There is a new book out that I guess you can put into the science category because it is about dirt. But it also fits into social science because of what we as people/cultures/societies do to dirt and the sort of relationship we have with it. Now by dirt I don’t mean, oh I got my sleeve dirty, but soil, earth, the stuff we walk on, grow food in and build houses and cities on.
The book is called The Ground Beneath Us. It is by Paul Bogard, who also happens to be a Minnesotan, dontcha know! I have only read the introduction but already I have been given reason to pause and think, and now I am going to share the cause of that thinking pause with you!
we have some sixty-one thousand square miles of paved ground in the United States, an amount that together would be the twenty-fourth largest state by surface area, larger than any state east of the Mississippi. We now have more square miles of pavement in the lower forty-eight than we have square miles of wetlands, and every year a million new houses and ten thousand new miles of asphalt encase more natural ground. This isn’t happening only in the United States, of course. Since 1950, the paved surface area in the European Union has grown 78 percent while the population has grown 33 percent, and in the ever-expanding cities of the developing world, the trend is true as well.
Bogard says that studies reveal most of us in the “industrialized world” spend 90 to 95 percent of our time indoors and when we do go outside we generally walk on concrete or asphalt or other paved surfaces.
This boggles my mind. It makes my heart sad.
When was the last time you stepped off the pavement? When was the last time you knelt on the ground? When was the last time your bare skin came into contact with the earth?