Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The TED talk by biologist Allan Savory, How to fight desertification and fight climate change, claimed that instead of reducing cattle to reverse the effects of desertification, introducing cattle to lands that are facing desertification can reduce the effects and reverse global warming. His idea was that with mimicking mother nature and having livestock in highly numbered herds that grazed and then moved on, would revive lands from desertification. A review of the TED talk pointed out flaws in Savory’s plan. According to James McWilliams form the article All Sizzle and No Steak, Savory’s hypothesis of ‘holistic management’ does not account for the varieties of deserts worldwide. There are genuinely degraded ecosystems that are in need of help but there are other ecologically thriving deserts. And the “cancer” of desertification as Savory calls it, is actually an essential algae crust that is key to reducing erosion among other roles.
I am a little torn with Allan Savory’s idea on how to fight desertification. I do believe that it is a great idea and could be very beneficial for some areas if his model actually provides adequate results. It is not a good model for everywhere. Our Earth is already over populated and increasing livestock by 400% in some places is not going to be ideal. In Israel they are planting olive trees to combat desertification. Olive trees are drought, disease, and fire resistant so they do well in desert-like conditions (Capelo et. al. 2010). They also create shade and air purification (ENN, Environmental News Network). And above all that, they produce great olive oil! Olive trees are evergreen trees and absorb large quantities of CO2. I think looking in to approaches like this is a better option for fighting desertification than increasing livestock by 400%. Like James McWilliams said, “There’s no such thing as a beef-eating environmentalist.”