In light of the current economic
situation, we’ve been focusing on the efficiency with which you are able to
marshal your resources of leadership, knowledge, people, and equipment to move
dirt…and ultimately to prosper. That’s where our focus will continue to lie, and
that’s why you’ll want to check in with our “Technology in Construction” column
every issue. But there’s another matter here that is all too often overlooked,
or if considered, apt to be regarded as pretty much a regulatory matter…soil
conservation, the bottomest of all bottom lines.
Before you can so much as scratch the
surface of an acre-or-larger parcel of land, you have to create and swear vile
oaths to live up to stormwater and erosion control plans that often seem to
be—and sometimes are—exercises in governmental overzealousness (efforts we cover
in great depth in our Stormwater and
Erosion Control magazines). Even when
we see the necessity for installing and maintaining best management practices to
counter the impacts of wind and water on air and water quality, rarely does our
vision include the effect our activities are having on the most precious and
irrecoverable of all natural resources, the dirt itself.
Right now, energy has front stage in
our pantheon of public concerns, and without belittling its importance (after
all it’s the focus of another sister publication, Distributed Energy) its challenges are
far less daunting than those of either air or water quality. But even those
challenges pale by comparison to soil loss. It’s one thing to deal with dust and
turbidity where we have the means to limit and remediate situations in time in
our own lifetimes. But soil loss? Here we’re talking remediation not only out of
our hands, but out of processes that operate in geologic terms, where the
replacement of just one millimeter of new topsoil will not occur in your or even
your children’s lifetime.
There are areas in the US that have
lost over half their topsoil in the last 100 years, and it’s not coming back! So
while the new tools and the revolution they support are important to your
prosperity, the results of their precision and efficiencies will be felt by
generations yet unborn.