Our body is essentially soil and water. The quality of our soil and water determines the quality of our food, our body and our life. It is an unfortunate reality that in the last two generations — approximately sixty to eighty years — we have seriously impacted the quality of water and soil upon this planet. We have depleted the soil, our very body, and we are slowly turning it lifeless. You would have heard of a dodo extinction or a dinosaur extinction, but now, we are talking about soil extinction. The microbial life in the soil, which largely exists in the first nine inches of topsoil, has gone down. If there is no life in the soil, none of the crops will come up. There is enough scientific data to show that we have only eighty to hundred crops of agricultural soil on this planet left — a maximum of forty-five to sixty years, after which a serious food crisis on the planet is inevitable.
A serious depletion of soil means depletion of all life. In the last thirty years, insect biomass has gone down by eighty per cent. In the last fifty years, sixty per cent of the vertebrate population on the planet has disappeared. There are many more such statistics that look like doomsday. It is we, the last two generations, who have done this. With the industrial scale of agriculture and irresponsible industrial habits that we have developed, we have damaged the soil. We have to keep the soil alive, living, full of life. Only then does it nourish our life and every other life.
The real ecological issue
I have been asked many times, “What are the three major things that the world should focus on to undo the damage that has been done to the environment in the last 100 years?” I say, “The three things are soil, soil and soil.”
We talk of many different issues. We talk of carbon emissions, pollution at various levels. Right now, there is a misunderstanding in the world where civic issues are being projected as environmental issues. If plastic bags are floating around in your city, this is not an ecological issue but a civic issue. This can be fixed with enforcement of law and a little bit of awareness. If our rivers are polluted, they can be fixed in one or two years if you set up the necessary purification plants and enforce the law. We are labelling our irresponsible activity in the world as an ecological issue. The real ecological issue is soil. If soil is rich, there will be water. If soil is rich and there is enough vegetation on it, the air will be purified.
Our attention has to shift to the soil. As a part of this, we are unfolding a movement called Conscious Planet. Right now, it looks like climate change and ecology are the playgrounds of the rich and elite. This must change. Individual human beings should become conscious of the danger that we are facing. Ecological issues must become election issues. Governments must be elected for their concern for ecological issues.
Through Conscious Planet, we are seeing how to move a large part of the electorate in all the democratic nations to a conscious approach of how we manage, rejuvenate and revitalize our soil. Creating a Conscious Planet is what is most important.