Christian Feller, IRD, BP 64501, Montpellier Cedex 5, 34394, France
Soil science and perception of its objectives have changed dramatically since ~ 1850. During the second half of the nineteenth century, soil was studied as a “material” mainly for understanding water dynamics and plant growth. The principal focus was the plant, and soil scientists worked mainly as agronomists. With the emergence of pedology towards the end of the nineteenth century, soil was studied as a “natural body”. The main focus was study of soil for the sake of soil and the understandings of the effect of different environmental factors on soil development and functions. Now the soil scientist became a “pedologist.” At present, these two trends co-exist, and more and more research in soil science is concerned with the frontiers of this discipline. At global scale soil research is concerned as a component of the whole ecosystem, and the other components being atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. Soil scientists are now researching as pedo-bio-geo scientists and the principal foci are interactions between soil and other ecosystem components at a global scale. “Soil Science in a Changing Climate”, the title of this SSSA meeting, refers clearly to the soil-atmosphere interactions and the great conventions on Climate Change as the Kyoto Protocol and some of its flexible mechanisms. On the other hand, presently no science can afford to be disconnected from the societal demands, the economics and policy dimensions, and from the social perceptions and use of the scientific practices and results to address the emerging issues.