Distresses of desertification

Would you believe it if you were told that 2/3rds of the earth have reached “desertification”, the man-made process of turning fertile land into a desert? Would you take a step back to catch your breath if you heard that the “green revolution” which brought us GMO’s, chemical sprays, corn, and soy backfired? Does it seem far-fetched to consider that the recent refugee crisis in Syria was a result of man-made desertification?

Maybe you doubt it. But maybe you should think again.

Author and award-winning film director Josh Tickell answered a handful of the burning questions that we had in regards to his book, Kiss The Ground”, which has also been made into a feature documentary film of the same name. Many in Hollywood and beyond, such as Giselle Bundchen, Dr. Mark Hyman, Vani Hari ( the gal who revealed the chemical in Subway rolls and had them change it with public outcry), Amy Smart and Francis Fisher, have hopped on board to preach the “Kiss The Ground” gospel, spreading the word of how changes to your diet, kitchen and your day-to-day life directly affect our planet for the better or worse.

Author of Kiss The Ground”, Josh Tickell, was glad to clear some things up:


DC LIFE MAGAZINE: How can it be that we can reverse climate change?


Actress Francis Fisher reads from Kiss The Ground”

Josh Tickell: We need to start thinking about carbon in the atmosphere as a specific quantity. Usually, we speak about CO2 as a concentration (example: 400 parts per million). While ppm is useful as a level, it doesn’t give us a clear goal. Here’s a more helpful way to look at it: to date humankind has put about 1,500 Gigatons (billion tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere. We’ll put at least another 500 Gigatons up there before any real efforts get underway to sequester CO2. While these numbers are still approximate, 2,000 Gigatons gives us a clear quantity. Next question: where do we put it?

The largest carbon “sinks” are the oceans and the soils of planet Earth. Unfortunately, the oceans are maxed.

DC: There is a relation to Syria’s refugee crisis here. How so?

JT: The underlying water resources of any region including aquifers are governed by the interactions between the soil and the plants on the soil. The Syrian refugee crisis is a knock-on effect of the man-made process of “desertification” in which land is cleared of vegetation, drained of water and turned into desert. Desertification has dried out much of the once-fertile Middle East including the very birthplace of agriculture, the Fertile Crescent.

In the case of Syria, as wells went dry and farmers fled to the cities, the nation became unstable. From there, Syria has disintegrated in a similar way to the twenty-some-odd civilizations that have practiced what I call “desertification-based agriculture.” It bears mention that, while the United States is not currently on the list of fallen civilizations due to mismanagement of their soil resources, our country is rapidly desertifying its arable soils.

DC:Kiss The Ground” reveals to us that since 1980 we’ve lost 1/3 of earth’s farmable land. Why?

JT: When the soil is left bare or exposed, as is the case in most agriculture, we lose soil due to erosion through water runoff or wind carrying the soil away. Once the topsoil is gone, often what is left is rocky, hard subsoil. This is not farmable and leads directly to desertification. The “green revolution” of genetically modified organisms and exponentially more chemicals that began in the late 1970s and has continued through today has accelerated this process. The promise of more calories per acre was achieved but at the cost of destroying a huge percentage of the world’s land. This is particularly scary when you consider that population during the same period of time has ballooned. Exponentially more people and less land is a formula for a global crisis.

DC: Cancer has been linked to industrial agriculture in what way?

JT: There are a plethora of toxic chemicals that are sprayed on food as

pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. In the United States, it amounts to about 1 billion pounds annually or about 3 pounds per person per year. There are over 200 peer-reviewed studies that correlate the spraying of these toxic chemicals with health effects including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pediatric cancer, and so on.


Actress Amy Smart

DC: What tips can you share about watching the foods we put into our bodies?

JT: Most importantly, do not eat anything that comes from a factory meat farm. These are probably the most toxic forms of food in terms of concentrated chemicals (from the soy and corn that is sprayed, which is then eaten by cows and chickens, which are themselves also sprayed). Pasture-raised meat is far healthier (but make sure it is “grass-finished”). There’s much more, and it’s all detailed in the book.

DC: Understanding this is revolutionary. How can we challenge a skeptic into opening their mind to these findings?

JT: We find a lot of people waking up to the power of soil because it is a multi-disciplinary solution. It doesn’t matter if you care more about global warming, or health, or water retention or abating fires or feeding the world – the soil is the key to solving all of these challenges.

DC: How can we get involved?
JT: Read the book. Watch the movie. Join the nonprofit. Save the soil, save the world.

Book trailer featuring Gisele Bundchen:

Visit Kiss The Ground” here: http://