Gaining ground: Sadhguru and his global mission to save soil
Now Reading
Gaining ground: Sadhguru and his global mission to save soil

Gaining ground: Sadhguru and his global mission to save soil

Soil conservation and restoration is key to the survival of our species, says Indian environmentalist and spiritual leader Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev

Neesha Salian
SAVE soil Sadhguru

From undertaking a 100-day lone motorcycle ride across 27 countries, including the UAE, to clocking in 30,000 kilometres and interacting with government leaders, speaking at the COP15 summit in Cote d’Ivoire and engaging with communities along the way, 65-year-old Indian mystic, spiritual leader and environmentalist Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has chosen an unusual way to drive home the urgency of initiating government action and global awareness to alleviate the global threat of soil degradation. This crisis, Sadhguru emphasises, can no longer be ignored, as “time is running out”.

A new report from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) reveals that the way land resources – soil, water and biodiversity – are currently mismanaged and misused threatens the health and continued survival of many species on Earth, including our own. The report showed that up to 40 per cent of the planet’s land is degraded, which directly affects half of humanity and threatens roughly half of the global GDP ($44tn).

It also stated: “Conserving, restoring, and using our land resources sustainably is a global imperative, one that requires action on a crisis footing…Business as usual is not a viable pathway for our continued survival and prosperity.”

Tackling climate change
Soil, in particular, plays a critical role in promoting the survival of our species; it’s also an important weapon in our fight against climate change, largely due to the microbes that help make soil a living ‘entity’. According to the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), a teaspoon of topsoil contains around one billion individual microscopic cells and around 10,000 different species.
These microbes are vital to crop fertility. They help detoxify the environment from pollutants, regulate carbon storage stocks and production/consumption of many significant greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxides.

Soil, particularly agricultural soil, has the potential to sequester, relatively inexpensively, 250 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gases annually – equivalent to the annual emissions of 64 coal fired power plants, according to the US-based National Academy of Science. However, this precious resource is perishing very rapidly due to intensive farming methods and natural processes that are not only killing the insect biomass, but also making it difficult to grow crops, which should raise alarm bells with food security being a cause for major concern. According to a World Economic Forum report, by 2050, the world will have to feed over nine billion people, with the demand for food being 60 per cent greater than it is today.

Thus without changing agricultural practices and finding ways to preserve soil, the global food supply may be compromised in the coming decades. Timely action – within the next 15 to 25 years – can help turn the situation around, says Sadhguru. Any later than that can have a disastrous impact. The key to preserving soil is ensuring the organic content in it is between 3 to 6 per cent. However, with more than 27,000 species of micro-organisms going extinct every year, it’s going to get increasingly difficult to revive or produce soil. To put things in perspective, it can take up to 1,000 years to produce just 2-3 centimetres of soil, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Preserving soil
Offering a solution to enable change in time, Sadhguru has outlined a three-pronged strategy to raise the organic content of soil. These include providing farmers with incentives for reaching this target, simplifying the process by which farmers can take advantage of carbon credits, and developing a special label for foods grown from soil with the target levels of organic content and health benefits of these foods. Taking this message to the masses (Sadhguru’s goal: 3.5 million people) and engaging governments to introduce supportive policies – through the Conscious Planet initiative and Save Soil global campaign – has been a driving force for Sadhguru, who kicked off his solo motorbike journey in London this March.

The buy-in has been very encouraging. In the UAE, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Conscious Planet to work together to protect food-producing agricultural soil in the country from degradation. Seven Caribbean nations, Azerbaijan and Romania also signed MoUs with Conscious Planet to implement policies that contribute to soil preservation, while the Commonwealth of Nations, European Union and several pan-European organisations have shown their support. The French government’s ‘4 per thousand’ initiative, which aims to address climate change and increase food security through soil regeneration, has also signed an MoU with Save Soil. Additionally, organisations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, UNCCD, World Food Programme and United Nations Environment Programme have partnered with the movement.

Change is never easy, but with the support of these organisations and millions of people, Save Soil’s goals are a step closer. On our part, we need to be conscious of our deep connection to the soil and respect the crucial role it plays in our lives. Let’s make it happen.

You might also like


Scroll To Top