Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Allan Savory’s Plan to “Mimic” Nature
Allan Savory is a biologist from Zimbabwe who coined the idea of Holistic Management (Savory Institute). Holistic Management is a ranch and farming planning system created to help farmers manage their land in ways that would be sustainable (Holistic Management). In February 2013, Savory gave a Ted talk claiming the solution to reverse desertification was to increase the number of livestock on the planet in order to “mimic” the large herds that once occupied those habitats (Savory, 2013). He believes that the large herds of cattle will not only be able to feed humans, but also nurture the grasslands with their manure and their trampling which will increase the soils ability to hold water (Savory, 2013).
I believe this idea is far too simple and doesn’t take into account many of the other factors involved in the ecosystem. Back in the 1950s Savory believed that the deterioration of the land was due to the fact that there were too many elephants. His solution to this problem was to kill 40,000 elephants. After all those elephants had been massacred, the land showed no signs of improvement (Coughlin, 2013). Now he’s trying to take the opposite approach and greatly increase the amount of livestock on the planet. I find Savory’s methods far too extreme and damaging to the natural ways of the ecosystem.
Greatly increasing the livestock of the planet will affect the biodiversity of the planet, creating more of a monoculture, as biodiversity is lost. Savory’s idea involved “mimicking” the herds that were once there, however those herds lived their entire lives there, ending with decomposing into the ground, providing the earth with nutrients (McWilliams, 2013). Finally, cows are one of the greatest contributors to global methane emissions, which are greatly affecting the earth’s climate (Stanford University, 2007).
I find Savory’s methods far too extreme and believe he ignores many of the other factors that contribute to the ecosystem. His method will greatly reduce the planet’s biodiversity and will add to the already staggering global warming changes.
Coughlin, Chrissy. (2013). Allan Savory: How Livestock can protect the land. http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/03/10/allan-savory-how-livestock-can-protect-land
McWilliams, James. All Sizzle and No Steak. http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/04/allan_savory_s_ted_talk_is_wrong_and_the_benefits_of_holistic_grazing_have.2.html
Savory, Allan. “How to fight desertification and reverse climate change.” 2013. Ted.com
Stanford University (2007, February 22). Harmful Environmental Effects Of Livestock Production On The Planet 'Increasingly Serious,' Says Panel. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 15, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2007/02/070220145244.htm