Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SteveReviews: Kiss The Ground

Everyone has heard the narrative of how fossil fuels and deforestation is fuelling both climate change and the ongoing ecological crisis. Another factor within this complex web of interactions also driving negative impacts on the climate, is the global scale of soil erosion and degradation. Over the generations, agriculture and released carbon that was once locked up in the land that is now in the atmosphere as the infamous gas carbon dioxide. Kiss The Ground focusses on the effects this causes and solutions to the problems by turning to regenerative agriculture to save both the planet’s topsoil and the planet. By current estimates, there are only about 60 harvests worth of topsoil left on the planet before we will no longer be able grow most monoculture crops – which is a scary and daunting future.

Some of Kiss the Ground will be familiar to those of us working in the conservation sector (as most of these films tend to), however it is based more to the generalist viewer. It has been cleverly put together so that that don’t need a university-level understanding of science to recognise the consequences of our inactions. There is also a visual dichotomy between what soil-friendly farming looks like and what it doesn’t, highlighting the over-use of pesticides and fertilisers that alter the ecology of soils. This is quite clearly displayed when agronomist Ray Archuleta bends down to grab up a handful of dry, dead dirt and explain what’s happened. All of the micro-organisms have been killed, the carbon content is low and the soil has essentially become dust. You don’t need to read a John Steinbeck novel to realise what this means for our food production and society.

Despite all of the doom and gloom, Woody Harrelson narrates this documentary film that does have hits of optimism and solutions to the many problems that our modern agriculture has created. There are a number of regenerative farmers out there that are using nature to their advantage, to grow higher yields of crops that are more resilient to extreme weather. This also has the added benefit of increasing the microbe growth, plant growth and carbon capture. For far too long, we’ve seen soil as a commodity that can be topped up with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides but in reality this system just isn’t sustainable.

Despite your views on climate change, surely the most important thing to you is ready access to affordable food. With the way things are going, with desertification the future of food security is uncertain. However with holistic regeneration, this can be turned around and at the same time carbon dioxide will be captured from the atmosphere. All of this sounds good on paper but unfortunately politics gets in the way (as it does with most solutions to the problems we are currently facing as a society/species). I’m personally sceptical about how effective regenerative agriculture can be due to these limitations but after watching Kiss The Ground, I’m hopeful for the future and maybe you will be too.

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