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Allan Savory's TED Talk on reversing desertification

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  • Allan Savory's TED Talk on reversing desertification

    If folks aren't familiar with Allan Savory's work, this new TED talk is a good introduction. What do folks think of this talk? Comments?

    “Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it's happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.
    Apathy is tyranny's greatest ally.

  • #2
    Yes! Just saw this on Richard Nikoley's blog Free the Animal.

    I left the following comment: "By the end of it, I couldn’t help but think of what a cool business opportunity this could be. Buy up some private land that’s been subjected to desertification, throw on a few groups of cattle for however many years, and resell at a much higher price due to the enhanced usefullness of the land. Obviously details would be a bit more complicated, but it’s a promising idea. Win-win for the businessman and the ecosystem."

    This is, potentially, one of the most powerful messages to save humans from destroying their own land.

    Savory and Joel Salatin need to team up and bring this message to the masses.
    Travel, eat well, and learn about life - three things I love to do

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    • #3
      Thank you so much for posting this. It's pretty moving stuff.
      "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


      Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


      • #4
        KestralSF That is a wonderful talk. I live in So. Cal. where we have millions of acres available (in the Mohave and near by deserts) for re-animaling. Yesterday I listened to and was a little sad. Now if these two speakers would get together big positive results might happen.

        Paul119's business might be good but it probably could not be done individually. To rotate (or walk through) such big herds you'd need gigantic pieces of land so probably you'd need a cartel of some kind. Come to think of it we have one - it's called the Nature Conservancy, a U.S. non-profit.
        "When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power." - Alston Chase


        • #5
          Thanks for posting! I wrote a bit about him for school last year and maybe people will actually watch this video. :-)


          • #6
            Thank you so much for posting this.


            • #7
              Check out this article - ‘Brown Revolution’ targets long-term productivity on range - for an article about people who are already implementing it as a business idea. They're funded by a private investing firm out of the Northeast.
              Travel, eat well, and learn about life - three things I love to do

              Curious about what YOU should pack next time you're on the road? Check out my Definitive Guide to Backpacking Nutrition


              • #8
                I didn't see your link before posting it today. Powerful Ted Talk, glad to see it's getting so much publicity.
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                • #9
                  What do y'all think of this reaction to it? Allan Savory’s TED talk is wrong, and the benefits of holistic grazing have been debunked. - Slate Magazine
                  Making adventure out of this thing called life


                  • #10
                    I don't think the author, James McWilliams, has ever stepped foot on a farm that utilizes managed intensive grazing (e.g., the Salatin/Polyface model). It's fair to challenge whether studies conducted in Africa would work in North America, but specious statements like "cattle that grazed according to Savory’s method needed expensive supplemental feed, became stressed and fatigued, and lost enough weight to compromise the profitability of their meat," and "symbiosis between grazing herds and grasses has historically worked best to sequester carbon when the animals lived the entirety of their lives within the ecosystem, their carcasses rotted and returned their accumulated nutrients into the soil, and human intervention was minimal to none" make it clear that McWilliams has no idea of what farmers actually do, or what the soil health of these farms is, or even what managed intensive grazing involves.

                    The notion that pasture lands converted to monoculture farms does not lead to radical soil erosion and loss of quality is laughable. Likewise, the notion that pasture lands converted to industrial or residential usage would be better carbon locks. Much of the land used to raise livestock on pasture is otherwise not able to be used for agriculture - too rocky and unable to be plowed or tilled. And pasture farms that feature managed intensive grazing do act as carbon locks and barriers to flooding and erosion, in direct contradistinction to monoculture farms.

                    The author wanders down a side street of discussion on deserts and ecosystems, failing to see the point that we are watching more grass land converted to desert. A cryptobiotic crust may be “a complete and ancient ecosystem,” but that doesn't make it preferable to grasslands, either environmentally nor in terms of a sustainable food supply chain. Should we sit back and watch as more and more North American farms turn to dust? Great prescription.

                    The not-so-subtle agenda is contained in McWilliams's final line: "In the meantime, the evidence continues to suggest what we have long known: There’s no such thing as a beef-eating environmentalist. " And there you have it. I've met with dozens of sustainable, permaculture livestock farmers, and you'd be hard-pressed to find people more in tune with environmental concerns, or more knowledgeable about how to effect the best health for our soils and water. They will expound at length about various kinds of grasses, about soil microbiota, about mycelium and soil nutrients and on and on.

                    "I'm not a cattle farmer," one former electrical engineer told me once, "I'm a grass farmer. I make sure the grass grows to the proper desirability, then move the cattle around to eat it. All I do is convert the energy of the sun into grass, and the cows convert it into food." There was no smell of manure at his farm, or any of the other "grass farmers" oeprations I've visited, unlike CAFOs, where the manure sewers can be smelled from miles away. These farmers use little by way of fossil fuels, especially compared to industrial monouculture or CAFO farms; they use little irrigated water; all you see are green fields, and cows (and lambs and chickens and pigs) out in their paddocks.

                    You'll learn more from a farmer who knows his stuff than snotty little Mr. McWilliams's Slate piece. I invite you to do so.


                    • #11
                      Just as an addendum: I've lived in this area most of my ~5 decades, and it sort of straddles rural/agricultural and suburban. I've seen a huge changeover of farmlands to the same old sorry-assed shit: cookie-cutter housing developments, the sad refrain of Olive Garden-Target-etc. shopping, an absurd redundancy of storage facilities (because Lord knows we need all this CRAP stored in some rental place), and on and on. Grasslands converted to asphalt and cement, forests cleared, etc.

                      And then people wonder why we have uncontrollable flooding more frequently than we ever did before, why summers seem hotter and more smoggy and winters seem more brittle cold.

                      Tell you what, convert some of those "bastions of civilization" back to "non-environmentally friendly" pasture lands for beef farmers, and you will see environmental mitigation. Flood waters spongued up in fields, rather than running off parking lots. The comfortable feeling you get with lots of trees around, as opposed to the exposed feeling of being an ant on a sidewalk. Biodiversity and permaculture > monoculture and mindless development and idiots who write wonky stuff for Slate that they don't really understand.


                      • #12
                        Thanks, @Finnegan's Wake! I actually didn't read it....but you summed it up nicely, especially the parts that are totally out of line. The only reason I found the article is because Allan Savory's talk and other research I have done on the topic excited me SO much that I've done a few projects for school on it, and it popped up during my research. I wanted to keep it in mine and get other's thoughts on it, just in case I had to argue for it against a professor or classmate. But really, working with nature makes so much sense. Who would deny that? Mr. McWilliams Slate I suppose. LOVE the quote from the 'grass farmer'. So true.
                        Making adventure out of this thing called life