A World Without Soil
The Past, Present, and
Precarious Future of the
Earth Beneath Our Feet
A scientist’s manifesto addressing a soil loss crisis accelerated by poor conservation practices and climate change. This book by celebrated biologist Jo Handelsman lays bare the complex connections among climate change, soil erosion, food and water security, and drug discovery.
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A World Without Soil recognized for the AAAS Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books for Young Adults
Praise for A World Without Soil
“Jo Handelsman is a national treasure, and her clarion call warning of a looming soil-loss catastrophe must be heard. Add her clearly written alarm to other future-shocks: climate change, pandemics, and mass extinctions.”
— Laurie Garrett, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World out of Balance
“The ground beneath our feet is slipping away as we lose the precious soil that sustains us. Jo Handelsman’s writing—as rich and life supporting as the soil itself—is a riveting warning. She tells us eloquently about the danger we’re in, but also what we can do about it.”
— Alan Alda, actor, writer, and host of the podcast “Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda”
A World Without Soil
wins Association of American Publishers 2022 PROSE Category Award: Government & Politics
About the Author
Jo Handelsman is the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and a Vilas Research Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Handelsman previously served as a science adviser to President Barack Obama.
Soil: An Invisible Crisis and Massive Climate Opportunity
Jo Handelsman talks with the Global Association of Risk Professionals on the Climate Risk Podcast about the threats to soil and the opportunities it holds.
April 13, 2023
Soil Health & The Microbiome on the Homeless Romantic Podcast
Jo Handelsman talks with Chris Jeffries on the Homeless Romantic Podcast about how the microbiology of soil and our guts are critical for environmental and mental health.
December 14, 2022
iFAST Seminar Series: A World Without Soil – Science and stewardship of our endangered natural resource
This seminar is part of the International Forum on Advanced Environmental Sciences and Technology (iFAST) seminar series at the University of Oklahoma. Jo Handelsman discusses the importance of soil, the reasons we are losing soil at devastating rates, and practices to improve soil health in this talk.
October 22, 2022
Science – Searching for solutions to our soil woes
Nature – A call for governments to save soil
The New York Review – The waste land
Learn More About Soil
Check out these books, articles, and websites to learn more about
the precious resource beneath our feet
Soil Science Americana: Chronicles and Progressions 1860─1960 by Alfred E. Hartemink
Te reo o te repo: Kei konei tonu au (The Voice of the Wetland: I Am Still Here) by Yvonne Taura and Bev Clarkson
What’s the Biggest Threat to Our Lives? (video) by Sadhguru and Conscious Planet