Different types of soils, how they are formed and depleted, how they can be protected and built up, and why they are so important to life on earth. With a strong environmentalist perspective, the authors describe how soils are endangered all over the world -- by overuse in poor countries, wasteful practices in rich ones, and chemical pollution everywhere. They are also careful to present plenty of possibilities offering hope: better farming practices, integrated pest management, and suggestions for personal action by readers. Heavily illustrated, with one or more color photos on each page, the text clearly conveys important concepts, while terms mentioned in the glossary are in boldface for easy reference. A model of effective science reporting. List of concerned organizations; glossary; index.