Biogeochemical processes are essential to sustainability because they work as regulatory cycles for the Earth – think homeostasis. Biogeochemical processes are systems like the water, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Phosphorous cycles, etc.
The elements that are involved in these processes provide resources that humans, and other organisms, use for living.
Understanding these cycles is important when thinking about sustainability because when we alter the state of a cycle, such as with using pesticides or emitting an excess of carbon, we are disturbing the flow of the cycle.
In other words, the balance of the cycle will be offset. The process is no longer able to be successful in renewing resources, or elements.
Understanding how the cycles move will be beneficial in figuring out exactly what activities are causing effects and how. By studying, we will also have an idea of what signs to look for when a cycle is being disturbed, such as a lack of precipitation, algal blooms or excess heat.
If we fail to understand how the cycles work then when they begin to change due to our behaviors, we will have no idea how to fix the problems or change our actions. We need to be able to understand them enough to develop a mutual relationship with them, instead of acting like a predator on our own homeland.
If we know the process of the elements, we can find potential intervention points in them to help replenish what we take. For example, we could develop a means of replacing the role plants play in the water, oxygen and carbon cycles. Or, we could develop a new, sustainable, safe and cost-effective way to grow plants for our rapidly growing population in order to reduce our reliance on fertilizers that disrupt the phosphorous and nitrogen cycle.
These cycles are what regulate our habitat and provide us our basic human needs: water, food and air, and even provide us with life by making up our DNA. It is our responsibility to understand and protect the biogeochemical processes.
Hope you have a newfound appreciation of the magic, oop I mean biogeochemical processes!
In Soil We Trust,