Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Is herding more animals a really the solution to stopping desertification?

Write a blog post summarizing your viewpoint on the issue, backed up with science facts.  Your blog post should be similar in length and spirit to the posts by Sydni Rucks and Anna Tuulik from last year. Note that they included imagery.  Please include a link to at least one peer-reviewed article in your blog post.

In February of 2013, Allan Savory gave a TedTalk on how to fight desertification and reverse climate change. Dr. Savory suggest that the desertification of the world's grasslands is the cause of poverty, social breakdown, violence, cultural genocide, climate change, and human exploitation. in the 60s, Dr. Savory made a breakthrough in a solution to the desertification. He called his method, "holistic management". This method "mimics" ancient Earth ecosystems where there was a delicate symbiosis between plants and herd animals. In this time era, the soil was turned and controlled by constantly moving herds and fertilized by the same herds. Dr. Savory believes that by adopting this method, humans could revive the grasslands.

In my opinion, this is another way scientists are using invention to solve the problems humans causes. It is correct that Dr. Savory is suggesting using a method that has been around before humans existed, but this method is still modified. Instead of using the natural herd animals of the land, he suggests that farmers increase livestock populations to even 400 fold. In the past, we have seen how humans have tried to mimic nature to solve the problems that humans have caused. Example of this would be the introduction of mongooses into the Hawaiian islands there were original released to eliminate populations of rats that were harming crops. However, the mongooses have no natural predator in the islands so they reproduced exponentially and soon were killing native birds and reptile species.

Other problems with Dr. Savory's idea is that the man power it will take to control a herd of over 400 animals.  Mr. McWilliam's response to Dr. Savory's talk gives a good point where the livestock used were in unhealthy conditions. Since the animals were constantly on the move, they faced exhaustion and starvation and were supplemented expensive fodder so sustain them in their "herding".  Dr. Savory's idea for mimicking nature's symbiosis is a good idea, but I do not think it can be the only way and this method is the only version that can be used. I wonder if it is possible to use this herding method but use machines instead of animals?

Amiraslani, Farshad, Gholam Reza Zehtabian, and S. Wall. "People-oriented activities in expansion of forest plantations for the local benefits (Case study: A pilot project in eastern part of Iran)." Small-scale forestry and rural development: The intersection of ecosystems, economics and society. Proceedings of International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) 3.08 Conference, Galway, Ireland. 2006.

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