Reversing Climate Change – Allan Savory

Last year I watched an earlier version of this talk from the South African edition of the TED talent quest. As NZ is world famous for pastoral based farming I’d expect that NZ agricultural scientists know something about pastures and vegetation management.

Savory was picked to present his talk on How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change at the main TED 2013 conference last week and it seems that maybe we still have plenty to learn about looking after our pastures.

You may say that we don’t really have deserts here but the current drought is showing many (especially outside the cities) that our top soils and grassland pastures are in a somewhat tired condition.

Alan Savory at TED 2013

““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.

Allan Savory works to promote holistic management in the grasslands of the world”

Allan’s conclusion – holistic management and planned grazing can reverse climate change by mimicing nature. The before and after photos are truly amazing and this project has been going for decades now.

“There is only one option left to climatologists and scientists … and that is to do the unthinkable.. which is to use livestock to mimic nature”

As a bonus the soil when treated this way is able to store carbon and break down methane and better use the rain when it comes.

“In 1992, Savory and his wife, Jody Butterfield, formed the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe, a learning site for people all over Africa. In 2010, the Centre won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for its work in reversing desertification. In that same year he and his wife, with others, founded the Savory Institute in Boulder, Colorado, to promote large-scale restoration of the world’s grasslands.” Read full bio for Allan over here

Savory’s message is that we must look after mother earth and so avoid much of the human misery that ultimately flows on a much smarter management of our pastures.