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environmental transformation

Environmental Limits

By environmental transformation

environmental limitsAccording to evolutionary theory, every animal species increases in population until it reaches its environmental limit. It appears that the human species will reach its limit in the twenty first century. The negative effects of climate change and pollution on human activity are well known. The UN commissioned report on biodiversity, published this week, reminds us of the dangers due to the loss of wild nature. We humans are destroying the eco-systems that support us, both in the oceans and rivers, and in the forests and savannahs.  Despite the extra intelligence and ability of our human species, we are proving to be just another dumb animal pursuing our own self-interest irrespective of the long-term results.

There is only one way to escape evolution’s driving force and that is to co-ordinate action globally. If people around the world make the right changes to their lifestyle, we can escape the downsides of growth.  The scientists know what needs to be done. However, there is little sign of the public at large recognising the critical nature of the problem or placing much urgency on resolving the issues.  Indeed, joint action is becoming more difficult, for as resources diminish, competition to control them increases. Populism is on the rise.  Instead of co-operating with each other we are reverting to tribal instincts. Rational decisions for the common good are being undermined by nationalist self-interest.

Somehow, we need to put the importance of our children’s future ahead of short-term selfish actions. We need to adopt a new way of life that puts sustainability at the centre of its moral purpose.  Maybe Greta Thunburg has shown the way forward. Perhaps the cries of our children will prick our moral conscious and stop this generation from destroying the planet.

Conservation Agriculture

By environmental transformation

Good news! There is a way of preserving the soil and maintaining food supply;  it’s called conservation agriculture and it’s a growing movement that was developed by farmers themselves.  

 

 

 

Source https://wocatpedia.net/wiki/Conservation_agriculture

The most widely used method of crop production, using ploughing, pesticides and fertilisers, is unsustainable. It is depleting soil levels and destroying eco-systems.  According to the UN, if current rates of degradation continue, the world’s topsoil will disappear within 60 years.  Michael Gove, the UK’s Environmental Secretary has warned that the country is 30 to 40 years away from a ‘fundamental eradication of soil fertility’.

It sounds like another warning of an imminent man-made catastrophe that is being ignored. Just as with climate change, humans seem incapable of prioritising long-term benefit over short-term profits.  There is, however, hope. By abandoning the plough, keeping the ground covered with crops and growing a wide variety of plants, it is possible to preserve the soil. Moreover, costs decrease by reducing the use of chemicals, and improved soil fertility often increases yields. Conservation agriculture requires more active land management but has the additional benefit of improving resilience to floods and droughts. It also conserves nature; the numbers of insects, birds and other wildlife improve dramatically.

This new method of food production is having a worldwide impact; so far, an area five times the size of the UK is being sustainably managed. For once the US is in the lead. The system was developed to avoid a repeat of the notorious dust bowl conditions in the 1930s.

As with all environmental issues, there is a solution for sustainable food production. However, if we are to feed future generations, we need more urgency and effective leadership to make it happen before disaster occurs.

Intensive farming

By environmental transformation

Three new reports catalogue how intensive farming methods are destroying the natural world and threatening our future .

In the journal of Biological Conservation, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo reports a ‘catastrophic decline’ in insect species.

A UN report on the state of food biodiversity reports a growing reliance on a small number of crop species to supply our food; just 9 species account for 66% of crop production.

A report by the Institute of Public Policy Research identifies that topsoil is being lost 10 to 40 times faster than it is being replaced. Since the 1950’s, 30% of the world’s arable land has become unproductive due to erosion.

It all makes grim reading. However, there are small sprigs of hope.

The Union of concerned scientists https://www.ucsusa.org/food-agriculture/advance-sustainable-agriculture/what-is-sustainable-agriculture claim that ‘there’s a transformation taking place on farms across the United States.’

For decades, we’ve produced the bulk of our food through industrial agriculture—a system dominated by large farms growing the same crops year after year, using enormous amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers that damage soils, water, air, and climate. This system is not built to last, because it squanders and degrades the resources that it depends on. 

But a growing number of innovative farmers and scientists are taking a different path, moving toward a farming system that is more sustainable—environmentally, economically, and socially. This system has room for farms of all sizes, producing a diverse range of foods, fibers, and fuels adapted to local conditions and regional markets. It uses state-of-the-art, science-based practices that maximize productivity and profit while minimizing environmental damage.

Some proponents of intensive farming claim that its impacts are the price we must pay to “feed the world.” In fact, a growing body of scientific evidence has debunked this claim, showing that a more sustainable model can be just as profitable—and can meet our needs for the long haul.

If you want to save the world veganism isn’t the answer

By environmental transformation

Environmental activists are encouraging us all to become vegans because methane emissions by ruminants are a major cause of climate change. There’s no question that we should be eating less meat but Isabella Tree in her book Wilding: The Return of nature to the British Farm argues that veganism also has environmental downsides. She says:

 [Veganism] drives up demand for crops that require high inputs of fertiliser, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, while demonising sustainable forms of livestock farming that can restore soils and biodiversity, and sequester carbon… Counter-intuitive as it may seem, adding the occasional organic pasture-fed steak to your diet, could be the right way to square the circle.