silent ally in food production.
We have to praise the UN and FAO for this much-needed initiative aimed at reminding us about how our life is inescapably dependent on soil and natural resources.
This is a fact that urbanized people often tend to forget as they live, culturally and physically, far away from the land, the soil and the food system. Consequently, our dependence on natural resources has been overlooked by intellectuals and cultured people, as well as by our economists, and in turn by society.
It is unfortunate that neo-classical economics, which we trust in making decisions about our future, simply excludes natural resources the biophysical side of our economies from its theories, considering them as nearly free and infinite, therefore not a matter of concern.
Issues such as pollution and climate change have gathered widespread attention, as have energy, water and the conservation of biodiversity, pushing policy-makers to take action. Concern about soil conservation has been raised by soil scholars and works have been produced to raise awareness among farmers, policy makers and society e.
Since the s, the concept of soil quality has become popular in the field for the USA see, for example, [ 8 ]. This is the first such report on this topic, and aims at raising awareness amongst both policy makers and lay people. Agriculture, the domestication of plants, animals, ecosystems and soils, is the practice by which we have produced our food and fueled our civilizations for more than ten thousand years.
It is of crucial importance to realize that soil health and water supply are the cornerstones agriculture is based upon. So much so, that there cannot be agriculture without water, and we cannot have vegetation and agriculture without soil.
This has helped meet world food demand and save hundreds of millions of people from starvation. Asia, for example, which was threatened by hunger and mass starvation as late as the mids, became self-sufficient in staple foods within 20 years, even though its population more than doubled [ 2426 ].
It must be highlighted that the doubling of global food production during the past decades has been accompanied by a massive increase in the use of inputs, such as synthetic nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticide applications and extensive use of irrigation and energy [ 151622293031 ].
The intensification of agriculture has also led to the degradation and exhaustion of soil and land, which is one of two topics this paper addresses.
Along with increased food supply and improved health conditions, world population has risen from 3 billion in to about 7—7. Since the s, however, there has been a slowdown in the growth of world agricultural production.
World cereal output stagnated and fluctuated widely [ 212425273238 ]. Food imports played an important role in allowing those countries that could afford it to meet the internal food demand and actually increase food consumption [ 27 ]. Experts warn us that addressing the stagnating yields of our most important croplands is of paramount importance; failure to identify and alleviate the causes of yield stagnation, or reduction, will have a major impact on the future of global food security.
Many issues, including yield reduction, have coalesced to determine agricultural trends in recent decades e.The Panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The scheme of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.
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