Talk:Human impact on the environment

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Anthropogenic[edit]

I find the second paragraph of this article to be confusing. "It is widely accepted that the production of Carbon Dioxide is the main culprit." Main culprit of what? 66.73.246.54 16:28, 19 January 2007 (UTC)Dan

"For instance, a scientific consensus holds that man-made carbon dioxide is the primary factor driving climate change."

Reference please? This is very much the opinion of the page author, not scientific fact.

Eolson8798 03:34, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

I wikilinked the supporting article that provides numerous references on this. Ben Hocking (talk|contribs) 13:34, 28 September 2007 (UTC)

I have added the entry under botany concerning anthropogenic plants Granitethighs (talk) 21:04, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

What about 'anthropogenic disasters'? I hear the term used in this context quite often, and it is not listed here. --78.86.74.193 (talk) 16:49, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

I just added something else to your article. Read the two references that I added and it will help you expand the article. Best,--Ambientalismo (talk) 23:07, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

hhhhh

This treatment mires the term "Anthropogenic" in global scale environmental change discussion (and politics). Common usage expands the term "anthropogenic" to small scale impacts and manual artifacts. For example, a pottery shard found on a stream side gravel bar is "anthropogenic". The term distinguishes the shard from surrounding stones of natural origin and from the natural fluvial process that placed the stone. Technical usage restricts the term "artifact" to portable objects excluding such impacts as burnt ground under a hearth, excavation pits left by early mineral resource mining (chert and pipe clay borrow pits in Ohio)and scarred culturally modified trees. "Anthropogenic" should not be redirected to this controversial entry. Anthropogenic is an essential term serving the highest order generic classification of objects and impacts under the umbrellas, natural agency and human agency. Knowandtell (talk) 13:47, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Headline: THE REAL TEMPERATURE RECORD

Very interesting! Here is the start: JOHN HINDERAKER, "As we have written a number of times, one of the basic problems in assessing the credibility of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory is that it has been difficult, if not impossible, to obtain raw temperature data for scientific analysis. The agencies responsible for publishing temperature data, not just in the U.S. but around the world, are committed to the global warming scare, which is the source of their » ..." — FYI, Charles Edwin Shipp (talk) 11:57, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Anthropogenic sources[edit]

Shouldn't these sources be refrenced. I agree that they are all Anthropogenic sources - but shurely there needs to be some criteria for inclusion. I mean by taking a broad inlusion you might say wkipedia is Anthropogenic. As it is it seems a bit like a list of anthropogenic effects that damage the enviroment - the cynical part of me thinks this may be a fork from climate change related pages. I may be wrong - not my field of experties. For the record (I have heard about the bun fight that is climate change on wiki) I definatly accept the scientific consesus on AGW. Ralphmcd (talk) 09:33, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

No consensus for a move. If Anthropogenic behaviour, which was raised late in the discussion, makes sense, I'd suggest discussing it here to see if there might be consensus to support that name. If there is consensus, then a new RM nomination or moving the article would be in order. Vegaswikian (talk) 21:44, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

AnthropogenicAnthropogenics — According to Wikipedia's policy on article title format, article "titles should be nouns or noun phrases" while "adjective and verb forms... should redirect to articles titled with the corresponding noun." Anthropogenics is the noun that corresponds to the adjective Anthropogenic, therefore Anthropogenics should be the title of this article while Anthropogenic should redirect here.--Neelix (talk) 16:12, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

This is absurd.[1] Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 18:30, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

Boris, please clarify why you think the suggestion is absurd. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 19:01, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
Click the link. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 19:35, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose in the absence of evidence that "anthropogenics" is actually used in the real word in this sense. Ucucha 00:10, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

*Oppose. I didn't see Boris' link before, although I also did a search in several dictionaries which turned up no evidence for the word's existence. No evidence I've found suggests there is a corresponding noun. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 02:12, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose this is not the study of anthropogenic stuff. 184.144.161.207 (talk) 04:54, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Support as nominator - All of the following sources employ the term anthropogenics as the noun form of the adjective anthropogenic: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12]. A word doesn't have to be in the dictionary to be a word. If the term is used in the field of study, which anthropogenics most certainly is, then it is a valid term to use here. Neelix (talk) 17:19, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
    • Yes, there are a few uses of the word. However, Google Books shows 52 results for "anthropogenics" and 275,000 for "anthropogenic". Ucucha 18:29, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

*Support. From the links shown, "anthropogenics" is used as the proper noun. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 17:42, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose as violation of WP:COMMONNAME. Don't be fooled by the link-bombing presented above: if you actually click on the links you see that the few known usages of this word are wildly varying and inconsistent, so that there is no commonly accepted meaning. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 18:47, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - WP:COMMONNAME explicitly specifies that the most common name to be used for the article must be a noun. Anthropogenic is not a noun, therefore it cannot be the common name. I also do not see how the links above are inconsistent in their use of the term anthropogenics; if they were all Wikipedia articles, it would be valid to link to this article from them. Anthropogenics is both the study of human impact on nature and the products of human impact on nature. This article deals with both. Neelix (talk) 15:30, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - The Google Books search shows that the noun is used, but not commonly. However, the fact that it is used at all might make it considerable for the article's title. WP:Commonname does not suggest that we have to use the most common name. WP:NOUN says we should use the noun form and adjectives should be redirect pages. We need to do that here; but I'm not sure if "Anthropogenics" is the right choice. But "anthropogenic" does not hold to WP:Noun's standards. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 08:21, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose "Anthropogenics" does not appear to be the N form of anthropogenic. Evidently a paraphrase is in order. Any suggestions? — kwami (talk) 07:48, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - As a descriptive linguist, I do believe that anthropogenics is the noun form of anthropogenic, but if the community is against naming this article as such, Anthropogenic behaviour would be an equally acceptable title. Neelix (talk) 21:52, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Article Name[edit]

The name appears to "anthropogenic" violate WP:NOUN. We have to find a better name. Anthropogenic behaviour was suggested (I'm not sure if this article uses British or American English). We may not be able to find any kind of appropriate noun - this is a special case neologism. The term doesn't describe one particular thing; its just "man made [pollution]". I'm no descriptive linguist, though. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 05:33, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

The more I think about it the more convinced I am that we don't need the article at all, which would obviate the naming problem. We certainly could have articles on Anthropogenic _fill_in_the_blank_ where the blank might be "greenhouse gas" or whatever, or related concepts such as human modification of the environment. But it's hard to see how the term itself, absent any context, can ever be more than a dictionary entry. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 05:59, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't think this article should be deleted. It isn't simply a partial title match disambiguation page, even though much of the article is formatted as such. The subject of this article is the impact that humans have on the natural environment. Anthropogenic behaviour is a concise way of phrasing that subject because all anthropogenic 'things' (effects, processes, materials, etc.) would have to be dealt with on an article about anthropogenic behaviour. Neelix (talk) 15:48, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that the term "anthropogenic behavior" is extremely uncommon in the wild. If the article is to exist we should title it with a term that people actually use. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 16:10, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
A disambiguation page makes sense. That's basically what this is, with a long dictionary entry at the top. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure how this could function as a standard disambiguation page. I think I'll publish a book about the noun form of "Anthropogenic" and one of you can cite me. Otherwise, it doesn't seem like this problem will ever be resolved.
Boris, I don't think it matters how common is the usage. We need to find the most common usage noun form: that's the only real restriction. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 05:22, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
Is there any reason apart from slavish adherence to The Rules that we need to use a noun form? Ucucha 14:17, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
No. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 14:55, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
There is good reason for not allowing articles to have titles that are adjectives. One major reason is that an adjectival title often signals that an article does not deal with an encyclopedic topic. When the topic is encyclopedic, it is often very poorly defined. At the moment, this article is tending towards becoming a partial title match disambiguation page; moving this article to a title that is a noun should prevent that occurance. Neelix (talk) 19:37, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
I have to agree with Neelix here. The page seems to deal with a non-encyclopedic issue, and is currently little more than a glorified disambiguation page; It briefly discusses the word and then links to articles on various types of pollution. It seems "anthropogenic" is just a word scientists sometimes use in reference to pollution, and little more. Is there any evidence to the contrary? --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 05:23, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
There was no consensus to move this page. I've moved it back. Now there is less. -Atmoz (talk) 15:39, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
I can't think of a more disruptive response you could have had. —SW— squeal 16:22, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Neelix, the current name clearly violates WP:NOUN. This would be like having Science redirect to Scientific. "Anthropogenic behavior" is a far more desirable title. —SW— converse 16:23, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Reverting a move isn't disruptive. You could have just reverted it yourself. But now that you've edited that page, it'll take an administrator to more it back. So your edit was far more disruptive. Haha. Dumbass. -Atmoz (talk) 18:31, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Requested move 2[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Moved by Short Brigade Harvester Boris to an appropriate title. NW (Talk) 17:17, 17 March 2011 (UTC)



AnthropogenicAnthropogenic behavior — Relisted. --rgpk (comment) 16:50, 8 March 2011 (UTC) The title of this article is currently an adjective, which violates WP:COMMONNAME, specifically the section at WP:NOUN which reads: "Use nouns: Titles should be nouns or noun phrases. Adjective and verb forms (e.g. democratic, integrate) should redirect to articles titled with the corresponding noun (Democracy, Integration)..." Anthropogenics was discussed above but didn't appear to have consensus, and Anthropogenic behavior was suggested and had support. If you oppose this move, please either suggest an alternative name or discuss why you believe the current title doesn't violate WP:TITLE.

  • Support as nom. —SW— confabulate 19:47, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. Neelix (talk) 22:31, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, article titles should be nouns. Powers T 02:41, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose, at least in this form. "Anthropogenic behavior" is an extremely uncommon term with no consistent meaning.[13] If we must use a noun let's find a term that people have heard of and actually use. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 03:34, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Boris, just not used much. I'm OK with some noun phrase, how 'bout anthropogenic impact ... fairs far better on google. Vsmith (talk) 04:00, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Additional comment In my view the most sensible and understandable title for the article would be "Human influence on the environment." All the other candidate terms could be redirects to it. A definition of the term "anthropogenic" would be appropriate for inclusion in that article if desired. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 05:03, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose per earlier discussions & arguments. There are many instances where 'behaviour' (or another noun in another case) wouldn't fit at all, e.g. "the fraction of anthropogenic gases in the atmosphere..." While there are reasons for wp:noun to tell us to avoid adjectives (democratic -> democracy, natural -> nature), this might a justified exception as there is no "parent" noun and any paraphrase could well considered a wiki-neologism. There is also much more than pollution that could be included in this article; for instance the human use of fire is considered to have had major effects on the environment since the Pleistocene. walk victor falk talk 11:14, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Brainstorming: Anthropogenic influence on the environment or perhaps Anthropogenic impact on the environment? —SW— yak 14:49, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Alternate move - Of the "x on the constructions considered thus far, the one that appears to be the most commonly used by far is Human impact on the environment. That is essentially the definition of 'anthropogenic' anyway, so even though it's a longer construction, if that's the common name, that should be where the article is moved. Neelix (talk) 16:44, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose all moves until someone actually writes an encylopedia article about something. Otherwise this is just masturbation without the payoff. -Atmoz (talk) 22:32, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - That appears to be the wrong way around to me; we need a descriptive title so that we can write a unified article, not a longer article so that we can figure out what to call it. Neelix (talk) 16:08, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
He's just trolling. Best to not take the bait. —SW— soliloquize 16:41, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment: are we sure that there isn't a way to noun-ify the word anthropogenic? Anthropogenicity? Anthropogenism? Anthropogenesis? Are any of these real words? 137.205.222.193 (talk) 19:46, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
    If you have to ask whether they're real words... Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 19:49, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
    Anthropogenesis is a real word, but it refers to the study of human origins, not the study of things that are originated by humans. Anthropogenism and anthropogenicity are both terms that have been used as noun forms of anthropogenic, but they aren't as common as anthropogenics, and even that term has been rejected in this series of discussions due to its uncommonness. If we're looking for the common name, it's looking like Human impact on the environment is the way to go. Neelix (talk) 16:01, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
    Agree. See vote below. Andrewa (talk) 15:37, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The proposed new title doesn't even describe the topic clearly. But agree that the current title violates guidelines (and suggest that it's similarly unclear as well). Agree that Human impact on the environment is the best proposal yet. Andrewa (talk) 15:37, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm ok with Human impact on the environment as well, although we might need to reword the lead a bit to get rid of the extended explanation of the word "anthropogenic". Anyone particularly opposed to Human impact on the environment? —SW— gab 16:53, 8 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support nomination as improvement to get title to noun or noun phrase. Human impact on the environment sounds good too. –CWenger (talk) 03:10, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Summary[edit]

It's been a couple weeks and looks like Human impact on the environment has the greatest support, so I'll go ahead and do the move. If anyone objects I don't mind them undoing it. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 03:57, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Orphaned references in Human impact on the environment[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of Human impact on the environment's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "epa":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 23:57, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Do to status in the table on Planetary boundaries add a wikilink to Human impact on the environment.[edit]

Do to status in the table on Planetary boundaries add a wikilink to Human impact on the environment. 99.181.147.10 (talk) 05:30, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

¿Que? The Spirit of Neutrality and Truth (talk) 05:39, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

The disambiguation just introduced simply does not work[edit]

There are several issues at stake here - we need a finer resolution of the matters under discussion:

Meaning of term

  • IMO we have not resolved by consensus exactly what we me by "anthropogenic". No doubt there are several senses (do you agree?) but based on the etymology it means "human-produced" (or similar expression). This is different from "Human impact on the environment" which is just one instance of something that is "human-produced". If you agree with this then conflating "anthopogenic" with "Human impact on the environment" is simply wrong. I much prefer a definition like: The word ‘anthropogenic' means caused or produced by humans which is shorter, simpler and more user-friendly than the current definition.

Does the current article "Human impact on the environment" have sufficient merit and utility to remain?

  • Human impacts on the planet are so diverse and so pervasive that essentially all human activity impacts on the environment in some way. How are we to express this as a set of headings and subheadings, that is, categories of human impact? This is a very difficult matter that is superficially simple. Unfortunately the article goes headlong into a set of arbitrary headings. But why "paint" and "meat" rather than "toxic chemicals" and "methane production by cattle"? Shouldn't "transport" be part of "energy"? In short, current headings like “Meat production”, “Roads” and “Paint” are virtually meaningless. What about “Childrens toys”, “Cows”, and “Public events” – a case cab be made that they are equally valid. IMO to overcome this difficulty we need extremely general headings like “Impacts on the atmosphere”, “Impacts on the oceans and water bodies”, “Impacts on land”. Or “Human impact on global geochemical cycles vital to life: water, nitrogen, carbon and oxygen” or somesuch. The article on Sustainability tackles, more effectively, the general idea of human impact. This article added little to this approach. IMO it is perhaps best removed and the useful content distributed in other articles. After all if we have an article 'Human impacts on the environment' why not 'Human impacts on the economy' - it just seems that the content is better placed under other headings.

Anthropogenic is not a noun

  • Although rules are very useful, sometimes it is good to ask what we are doing here. For me, a likely scenario for this word is someone reading in a newspaper about 'anthropogenic climate change'. They wonder what he hell this is, not having come across the word 'anthropogenic' before. How can we assist them? Yes, we could look for a noun to perhaps make the case simpler - but it seems there isn't one ... or at least not one that avoids ambiguity. So we can leave them to look elsewhere or we compromise. One side issue here is the extent to which WP can act as a dictionary. Perhaps they just look up 'anthropogenic' elsewhere. It is hard to imagine an article on this word. Could we have a heading that points out the complexities of the word and directs people to a range of WP articles and dictionary definitions. Although not very satisfying IMO this is better than the current article which, firstly does not really provide an accurate representation of the word itself and, secondly, needs radical re-organisation to adequately cover the topic it purports to describe.

I have deleted former comments of mine that got no response - these comments IMO are more to the point. If anyone feels offended about the deletion then then I can restore it.Granitethighs 08:10, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

Re-reading this it sounds rather negative. What I am trying to do is get feedback on an effective way forward for a difficult word (anthropogenic) and a difficult topic (Human impact on the environment) that at present is not there. I apologise for the annoyance caused by someone coming in "late" on a long discussion.Granitethighs 02:14, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Add biochemical impact section, as seen in article Planetary boundaries[edit]

Biogeochemical

Schlesinger 2009; Pearce 2009; UNEP 2010, pp. 28–29; Howarth 2010; Pearce 2010, pp. 33-34, "Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles".

  • (b) anthropogenic phosphorus going into the oceans (millions of tonnes per year) ... Current value: 8.5–9.5, preindustrial value: -1

Schlesinger 2009; Carpenter & Bennett 2011; Townsend & Porder 2011; Ragnarsdottir, Sverdrup & Koca 2011; UNEP 2011; Ulrich, Malley & Voora 2009; Vaccari 2010. 99.181.139.210 (talk) 02:24, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

This treatment mires the term "Anthropogenic" in global scale environmental change discussion (and politics). Common usage expands the term "anthropogenic" to small scale impacts and manual artifacts. For example, a pottery shard found on a stream side gravel bar is anthropogenic. The term distinguishes the shard from surrounding stones of natural origins and from the natural fluvial process that placed the shard in its temporary context. Technical and common usage restricts the term "artifact" to portable objects excluding such impacts as burnt ground under a hearth, excavation pits left by early mineral resource mining (chert and pipe clay borrow pits in Ohio) and scarred trees in Oregon, culturally modified trees exhibiting characteristic peeled bark scars. "Anthropogenic" should not be redirected to this controversial entry about anthropogenic influence on climate change. Anthropogenic is an essential term serving the highest order generic classification of objects and impacts under the umbrellas, natural agency and human agency. Simply stated, "anthropogenic" means 'of human agency' and describes any thing or impact made or modified through human agency. Please leave the climate change debate under the current heading and move a discussion of anthropogenic agency to "Anthropogenics" or "Anthropogenic agency", not "Anthropogenetic behavior" (contemporary context restraints). Knowandtell (talk) 13:47, 26 November 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Knowandtell (talkcontribs)

I haven't been following this discussion, having come upon this article only recently. Wouldn't the old disambiguation page here be an improvement, though it is apparently disparaged above? I'm unable to make sense at this point of the old discussions, for example Talk:Anthropogenic. Sminthopsis84 (talk) 16:33, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

Found no discussion yet on the merge proposal, so here. Agreed. I'm for the merger of Environmental issue into Human impact on the environment, but I think that this article would have to be made comprehensive to make it worth it. There are multiple issues listed in the list of environmental issues that aren't touched upon here and might be swept under the rug a little bit if not given proper attention with sections and/or proper links. Karmos (talk) 21:19, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Oppose. I created Environmental issue as a sort of short form definition page and there are now plenty of incoming links to it. The two articles compliment each other - one a shorter definition and the other a longer treatment. Any issues with coverage can be fixed with editing. -- Alan Liefting (talk - contribs) 22:01, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Agree with Alan. "Human impact on the environment" leads to excessively awkward titles for subtopics with a more specific focus. Environmental issues with salmon is much more straightforward than something like "Human impact on the salmon environment". Another candidate title, when species are involved, might be something to do with habitats, such as "Habitat threats to salmon" --Epipelagic (talk) 07:52, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Subtopic suggestion[edit]

I'm still new here, but I'm eager to contribute. I faced a lot of problems when I decided to hire a cleaner. Most of them use non-eco friendly product. I did a lot of research on the subject - enough to stay away from them... I picked "Cleaning House - London" for their eco-friendly guarantees. So here's the idea: Include a subcategory of trusted organisations, dedicated to inspecting and verifying the origin and eco-friendliness of commonly used detergents. For example http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/ and http://www.foe.co.uk/index Ethan Cresdee (talk) 16:15, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia doesn't endorse any products, nor do we endorse endorsers of products. If the Open Directory Project has a category for such endorsers, we might conceivably include the dmoz.org page in an external links section, although it seems way too specific for this very general article. For future reference, bwt, it's best to avoid including such links in talk-page posts because it looks like spam. (You can name a website without actually linking it.) Rivertorch (talk) 18:38, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
My apologies, but the idea was not to advertise the products themselves, but the present the reader with organisations/guarantees that a company might use to verify its reliability. The link contains visual example of such "stamps" (yes I am using their services, but I tried to prove a point).

Anyway, thank you for the answer, I'll try to think of something else :) Ethan Cresdee (talk) 18:53, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Problematic content: Soil loss, topsoil formation and arable land loss[edit]

Most of the article content in the “Topsoil loss” subsection is seriously problematic.

The Wikipedia article states: “Soils are currently lost at the rate of inches per decade while it takes hundreds of years for one inch of new topsoil to form.” The paper cited for this statement was not written by a soil scientist, and was not published by a soil science journal. It says nothing about the rate of topsoil formation. It gives a figure for soil loss and one for soil formation, neither of which is supported by a reference. The Wikipedia article does not acknowledge that over very large areas, average soil losses are much lower and that under some circumstances, “topsoil” forms much more quickly.

In the US recently, the average erosion rate on cropland, according to US NRCS surveys, has been 10.7 t/ha per year. If one were to assume 0.5 t per cu.m as the bulk density of near-surface soil on cropland, this would be a loss of 21.4 cu.m/ha per year, i.e. 2.14 mm per year, or less than an inch per decade, not plural inches per decade. Moreover, bulk density of near-surface soil that has been subject to cultivation is commonly, though not invariably, within the range 0.6 to 1.2 t/cu.m, which would yield even smaller estimates of average soil loss expressed in mm or inches per year. On uncultivated cropland, where no-till crop production is practiced, the US average erosion rate is much lower. On non-federal US pastureland, the recent average is lower yet, estimated at about 1.9 t/ha per year. The NRCS estimates apply statistically based sampling, with application of the Universal Soil Loss Equation and the Wind Erosion Equation. Such estimates represent displacement, which would tend to overestimate average net loss of soil. That is, they do not account for sedimentation of eroded particles, which occurs in response to reduction of surface water or wind speeds and reduction of turbulence, which can occur due to terrain conditions in some parts of the terrestrial landscape.

As for the alleged rate of topsoil formation, “topsoil” is not a technical term in soil science, and in popular usage, it may mean different things to different people. However, on lands used for agriculture, Ah [A1] horizons (e.g. on pasture or rangeland) and Ap horizons [“plough layer”] (on cultivated land) are generally understood to be ‘topsoil”. In some environments, the rate of topsoil formation is quite slow. However, the FAO indicates that the rate of topsoil formation in some environments may be greater than 1.5 mm per year, i.e. requiring less than 17 years (rather than “hundreds of years”) to form an inch of topsoil. On some lands cropped and cultivated, formation of an Ap horizon to the depth of cultivation can occur even more rapidly. The claim of “hundreds of years”, without acknowledging very much shorter periods, is likely to be misleading for readers unfamiliar with pedogenesis. The Wikipedia article claims: “In the United States, 90% of the cropland is losing topsoil at a rate faster than is being formed.” The subject of “is being formed” is missing. However, if the intended subject is topsoil, as implied by the context, validity of the statement seems questionable. The statement should be deleted unless restated with more clarity, and if the clarification identifies it as referring to topsoil, validity of the statement should also be independently verified before being considered suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia.

Citing Pimentel et al. (1995) the article claims ‘Worldwide, about one third of arable land has been lost due to erosion”, but does not indicate a time frame. However, Pimentel et al. claimed that such loss had occured over a 40-year period. They cited no source in support of that claim, and gave no indication of how it had been calculated. The claim does not clarify whether, by “arable land”, Pimentel et al. referred to land capable of and suitable for cultivation for crop production, or land actually producing crops. Both kinds of definition appear in many dictionaries and both kinds are in use. Even if Pimentel were a soil scientist (he is not), his unsupported claim on the matter should be verified and the meaning should be clarified, if it is to appear in Wikipedia. Various claims in the paper of Pimentel et al. (1995) have been challenged by various soil erosion experts (such as Boardman 1998). For statistical purposes, the FAO uses “arable land” with the following definition: “Arable land is the land under temporary agricultural crops (multiple-cropped areas are counted only once), temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow (less than five years). The abandoned land resulting from shifting cultivation is not included in this category. Data for ‘Arable land’ are not meant to indicate the amount of land that is potentially cultivable.” FAO data indicate that the global area of “arable land” so defined has increased by about 9 percent since 1961 (FAOSTAT). If this FAO definition is used, then the total area of arable land over a 40-year period may be estimated as the amount at the end of that period plus the amount lost. However, over a 40-year period, the loss rate alleged by Pimentel et al. (taken from Stewart and Lal) yields a loss of less than a third of this total. If the definition used instead refers to land that is potentially cultivable, the rate yields an even smaller loss fraction. Moreover, the loss rate cited by Pimentel et al., 12 million hectares per year, refers not only to arable land, but also other agricultural land, e.g. pasture and range, it refers to loss by abandonment and degradation (of which erosion is only one process), and it appears to represent the high end of the range of expert estimates. In briefly reviewing estimates of agricultural land loss, Scherr (1999) notes that GLASOD (Global Assessment of Human-Induced Soil Degradation, under the UN Environment Programme) estimated 6 million hectares of agricultural land per year had been lost to soil degradation since the mid-1940s, and she also notes that this magnitude is similar to earlier estimates by Dudal and by Rozanov et al. GLASOD indicates that its estimate of loss due to soil degradation includes loss attributable not only to soil erosion, but also to salinization, loss of nutrients and organic matter, acidification, compaction, water logging and subsidence. Together with the FAO data, this estimate would imply that considerably less than one third of global arable land would have been lost by erosion over a 40-year period, regardless of the “arable land” definition used. Schafhirt (talk) 19:30, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Problematic content regarding “Meat production”[edit]

This subsection of the article contains extreme claims, including erroneous claims and other unverified claims, and its material omissions can mislead readers. The subsection (like much of the rest of the article) is focused on negative impacts, failing to acknowledge positive impacts. There is no mention of any recent trends in impacts and no mention of mitigation. Virtually complete revision of the subsection would be appropriate.

  • The article cites an FAO source for its claim that livestock production accounts for 18 percent of all emissions of greenhouse gases, whereas that was actually an estimate of the percentage of not all GHG emissions, but just anthropogenic emissions, expressed as 100-year carbon dioxide equivalents. The article cites this figure for livestock in the context of meat production impacts, without acknowledging that about 74 percent of global livestock product tonnage is non-meat products (according to FAO data), i.e. only some fraction of the figure can be considered assignable to meat. It chooses to cite an egregiously erroneous estimate that 51 percent of GHG emissions are assignable to livestock, from a seriously flawed, non-peer-reviewed paper. Yet it does not acknowledge any figures based on conventional sectoral assignments of emissions, e.g. those used under the UN Framework Commission on Climate Change and in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Thus it ignores an FAO estimate of 12 percent [of anthropogenic GHG emissions expressed as 100-year carbon dioxide equivalents] assigned to all of agriculture, not just the livestock sector, for 2011, and estimates of 10 to 12 percent for all of agriculture, not just the livestock sector, for both 2005 and 2010 in the IPCC 4th and 5th Assessment Reports, respectively.
  • The claim that animals that feed on grain need more water than grain crops is meaningless, because we are not told the basis of comparison. If it was intended to be per unit mass of product, it is clearly erroneous. (Perhaps the intent was to refer not only to the water needs of animals, but also water used in production of the feed that animals consume. However, that is not what was stated.)
  • Citing a press release, without verification of an extreme claim, the Wikipedia article alleges “In tracking food animal production from the feed through to the dinner table, the inefficiencies of meat, milk and egg production range from a 4:1 energy input to protein output ratio up to 54:1.” However, food animal production ends at the farm gate, not the dinner table. The 54:1 ratio referred to beef protein, and the author of this claim had previously alleged a ratio of 35:1 for beef protein, but examination of the citation chain indicates that even the latter figure was greatly exaggerated. It had resulted from a calculation error, apparently due to application of the energy concentration of beef, rather than of beef protein, when attempting to convert a protein mass figure to protein energy. A correct calculation from the original data (applying the appropriate human-metabolizable [Atwater] energy figure from USDA AH-74) would have been 20.5:1. (This assumes that the author was referring to human-metabolizable energy of protein. If the intended reference was to gross energy of protein, the ratio resulting from a correct calculation is even lower: 15.5:1.) In other studies, with protein energy expressed as human-metabolizable energy, data of several investigators (US and UK) indicate ratios ranging from less than 15:1 to about 25:1, with few ratios above 20:1, over a wide range of beef production systems. Feed production, including harvesting, is a major component of energy use in most North American beef production, and the bizarre 54:1 ratio presumably reflects extreme errors in calculating feed consumption by beef cattle. Those errors were made by that author around the time of the press release and are reflected in the egregiously erroneous water use estimate contained in the press release. Moreover, because less than half the meat energy output is protein energy, and because the energy input also yields several valued products that are not valued for their energy content, the cited ratios are not valid indicators of “inefficiencies”.
  • The article states: “Relatedly, the production and consumption of meat and other animal products is associated with the clearing of rainforests, resource depletion, air and water pollution, land and economic inefficiency, species extinction, and other environmental harms.” There is no acknowledgment that these associations do not apply universally, and no appropriate supporting references are cited.
  • The article states: "The author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on climate change has stated ‘people will need to turn vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change’. This is due to emissions of methane (which is 23 times more potent of a greenhouse gas versus carbon dioxide) from cows and pigs via flatulence and eructation.” For methane, the IPCC 5th Assessment Report indicates a 100-year global warming potential of 28 (without climate carbon feedbacks) or 35 (with climate carbon feedbacks), rather than the older estimate of 23. It also indicates that over the decade 2000 through 2009, atmospheric methane content increased by an average of just 6 Tg per year, whereas atmospheric carbon dioxide increased by an average of about 16,000 Tg per year. Moreover, the US EPA estimated that in 2005, only about 28 percent of global anthropogenic methane emission was from enteric fermentation in livestock. (Similar percentages have been published elsewhere.) The implication that reducing methane emissions by becoming vegetarian is necessary to conquer climate change is erroneous. Only a little reduction of anthropogenic methane emissions (to roughly 98 percent of the 2000-2009 average) would be sufficient to result in virtually zero contribution of methane to global warming, because the rate of methane degradation (mostly occurring in the atmosphere, but also to some extent in aerated soils) would then be enough to offset the total of anthropogenic and natural methane emissions and thereby result in no net increase in atmospheric methane content. (Data supporting this view are presented and discussed in the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, and are comparable to figures presented in various peer-reviewed publications.) Dlugokencky (of US NOAA) et al. (2011. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. 369: 2058-2072) have noted that a reduction of methane emissions would have a rapid effect on the rate of increase of radiative forcing [responsible for the warming effect of GHGs] but the effect would be small. Clearly, the primary necessity, if the world is to conquer climate change (insofar as this might be achieved by changing net anthropogenic GHG emissions), is to reduce net carbon dioxide emission by substantially reducing combustion of fossil fuels and increasing carbon sequestration; reduction of nitrous oxide emissions would rank second; and reduction of methane emissions would rank a rather distant third. [It seems remarkable that the Wikipedia article makes much of methane emissions from livestock, while not mentioning methane emissions from the fossil fuel industries, although the latter emissions are of similar or even greater magnitude, according to the EPA global estimates and various peer-reviewed publications, e.g. Dlugokencky et al. (2011) and Wuebbles and Hayhoe. (2002. Earth Sci. Rev. 57: 177-212).]
  • With regard to processes of methane emission from livestock, the article mentions eructation and flatulence, but omits exhalation. (In terms of methane emissions, while eructation predominates in ruminants, exhalation ranks second, and emission from the anus ranks third. Research has indicated that most methane produced in the lower digestive tract of a ruminant is absorbed across the intestinal wall, dissolved in the blood, and circulated to the lungs, from which it is exhaled. Also, while most rumen methane is lost by eructation, some is absorbed across the rumen wall, enters the blood stream, and is exhaled.) Schafhirt (talk) 19:47, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
There seems to be plenty of room for improvement in this article, so be bold and make the changes you think are appropriate. You have as much say as anyone else here. The worst that might happen is that someone could revert your changes and extend the discussion here. That would still get things moving! --Epipelagic (talk) 20:10, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Erroneous claim regarding water use[edit]

I propose to delete the article’s erroneous claim that “Humans appropriate more than 50% of the planet’s fresh water, mostly for use in irrigation.”, which cites Postel et al. (1996. Science 271: 785-788.

That reference provides no support for the claim. (Postel et al. did estimate that ”Humanity now uses 26 percent of total terrestrial evapotranspiration and 54 percent of runoff that is geographically and temporally accessible”, but that is far less than 50 percent of the planet’s freshwater. Also, Postel et al. estimated total annual human appropriation of fresh water at 18,200 cu.km. If this were used mostly in irrigation, the latter would be more than 9,100 cu.km/year; however, they estimated irrigation at only 2,880 cu.km per year.)

The best current estimate of annual global precipitation on land is about 117,000 cu.km (Schneider et al. 2014. Theor. & Appl. Climatol. 115: 15-40). Global annual input to surface and groundwater resources has been estimated at 52,579 cu.m/year (Frenken and Gillet. 2012. Irrigation water requirement and water withdrawal by country. AQUASTAT, FAO). The FAO’s estimate of global irrigation water use for 2007 was 2,722 cu.km/year (FAO. 2014. Water withdrawal by sector, around 2007. AQUASTAT). This is equivalent to only about 2 percent of the planet’s estimated annual terrestrial freshwater input by precipitation, or about 5 percent of the planet’s estimated annual input to ground and surface freshwater resources. Schafhirt (talk) 06:01, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

Looks like a straightforward misreading of the source - I'd support its removal. (Besides, according to this, more than 50% of the planet's freshwater is locked up in the ice caps and glaciers, so it can't possibly be right if taken at face value.) Sunrise (talk) 06:12, 20 June 2015 (UTC)