In the United States alone, soil disappears 10 times faster than it is naturally replenished, according to the Cornell study, at an estimated rate of nearly 1.7 billion tons of farmland alone per year. And it comes at a financial cost, too, with the American economy losing roughly $37 billion in productivity annually from soil loss.
"There's nowhere near enough attention being paid to this issue," Montgomery said. "It's one of the key long-term issues that human society is going to have wrestle with in the next half century. We need to figure out how to turn those trends around."
A 2011 report from the Environmental Working Group argues that even current data may be underestimating the total loss of soil in the country's heartland, where rainstorms wash away earth on heavily tilled farmland. That soil, then, washes into the Mississippi River and onwards to the Gulf of Mexico, where the chemicals used for farming contribute to "dead zones" in the water, according to the study.
And what's happening in America mirrors a worldwide trend. The United Nations named 2015 the International Year of Soils in an attempt to raise awareness of the soil crisis, which they say has degraded 33 percent of the world's soil. With the world's population set to reach nine billion by 2050, the UN warns that food production from agriculture needs to increase by 60 percent just to meet the projected demand, a tall order if soil damage continues.
The threat may be so stark that leading UN officials told reporters last December that most of the soil relied upon by farmers could become so eroded or chemically degraded that it will disappear over the next 60 years.
Congress makes the following findings: (1) According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (referred to in this section as the ‘‘FAO’’), 805,000,000 people worldwide suffer from chronic hunger. Hunger and malnutrition rob people of health and productive lives and stunt the mental and physical development of future generations. (2) According to the January 2014 ‘‘Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community’’— (A) the ‘‘lack of adequate food will be a destabilizing factor in countries important to US national security that do not have the financial or technical abilities to solve their internal food security problems’’; and (B) ‘‘food and nutrition insecurity in weakly governed countries might also provide opportunities for insurgent groups to capitalize on poor conditions, exploit international food aid, and discredit governments for their inability to address basic needs’’.
It's America's responsibility to feed the whole world.
Unless you're selfish, like President Trump.
Sustainable Management Criteria Best Management Practice 1. OBJECTIVE The Department of Water Resources (the Department) developed this Best Management Practice (BMP) document to describe activities, practices, and procedures for defining the sustainable management criteria required by the Groundwater Sustainability Plan Regulations (GSP Regulations).1 This BMP characterizes the relationship between the different sustainable management criteria – the sustainability goal, undesirable results(such as not giving away billions of gallons of free water), minimum thresholds, and measurable objectives – and describes best management practices for developing these criteria as part of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)2 and GSP Regulations specify the requirements of a GSP. This BMP does not impose new requirements, but describes best management practices for satisfying the requirements of SGMA and the GSP Regulations.
A Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is not required to follow this BMP when developing a GSP, but whatever methodology is adopted by a GSA must be reasonable and supported by the best available information and best available science. (We can do whatever the fuck we want.)
While this document describes methods by which a GSA may approach the task of establishing sustainable management criteria recommended as best management practices by the Department, adopting the methods recommended in this BMP does not guarantee approval of the resulting GSP by the Department. Examples provided in this BMP are intentionally simplified and are intended only to illustrate concepts. GSAs should not consider the level of detail in any of these simplified examples (e.g., the number of minimum thresholds defined in a hypothetical basin, the number of minimum thresholds that constitute an undesirable result, etc.) to be appropriate for their GSP.
SGMA defines sustainable groundwater management as the management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without causing undesirable results.
The avoidance of undesirable results is thus critical to the success of a GSP.