We are currently entering a period of dramatic global environmental change driven in large part by our activities and population growth. On a planetary scale, we are losing biodiversity due to land use change, polluting ecosystems with artificial fertilizers, and altering our climate that will all affect food and water supplies.
The functioning of soil is critical as a medium for plant growth, as a habitat for organisms, and as a recycling system for nutrients and organic wastes. The ecological complexity of organic matter decomposition is arguably the final frontier of ecological investigation. In this talk, I will describe and discuss the global environmental challenges of the 21st Century and explain how the functioning of soils will continue to play an important role in the development of a sustainable future.