Your primary concern in these discussions has to do with 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 feature in 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—in truth the bottomest of all bottom lines in which we have a say.
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. Even when we see the necessity for installing and maintaining best management practices to counter the forces of wind and water because of their impacts on air and water quality, rarely does our vision include the affect 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 our 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 frames we are used to. But soil loss? Here we’re talking remediation, not only out of our hands, but 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.
Think Greece 2,500 year ago when it was a veritable Garden of Eden. Then think about it now…for the most part a rocky, barren reminder of what lies in store for much of the world, including us. 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 true value of their precision and efficiencies will be felt by generations yet unborn…a pretty good opportunity, don’t you think?