By Seth Itzkan
The livable future is only reached when a carbon neutral energy economy is complemented with a CARBON NEGATIVE food production system.
Photo Copyright Seth Itzkan 2019
I'm glad there are a few cultures left in the world that understand the essential relationship between animals and food and soil and animals. When we expand that to include soil and climate, there will be hope.
There is no safe climate future for humanity in which large parts of the world's terrestrial biosphere are not replenished of their once prodigeous reservoirs of soil cabon with proper grazing management. The co-evolution of ruminants and grassland soils over the last 30 million years reduced atmospheric CO2 concentrations from approximately 1000 to 300 ppm, creating the very conditions suitable for the emergence of humanity. We are now reversing nature's drawdown legacy.
There is no safe climate future for humanity in which large parts of the world's terrestrial biosphere are not replenished of their once prodigeous reservoirs of soil cabon with proper grazing management.
As much as a thousand billion tons of carbon may have been oxidized out of the world's soils since humans began killing megafauna, setting fires, and, only recently (in the last ten thousand years), plowing. Long before we discovered fossil fuels, humans were causing climate change through deleterious land management. We've already postponed an ice age. The period of relative climate stability over the last 10,000 years, known as the Holocene, is unprecedented and unexplained other than from the CO2 loading we were doing with the preindustrial tools available to us. Fossil fuel use has dramatically accelerated human induced global warming and must be terminated, clearly. Nonetheless, fossil fuels are not the original cause of our current existential problem and ceasing their use won't on its own halt the warming nor our appointment with extinction.
The livable future is only reached when a carbon neutral energy economy is complemented with a CARBON NEGATIVE food production system. Doing *that* requires restoration of the world's grassland soils with grazing - lots and lots of grazing - with lots and lots of animals - and the animals will need to be organized in large mobile herds, similar to how wild ungulates of antiquity roamed.
Fortunately, innovations in livestock management, such as holistic planned grazing, are rising to this challenge and creating templates for how to meet human protein needs while restoring the land base, including the soil cabon that sustains life (and climate).
Although the anti-meat movement has legitimate arguments with factory farms, the decimation of tall-grass prairie for conversion to chemical dependant monocrop gains is equally abhorrent and both are symptoms of the industrialization of food through reductionist management. Each leads to poor health and global warming.
At Soil4Climate, we are assisting a Maasai community to INCREASE their livestock holdings while organizing to improve the surrounding ecology - including the succession of weeds to grasses - with modified grazing management. Let's work together for the ethical treatment of animals and soil within a realistic context that can feed humanity while drawinging down atmospheric carbon. The answer isn't in fake food produced in high-tech factories with genetically modified yeast. The answer is in nature. Let's go there. Let's graze and eat responsibly and respectfully. The Maasai do it. So can we.
Peace and Love, - Seth
(p.s. This head was cooked and eaten shortly after the photo was taken. It tasted like lamb. Go figure.)
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Seth J. Itzkan