Imagining multiple soil-based futures
Imagining multiple soil-based futures: Māori, Gamilaraay, non-indigenous and artistic perspectives on reviving soil health by 2050
Monday 8 November 2.00pm – 3.30pm
Kelvin Gallery, University of Glasgow (and online)
We need to talk about soil. Today, widespread land clearance and intensive farming practices are degrading land and eroding soil worldwide. Extreme weather associated with climate change is projected to worsen the situation. Many countries are already losing soil ten to one hundred times faster than it is produced, jeopardising food, water and economic security. This is urgently unsustainable. We rely on soil to supply 95% of global food production and to regulate Earth’s climate (soil stores triple the amount of carbon than the atmosphere). By 2050, the human population is set to reach 9.7 billion and our planet will warm by at least 1.5 °C relative to preindustrial times. “Imagining multiple soil-based futures” aims to open up conversation among indigenous and non-indigenous experts and environmental artists about their visions for the future of local, national and global soil health.
Since the dawn of Homo sapiens, human societies have worked with the soil in various capacities to survive and thrive. A wealth of knowledge has been generated over hundreds of thousands of years, some of which remains alive today, practiced by Indigenous Peoples. New knowledge has also been created through the scientific process and the birth of the soil science discipline. Just as ubiquitous as soil itself, so too is expertise on its health and hopes for its future. This event aims to create a space in which expertise and hopes can be shared across cultures in a respectful way, especially in light of the entwined nature of soil health, Indigenous food sovereignty, land rights and ways of life.
This event has three sections: expert presentations, an experimental film and a roundtable conversation. Presenters include Dr. Jo Handelsman, former senior science advisor to President Obama and author of the forthcoming book A World Without Soil; Garth Harmsworth, Principal Māori Researcher and senior environmental scientist at Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research, Aotearoa-New Zealand; Jacob Birch, a Gamilaraay academic working to revive First Nations’ foodways in Australia; and Dr. Stuart Kauffman, a MacArthur Fellow and theoretical biologist.
They are joined by award-winning filmmaker Morag Mckinnon, celebrated composer Jim Sutherland, and Professor of Education Robert Barratt for a roundtable discussion. Morag and Jim’s film When Fish Begin to Crawl contextualises the climate crisis by taking viewers on an impressionistic journey through life on Earth, as it played out across Europe’s’ largest peat bog: the vast carbon store that is Caithness.
The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021. The meeting will bring countries together to work towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Part of the COP26 activities at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow