Concrete instead of nature?

Land use in Austria
Around 11.5 hectares of fertile soil are used in Austria every day. That is roughly equivalent to the area of ​​38 WeltTellerFelder. Soil use describes the loss of fertile soil through construction for settlement and transport purposes, but also through intensive agricultural use. The greatest danger for domestic soil is sealing. Sealing covers the soil with a waterproof layer, it is either built on, concreted, asphalted, or paved. In that case, the soil becomes permanently infertile.

Land use abroad
Austria is claiming more and more agricultural land abroad. We import a variety of agricultural products, as their production in countries of the Global South often costs less or the climatic conditions are more favourable. In many countries of the Global South, valuable forest, meadow and fallow land is being converted into farmland, while many agricultural areas in Austria are being sealed.

Soil compaction by agriculture
Industrial agriculture endangers the fertile soil in Austria. The increasing compaction of soil, for example due to heavy agricultural machinery and excessive tillage, worsens the living conditions for soil organisms. However, these are indispensable for the soil to remain fertile. Excessive tillage also inhibits the soil's ability to absorb water. Heavy rainfall increases the risk of soil runoff and flooding.

Effects of soil loss
Soil is more than bare earth. It is indispensable not only for agriculture and our nutrition. It also offers a habitat for many animal and plant species, can bind the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and serve as a water reservoir. The loss of fertile soil entails a variety of risks: the yields of agricultural products deteriorate, the extinction of species is accelerated and climate change is promoted. Once soil is damaged, it takes a long time to recover. In about 100-200 years, only about one centimetre of humus forms, i.e. the fertile top layer of soil through which plants are supplied with nutrients.

About the work of art "The Furrow" by Nikolaus Eckhard
After water, concrete is the most used material in the world. The concrete industry is one of the main emitters of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The sculpture "The Furrow" deals with the material concrete and the massive sealing of the ground that goes with its use. The sculpture was created in the course of the workshop "Stone Age - Concrete Workshop". The participants pulled a plow across the field together and filled the resulting furrow with concrete.

Different soil structures in comparison
Good soil structure: Porous, loose layers of soil with many openings for water and nutrients flows to the plants
Compacted soil structure: Dense layers of soil with few openings for water and nutrients to reach plants.

Time for utopias
Many people dream of a just world and a healthy and green planet. Along the climate path, we would like to invite you to think about what a climate just world could look like. In your opinion, how could built-up land, such as high-rise buildings, warehouses or parking lots, be better used? Let us know about your ideas and see what others think. Share your ideas and visions on the time for utopias board next to the Climate Justice Scale or online via this QR code.