The author’s main point: we treat our soil like dirt. From the Romans to the Mayans to the Palouse region of my home state of Washington, man beckons the demise of civilization when he ignores soil exhaustion and erosion. Soil, the life-giving natural resource so unappreciated by even those who work it, when degraded, cannot feed the populations originally made possible by the invention of agriculture.
Montgomery, Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, calls for a philosophical shift whereby we recognize the ground under our feet as “the living foundation of material wealth” and thus treat our soil as an ecological, rather than industrial system. Among the opinions well-supported in Dirt: that cheap food is not the solution to eliminating hunger for a boundless world population, and that with oil supplies disappearing, the days are numbered today’s petroleum-based agriculture.
Covering geology, the history of soil science and accounts of societies who have destroyed, as well as those that have enriched their soil; this book is a thorough and enlightening treatment of the topic.
University of California Press http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520258068