The opportunities and risks of the soil security metaphor: A review

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Language both represents and constructs our reality. Soil Security is a proposed new frame for encouraging the systematic and interdisciplinary approaches to soil research needed to address complex needs. This bold attempt at reframing may, however, have numerous consequences in addition to its central intent. This review paper explores words and discourses related to 'Soil Security'. Current understanding of how language frames reality is presented, emphasising the roles of metaphor and entailments. Soil Security is then situated in relation to the broader construct of Environmental Security, with references to security of water, food and energy. Against this background, aspects of Soil Security are explored, and some cautions issued to users of the term. The soil science community is urged to actively consider the implications and nuances of any discourse, including that of Soil Security, with which it engages, or risk being led to operate in unintended or unwelcome ways. To guide this engagement, the review paper concludes with suggestions on how to reflect on the practice of soil science and its role in the future of humanity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4464
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2019


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