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Live at noon on February 3 will be coverage of David Montgomery's visit to UBC.

Prof. David Montgomery has discovered that the roughly 3 foot-deep skin of our planet is being slowly eroded away, and we are in danger of suffering the same fate as the fallen empires of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, and Rome.

Montgomery is the author of 'Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations,' which makes the case that we are using up Earth's soil. Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain through agriculture, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, faster than they can be naturally replenished. The erosion is slow enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilizations. In this engaging lecture, Montgomery traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of societies, from Mesopotamia to European colonialism and the American push westward. He explores how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil.

Soil erosion should be seen as a threat to our planet as serious as climate change, contends Montgomery. Civilizations don't disappear overnight. They don't choose to fail. More often they falter and then decline as their soil disappears over generations. Although historians are prone to credit the end of civilizations to discrete events like climate changes, wars, or natural disasters, the effects of soil erosion on ancient societies were profound. Happily, the recent rise of organic and no-till farming brings hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilizations.

This event builds on the UBC Reads Sustainability Series which has hosted authors such as Stewart Brand and David Korten.

For details, click here:

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