This is one of the talks that came out of the most recent TED conference held February 25 – March 1, 2013 in Long Beach, California. The speaker, Allan Savory, is presented as grassland ecosystem pioneer and he has devoted most of his life studying grasslands all around the world and trying to work out the relationship between desertification and heavy grazing by herd herbivores. In his TED talk, Mr Savory presents a convincing case of how removal of grazing is likely to be the primary reason of degradation of many grassland ecosystems, and that reintroduction of heavy grazing is the solution to halt desertification. And it makes sense, relationship between grasses and large herbivores is a clear example of co-evolution, where both partners benefit more from each other than are harmed. So loss of one should negatively affect the other. I would question, however, Mr Savory’s statements about how saving and restoring world’s grasslands could mitigate all of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and stop climate change. Maybe it’s because of TED talks, the format often seem to require some grand statement and final solution. I think in this particular case the approach should be more holistic — grassland ecosystems are just part of the equation. Each and every part matters, and this talk provides great example of how study of ecology can provide feasible solutions to big problems.
What do you think? Can grasslands be saved with the help of cattle herds? Can reversing the desertification solve the climate crisis?
Featured image by James Duncan Davidson/TED
- Can This Surprising Discovery Fix Climate Change? (mashable.com)
- Fighting the growing deserts, with livestock: Allan Savory at TED2013 (ted.com)
- Ecologist Allan Savory discusses restoring grasslands (tuftsdaily.com)
- Savory Institute (savoryinstitute.com)