Top Soil Scientists Decree: Earthworms Are Officially CANCELED

Check out this pop culture take on the impending soil apocalypse.

When I was a small child, I used to dig around for earthworms and keep them as pets. I named them all Edward, and relished in the idea that I was creating an idyllic hermaphroditic shoebox community that might one day, help save the environment.

Like most kids growing up in the United States, I was taught in elementary school that earthworms are saviors of soil ecology, helping to aerate, enrich and break down healthy dirt. But, as a recent piece in the Atlantic reports, screw all that. It’s time to “Cancel Earthworms” and put an end to… cough… global worming.

The reason: Earthworms are apparently a super invasive species. Recent worm-mapping studies show the little wrigglers have been transported across borders and oceans by humans for centuries –– silently stowing themselves away in ships, imported plants, fishing bait, and exotic mulch mixes. As a result, European earthworms now displace native ones on every continent except Antarctica. Recent studies also suggest they’re probably contributing to climate change.

As Yale University forest ecologist Annise Dobson explains in the savage worm hit piece, “If you were to think about the soil food web as the African savanna, it’s like taking out all the animals and just putting in elephants—a ton of elephants.”

As a result, researchers say forests across North America are changing in fundamental ways, storing less carbon, potentially becoming more susceptible to drought, and losing tons of biodiversity in the process.

That said, not all worms are created equal. In fact, several studies we recently dug into show earthworms may help reverse climate change if placed in the right environments.

Either way, I’m sorry Edward the Worms, for repeatedly imprisoning you in a shoebox commune for all those years. I’m also sorry for saying, with all due respect, that you’re ecologically canceled.

Read more on The Atlantic.