Guide Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations

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He has travelled widely and studied how cultures fail when they let their soil erode. His writing style is superior as is his commitment to his subject of interest. If you w ant to get down in the dirt about how to survive, this is the most important book to read. I rarely put my Oasis down before I finished it.

Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (David Montgomery) - review

My primary interest now is soils. My mission is to do things as close to perfectly on my one quarter of an acre. The first premise is no tilling, using cover crops, composting, and moving into planting as many perennial food trees, shrubs, etc. Read it, read it.

Dave Montgomery - Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations

Do not let whatever soil you have blow away or wash away. Cherish your dirt as the most important thing you have because it is. July 31, - Published on Amazon.

ISBN 13: 9780520258068

This is the dirt the scoop all right. It is a highly important book. Every policy maker in Washington and all the world's capitals should read it. This book gives a side of history that has been left out of the usual history books. And that is really too bad. This information needs to become widely known. There are a variety of eye-openers here, about numerous periods of history.

This book not only teaches about agriculture and the misuse of land and soil, it also reveals a side of colonialism we usually do not think about. This colonialism has not yet completely disappeared. From another perspective: Never before have I appreciated the "humble" earthworm so much as I have since reading it. I never knew about rock weathering and the fact that earthworms literally create soil from rocks. We should bow down to earthworms. They make it possible for us to eat and live. The writing style is easily read. Yet emotionally, I find it hard to read more than one chapter at a time.

I seem to need rest between them. They are very filling.

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December 28, - Published on Amazon. Are humans capable of learning from past mistakes? I consider myself more soil literate than most people, enough to recognize the process of desertification on the ground. Walking the reader through a history of agriculture throughout the world, Montgomery introduces different soil types and climate issues, as well as the social-political circumstances that contributed toward erosion and collapse of past civilizations.

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While some regions lost their soil and permanently collapsed, others recovered enough to allow the same mistakes to play out again and again. In general, agriculture and urban centers arose, cultivating the most favorable, typically level plots. Food production enabled a bigger population, which then added pressure to deforest and plow hilly uplands, resulting in a surge of erosion. Sometimes too slowly to perceive in human terms, erosion deteriorated the uplands and often buried the lowlands. Crop harvests crashed, and people either starved or migrated elsewhere, leading to collapse of civilization after a few centuries.

The land was abandoned. Nature began to form new soil from bedrock, and many centuries later, people returned to make the same mistakes all over again. Not only did the boom and bust cycle repeat, but keen observers such as Aristotle and Plato diagnosed the problem and witnessed the remains of past civilizations, yet, they too were unable to change the outcome. It is easy to imagine some future soil sleuth will write a book about the collapse of the American empire due to soil loss.

Maybe they will even find an old, tattered copy of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization, and they will see that David Montgomery, like Aristotle and Plato, strived to call attention to the health of the soil. April 13, - Published on Amazon. For example, the soils of the Mediterranean basin were largely destroyed by 2, years ago, and they remain wrecked today.

The Cultural Politics of Dirt in Africa – 1880-present

They are quite likely to remain wrecked for many, many thousands of years. Much of the region that once fed millions is a desert today. Life does not have an undo button. The disease often advances so slowly, over the course of generations, that nobody realizes the mistake.

There is no wonder cure. Game over. In Europe , many farmers were quite careful to do what they could to slow erosion, and improve fertility, using time-proven techniques, because starvation was the alternative.

American settlers promptly threw these prudent practices overboard, because they were time-consuming, and because there was an unbelievable supply of fertile soil that was readily available. In the New World , dirt was a disposable commodity. Settlers could get rich quick by raising tobacco and cotton. A field of rich virgin soil could support three or four crops of tobacco, and then it would be abandoned. It was cheaper to pack up, move on, and clear new fields than it was to manure the fields they had already cleared.

This careless attitude fueled an explosion of erosion and deforestation. One gully near Macon , Georgia was 50 feet deep, feet across, and yards long. Soil exhaustion was a primary driving force behind the westward expansion of the colonists. Rape and run agriculture seems to have set the mold for the emerging American mindset. In the twentieth century, when farmers bought millions of big, powerful machines, the 10, year war on soils mutated into a new and horrifying form.

Erosion rates skyrocketed to levels never before believed to be possible, leading to catastrophes like the Dust Bowl. With current agricultural technology though, we can do it a lot faster. Without food, our entire techno-wonderland turns into fairy dust and blows away. Sorry kids! On a bright note, Montgomery gives us a quick tour of Tikopia, a society on a tiny island that is one of the few exceptions to the rule.

They seem to have devised a sustainable form of agriculture that majors in agroforestry food-producing trees.

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They combined this with a draconian method for maintaining a sustainable population, which was far less painful and destabilizing than the effects of over breeding. Looking toward the future, Montgomery foresees a large number of serious problems.

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  • Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David R. Montgomery.

Explosive population growth continues.