Slicing It Thin (Loss of Valuable Topsoil)

By Barbara Nichols
Volume 1, Number 1 (Fall 1990)
Issue theme: "Inaugural issue"

Our earth and its resources are limited, yet our world populations continue to increase, and to use the earth's space and its resources.

Consider that an apple represents the earth. Slice the apple into quarters. Set three quarters aside, which represent the oceans of the world. The remaining fourth quarter represents the earth's land area.

Slice this "land" in half and set aside one of the pieces representing the land area that is inhospitable to people, such as polar areas, swamps, deserts, high or rocky mountains.

The remaining one-eighth piece is land where people live. Cut this piece into four sections, and set 3/32 aside. This is the land that contains cities, suburban sprawl, highways, shopping centers, schools, parks, factories, parking lots, and other places where people live and work but where food cannot grow.

Carefully peel the remaining 1/32 slice of earth. This tiny, fragile peel represents the very thin surface of the earth's crust upon which humans depend for growing crops.

Good topsoil, a most valuable resource, is often only a few inches thick, and one windstorm or rainstorm can easily remove what nature took 100 years to build.

Wise use of the land and soil conservation are essential to everyone.

Written by Barbara Nichols and reprinted with

permission from Michigan Natural Resources, a

publication of the Department of Natural Resources

of the State of Michigan.

About the author

Barbara Nichols is employed by the State of Michigan, Department of Natural Resources.