The International Battle For Cattle

In the minds of many, cattle are a problem. They generate methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. People are chopping down Amazon rainforest to make pasture for cattle. Feedlots are cruel, polluting, ugly and stinky. Vast areas have turned to desert because of overgrazing by cattle. As the human population grows, and as people around the world rise out of poverty in ever greater numbers, the demand for meat has increased dramatically, making the problem even worse.

If this is all you knew about cattle, it would be enough to want to end the practice of raising cattle for meat. But, as is often the case, there's another side to this story. 

Have you heard Allan Savory's TED talk entitled, How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change? It gives you an entirely different way to think about cattle. The main idea is that you can raise cattle on a piece of land in such a way that the ecosystem is restored, there is more food for wildlife, the aquifers get filled with water, running water on the land comes back, and carbon is removed from the atmosphere and sequestered underground. The desert becomes a lush grassland, full of life. And, oh yeah, whoever does this makes money, so it doesn't need any government spending.

And Savory is not talking theory here. He has trained people to do this and they have gone out and done it to their land (on 40 million acres so far), and it works. In his TED talk, he shows some before and after pictures — what the land looked like before they started using Savory's method, and what it looks like now — and it's really amazing. You can see more before and after pictures here and here.

I've written a full explanation of how it works here, but I can give you the basic idea in a paragraph. There are some places where there isn't enough rainfall for forests to grow, but there's enough for grasses. These places exist all over the world, and they are huge areas. Most of them have been turning to desert, largely because of the absence of grazing animals. What do you always have on a thriving grassland? Large herds of grazing animals. Take them away, and the grassland turns to desert. Graze them the wrong way, and the grassland turns to desert. Graze them the right way, however, and that desert can turn back into a rich grassland.

So instead of growing corn and soy to feed to cattle in feedlots, instead of burning down Amazon rainforest to create pasture, we can utilize the millions of acres turning to desert that are, right now, in desperate need of grazing animals. Rather than being a problem, cows could be an ally in saving the planet.

Adam Khan is the author of Self-Reliance, Translatedand co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam BombYou can email him here.

No comments:

Post a Comment