Approach to soil abuse is the test for our time

16 June 2022, Martin Doeswijk

These are exciting times for school-leavers. When I was that age, I remember cleaning my room and even the windows until there was no other possible distraction and I had to get stuck into my books and start doing my mock exam papers. And that it all worked out fine in the end. Procrastination is a very common motivation problem, and there’s no way you won’t recognise it, as it affects 95% of people!

Indeed, procrastination is an all too human habit, but it undermines our approach to major societal issues, such as soil abuse. Our lifestyles are exhausting the soil, with three quarters of our soils being in a poor state of health as a result. Although we’re aware of the problem, we don’t have a clear idea as to how to solve it. Or we pass the buck.

Consequences that are evident already are scarcity and nigh on unaffordable primary raw materials, bringing infrastructure and construction projects to a standstill. Which we simply cannot allow, given the scale of the replacement and renovation tasks we’re faced with when it comes to artworks, housebuilding and climate challenges, and the transition to sustainable mobility. As well as the extensive opportunities in terms of circularity and revitalising soils, for instance.

Ensuring soil health and the pace at which we ought and must home in on this issue is one of the tests for our time. As an old Dutch adage goes, procrastination breeds cancellation, posing a serious threat not only to our approach to soil abuse but also to all major societal challenges. After all, we’d rather do something enjoyable now, even though we know that that will produce a worse outcome further down the line.

And yet I’ll continue to harbour a hope that we’ll act on time (today!), just like during our exams. To prevent procrastination from turning into cancellation.


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