How Much Soil Do We Need, Who Gets to Decide, How, and Why?

Today a little tour through democracy in action.

Note the two anti-insect bands.

Given that a gram of soil continues 1 billion microorganisms, beating out seawater’s 1 million, how much topsoil does the Earth need to create an ecosystem supporting much of the life on Earth. This much?

That little pile of topsoil, removed by dump truck while the underlying clay was moved around by truck and dumbstruck, waiting to be spread out again, will have to do.

It is fascinating that permission to kill this ecosystem requires only permission from the Vernon City Planning Department. Here’s the finished product, as I’ve shown you before. This time, look how thin it is.

Now,consider how, in all the universe, only that thin layer lies between you and the empty void between the stars. Is this really the job of a city planning department? Now, just look to the left…

Does a soil moving certificate from the city planning department allow you to move a few million tons of soil and clay, level it out, and effectively remove a creek system, which is protected by other legislation, and for good reason? Apparently. Still, there is justice:

The water tap connected to the city water system leaks. This is how good our infrastructure is. Should be be planning for the short term like this? With a rust-out, in, I dunno, twenty years? Is that worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars of land-moving investment?

What about life itself? Is that the business of the Regional District Government’s Park Department? Two years ago, university students employed for the summer sprayed some hawk skeleton weed, a nasty invasive plant, with some truly toxic herbicide, along a walking trail. Two years later, an application spot looks like this:

They didn’t get the infestation. Here’s one I ripped out just up-slope a month ago and left as an art installation.

Here’s another patch.

Remember: there are environmental regulations that prescribe the eradication of such weeds.

Apparently, walking through poisoned soil doesn’t bother the hundreds of people who go past here every day. Should it? Or are they OK? Take a look at another patch from two years ago. See that skeleton weed rooting in the centre?

Now, watch.

Was that so hard? 

Is it the job of the Parks Department to eradicate weeds and kill soil in the process, while the seed source up the hill, on private land, goes untouched? Is this form of social display appropriate for the task at hand, of furthering life? And, if the task is not to further life, what is it? Here’s what clover thinks of that, if we should ask.

This is the bed of a gravel pit.


Here’s one Canadian answer:

This is the Ecologically Responsible Option

1 billion per gram? What do you think? What would it be appropriate to reduce that number to and maintain life on Earth? 1 million? 10,000? 1?

Here’s another Canadian approach:

Note the weed-killed, fertilized and mown ecosystem. Are there 1 billion organisms per gram here? Is a contracted landscaping company struggling to make a profit off a cut-rate contract maintaining the yards of an entire subdivision, the right group to assess this? Are the land owners? The covenants placed by the property developers?

Are there land owners?

In the Canadian language: “Problem Deer”

Ah, there are.

Canada prides itself on its democratic system, from the Greek: Deme, or Demos, a subdivision. Is that appropriate? Please discuss with one of the soil architects, making soil by luring bees, wasps, beetles, flies and birds out of the sky.

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