Like many others, Allan Savory believes that land use, poor agricultural practices, and desertification are as crucial to climate change and ecological collapse as is fossil fuel use.
Savory points out that while the “Green Revolution’s” modern practices have increased global food production tremendously, it has been done via massive inputs of petro-chemicals and herbicides, monoculture cropping, and confinement animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Unfortunately, these practices degrade our ecological (and socio-cultural) capital base in the process.
“The legacy of modern agricuture is soil erosion, dead zones at the mouths of rivers, severely depleted levels of biodiversity, impoverished rural communities, soil fertility loss, and oxidation of soil organic matter.”
In response, Savory proposes using holistic management practices to start a new “Brown Revolution” – based on the regeneration of covered, organically rich, biologically thriving soil, and brought to fruition via millions of human beings returning to the land and the production of food.
This idea reveals a difficult dilemma in balancing food production and climate: The Economist recently pointed out that we need to boost production, in order to feed the ever-more populous and urbanized planet. A Brown Revolution could put worldwide food security at risk. On the other hand, continuing down the current agricultural path may exacerbate climate change, with the climate impact leading to the very food production dilemma the Green Revolution is intended to address.
High tech or low tech? Which is the way to go? Savory’s white paper is available here.
Incidentally, the ad above was a winner of the TED “ads worth spreading” competition. For those of you who will comment that population is the primary underlying issue, another of the TED winners is a new “Girl Effect” ad, which advocates for the well being of girls. According to the group behind the ads, when a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. You can check out the new girl effect ad here.