Soil degradation can take many forms, from erosion to salinization to the overall depletion of organic matter. The expression of soil degradation is broad, and so too are the causes. As the world population nears eight billion, and the environmental uncertainty of climate change becomes more manifest, the importance of our soil resources will only increase. The goal of this paper is to synthesize the catalysts of soil degradation and to highlight the interconnected nature of the social and economic causes of soil degradation. An expected three billion people will enter the middle class in the next 20 years; this will lead to an increased demand for meat, dairy products, and consequently grain. As populations rise so do the economic incentives to convert farmland to other purposes. With the intensity and frequency of droughts and flooding increasing, consumer confidence and the ability of crops to reach yield goals are also threatened. In a time of uncertainty, conservation measures are often the first to be sacrificed. In short, we are compromising our soil resources when we need them the most.
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