Sadhguru: We must move fast to save our soil from dying

The planet has enough soil for only another 80 to 100 crops, which will last 60 years at the most. Sadhguru, author and founder of the Isha Foundation, says that because we are removing organic content from the soil, 40% of the world’s topsoil is gone. He says we still have 15 to 25 years to turn things around, otherwise we will soon be living in the desert. Sadhguru took part in a brief Q&A with LSE Business Review’s managing editor, Helena Vieira, during the World Economic Forum’s Great Narrative Meeting in Dubai.

LSEBR: In the meetings you kept repeating one word: soil, soil, soil.

Humanity is facing many issues — economic challenges, lack of inclusion, disparity… Soil is an issue that we must attend to now, or we will regret it as a generation. Every scientific study is clearly pointing out that we have enough soil only for another 80 to 100 crops — 45 to 60 years maximum. In another 30 years’ time, there’s going to be a serious food crisis. That is inevitable, it’s going to happen. At the same time, our population will be over 9 billion. I am not a doomsayer. Responsible scientists are pointing to this scenario. And this is not new in the history of the world. The Mayans, the Mesopotamians, and the Romans did the same thing: they over-farmed their lands—and their civilisations collapsed. Today this is not limited to one geographic location, it’s happening across the world. What is this about? We are turning living soil into a dead thing. Soil is a living entity: 87% of life on this planet is lived within the first 12 inches of soil, which is dying at an unimaginable rate, to a point where 80% of the insect biomass is already gone. That happened in the last 30 years. And they’re saying that by the end of the century, more than 50% of the bio-organisms or micro-organisms will be extinct. When that happens, you cannot revive the soil. So, if we act now, in the next 15 to 25 years, we can turn this around. If we act after 50 years, it will take 200 to 500 years to turn this around. To pull back one inch of topsoil normally takes 500 years.

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