Saturday, March 9, 2013

A bridge in the climate debate - How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change

© NASA
The Sahara Desert in Africa, 
as seen from space.
A bridge in the climate debate - How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change
Mar 8, 2013 | Whats Up With That | Anthony Watts

People send me stuff.

Imagine, shooting 40,000 elephants to prevent the land in Africa from going to desert because scientists thought the land couldn't sustain them, only to find the effort was for naught and the idea as to why was totally wrong. That alone was a real eye opener.

Every once in awhile, an idea comes along that makes you ask, "gee why hasn't anybody seen this before?". This one of those times. This video below is something I almost didn't watch, because my concerns were triggered by a few key words in the beginning. But, recommended by a Facebook friend, I stuck with it, and I'm glad I did, because I want every one of you, no matter what side of the climate debate you live in, to watch this and experience that light bulb moment as I did. The key here is to understand that desertification is one of the real climate changes we are witnessing as opposed to some the predicted ones we often fight over.

It is one of those seminal moments where I think a bridge has been created in the climate debate, and I hope you'll seize the moment and embrace it. This video comes with my strongest possible recommendation, because it speaks to a real problem, with real solutions in plain language, while at the same time offering true hope.

This is a TED talk by Dr. Allan Savory in Los Angeles this past week, attended by our friend Dr. Matt Ridley, whose presentation we'll look at another time. Sometimes, TED talks are little more that pie in the sky; this one is not. And, it not only offers a solution, it shows the solution in action and presents proof that it works. It makes more sense than anything I've seen in a long, long, time. Our friend Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., champion of studying land use change as it affects local and regional climate will understand this, so will our cowboy poet Willis Eschenbach, who grew up on a cattle ranch. I daresay some of our staunchest critics will get it too.

To encapsulate the idea presented, I'll borrow from a widely used TV commercial and say:

Beef, its what's for climate
You can call me crazy for saying that after you watch this presentation. A BIG hattip to Mark Steward Young for bringing this to my attention.

"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.

Published on Mar 4, 2013



There's a longer version with more detail below, about an hour long. Also worth watching if you want to understand the process in more detail:

Feasta Lecture 2009. Extracts available at Vimeo.

Allan Savory argued that while livestock may be part of the problem, they can also be an important part of the solution. He has demonstrated time and again in Africa, Australia and North and South America that, properly managed, they are essential to land restoration. With the right techniques, plant growth is lusher, the water table is higher, wildlife thrives, soil carbon increases and, surprisingly, perhaps four times as many cattle can be kept.

Recorded 7 November 2009, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

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