Green Book Club Meeting: Dirt - The Erosion of Civilisations
  • Room 003, Babbage Building (This room has disabled access - if the ground floor door is locked, please ring 01752 588400.)

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This Plymouth Green Book Club meeting will be discussing the book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilisations by Professor David Montgomery.

Dirt, soil, call it what you want - it's everywhere we go. It is the root of our existence, supporting our feet, our farms, our cities. 

This fascinating yet disquieting book finds, however, that we are running out of dirt, and it's no laughing matter. An engaging natural and cultural history of soil that sweeps from ancient civilisations to modern times, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilisations explores the compelling idea that we are - and have long been - using up Earth's soil. 

Once bare of protective vegetation and exposed to wind and rain, cultivated soils erode bit by bit, slowly enough to be ignored in a single lifetime but fast enough over centuries to limit the lifespan of civilisations. A rich mix of history, archaeology and geology, Dirt traces the role of soil use and abuse in the history of Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, China, European colonialism, Central America, and the American push westward. We see how soil has shaped us and we have shaped soil - as society after society has risen, prospered, and ploughed through a natural endowment of fertile dirt. David R Montgomery sees in the recent rise of organic and no-till farming the hope for a new agricultural revolution that might help us avoid the fate of previous civilisations.

All are welcome to this free event and it is not essential to have read any or all of the book. There are many articles online that make excellent supplements to the book, for example, research by Sheffield University. Contact Alan Ramage for further information (email: menzalan@blueyonder.co.uk).

Plymouth Green Book Club is supported by the University of Plymouth and the Eden Project.

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