Allan Savory and Schwartz’s Cows Save the Planet

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

Back in the 1950s, Allan Savory made one of the most difficult decisions of his life. As a young biologist assigned to set aside vast areas of lands for future National Parks in Africa, he was involved in moving indigenous people off their land.  Shortly thereafter the land began to deteriorate.  After studying the situation, Allan Savory determined that large herds of elephants were over grazing the land and something needed to be done.  As a result, 40,000 elephants were killed.  The land continued to deteriorate at an increasing rate.  Mr. Savory, to this day regrets this decision.  In his own word, he expresses his love for elephants and says that he will take this to his grave.  He tells this story in the video linked below.  

Restoration of Carbon starved soil will restore desertified lands and remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. Watch video Allan Savory
Restoration of Carbon starved soil will restore desertified lands and remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.  Watch video:  Allan Savory.  Go to Holistic Management: The Savory Institute for more information, and do donate it you can.

Since then, Allan Savory has dedicated his life to finding the solution to the increasing desertification of grasslands.  For me, his discovery of why the earth’s lands are turning into deserts, and how nature can heal itself with our help is one of the most hopeful remedies to stop  global warming where it stands now.  If we begin to implement his ideas now on a grand scale, it is possible to reduce the carbon dioxide levels to preindustrial times, and this cure can happen quickly, 10-20 years.  It is also vastly important that we take action quickly because  increasing desertification is causing, starvation, poverty, disease, and warfare particularly in Africa, right now.  This will become a worldwide condition if we don’t heal the earth, in this case, literally the ground we walk on.

Some of the greatest solutions to our problems are often so very simple, and this is one of those eloquent solutions.  Allan Savory discovered that what was needed to restore the grasslands were large herds of animal moving along the grassland, never staying in one place too long. They moved because they were not interested in eating their own fertilizing deposits, and they were also not interested in getting eaten, so they bunched together for protection, moving across the savannas, and running from one place to another when threatened, leaving the land able to restore itself.  They didn’t eat too much, they fertilized it, some pooped seeds, and they churned and dug holes in the earth allowing water to be captured.

A healthy grassland results in carbon rich soil.  Other than the obvious benefits noted above, it is the carbon rich soils that disappear when lands are overgrazed, when agricultural practices leave the soil bare, when droughts occur, and with deforestation.  Where does the carbon go?  Into our atmosphere where it binds with oxygen (CO2).  

Life exists because of carbon: carbon starved earth is dead, and, therefore, nothing grows.  If lands are left bare, carbon leaches out of the soil and adds to the CO2 levels in our atmosphere.  Without plants the CO2 level rises because the Carbon Cycle is broken.  

Most of us have heard that the rainforests are the lungs of the earth.  Indeed.  One can add to this by saying all plants are the lungs of the earth.  Breaking the carbon cycle destroys the recycling of both carbon and oxygen.  

Everyone whom took science classes in high school, learned about the carbon cycle, though ones memory like mine may be rusty.  The simplified version, which we all learned was that plants breath in carbon dioxide.  With the help of the sun, energy is transferred to the plant.  Chlorophyll (why plants are green), is where photosynthesis takes place, resulting in separating the Carbon and Oxygen molecules.  The Oxygen is returned to the atmosphere, and the carbon is stored in the plant and in the soil where it stays inert. The same thing happens in the ocean, however phytoplankton takes the place of the plant.  Phytoplankton respiration releases the oxygen back to the air, and their decomposition, returns the carbon to the ocean.  

Carbon Cycle

Soil Respiration Chart

Caron Cycle
                                                                                   Caron Cycle

Both Adam Savory and Judith D. Schwartz (Cows Save The Earth) discuss how we can return carbon to the soil without the naturally occurring large herds and their predators.  Enter cows and sheep.  This practice has been tested many times and it works.  Ms Schwartz, explains the process the following way.  Cows are the hole diggers and fertilizers: they are the catalyst that begin the processes needed to heal the soil.  A “microscopic choreography comes into play.  Worms, insects and microorganisms like fungi and bacteria aerate the ground, decompose waste, exchange nourishment (mycorrhizal fungi take glucose from plants and in return help plants assimilate nutrients), and break down rocks into mineral like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc that are essential to our health. (Cows Save The Planet, 2013, p 3).”  Termites play the same role as earthworms in marginal or arid lands.  If you have read Yacouba Sawadogo story on this blog, The Man Who Stopped the Desert, you will recall that Yacouba knew that if he dug holes and place dung in them, termites would find there way to these holes and begin to dig tunnels which capture water during the rainy season. The water was retained by surrounding these area with berms.  In each of these holes, trees were planted.  The end result was that he stopped the Sahara Desert from taking over his town.  This is now practiced in many such areas.

Initially, Allan Savory didn’t like domesticated cattle, however, they are proving to be an invaluable resource to restoring the grasslands.  The Massai are a nomadic people living in Southern Kenya and Tanzania.  They herd their cows in bunches continually moving them.  This mimics nature in that the Massai take the place of the predators  The Massai protect their cattle from predators by housing them overnight in pens.  As a result of this practice, the land stays healthy.

There are many testimonials given by people using this and similar methods: both environmental and economical benefits are evident.  One rancher noted how his land, The Two Dot Lane and Livestock Company in Harlowton Wyoming, now contained hundreds of new plant species along with a diverse and abundant wildlife population.  During the 2011 flood in Harlowton, his parcel was the only one that didn’t suffer from flooding and erosion as the land was able to absorb the water.  The soil is now carbon rich.

Soil restoration can and needs to be done everywhere — watersheds, in one’s community, in an abandoned field.   These could be community projects.

There are many more stories of this kind.  Do support this endeavor, I believe this can help to save our planet.  Check it out for yourself.  The Savory Institute and Holistic Planned Grazing.  Know that by my talking about this method as a solution to global warming, I am not suggesting that we ignore the problems of using fossil fuels.  We need to continue inventing, creating, and implementing clean energy technology.  All efforts to clean up our earth are important, including picking up our litter.

“Upon this handful of soil our survival depends.  Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty.  Abuse it and soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it (Vedic Scriptures, around 1500 BC).”

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself.”

Some statistics and other problems related to a carbon dead soil.  Unless noted, the following comes from Cows Save The Planet (CSTP).

  1. According to Savory, two thirds of the world’s grassland have disappeared “causing traditional grazing societies to descend into chaos.”
  2. The depletion rate of topsoil is ten times in the U.S. and forty times in China faster than it is generated, some 83 billion tons a year.
  3. Carbon dead soil affects the minerals necessary for health.  For example, since the 1960s, calicium in apples has decreased by 50%:  phosphorus, iron, and magnesium more than an 80% reduction.  What once was “An apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” now requires four or five apples a day.
  4. “Every 1% increase in soil carbon holds an additional 60,000 gallons of water per acre.”  Limits damage from erosion and supports microbial life (CSTP, p 6).
  5. Messing up the carbon cycle messes up the water cycle, nutrient cycle, and energy cycle.
  6. Carbon dioxide level in 2016 was 400 parts per million (first time in recorded history)- above 350 ppm the climate becomes destabilized.
  7. Between 1989 and 2008 soil respiration increased by about 0.1% per year Bond-Lamberty, B. & Thomson, A. Nature 464, 579-582 (2010) In 2008, the global total of CO2 released from the soil reached roughly 98 billion tonnes, about 10 times more carbon than humans are now putting into the atmosphere each year by burning fossil fuel.
  8. “In the past 150 years between 50 and 80 percent of organic carbon in the topsoil has gone airborne(CSTP. p 12).”
  9. Savory and others believe that if we restore 1/2 of the world’s grassland, the CO2 levels would be lowered to pre-industrial concentrations.
  10. Last, it does need to be said that the methane issue associated with cows burbs and farts are not a problem.  Though methane is a green house gas, it breakdowns very quickly in the atmosphere.  Furthermore, large concentration of methane measured at feedlots are due to how cow manure is collected and stored

Holistic Planned Grazing is a one very big solution toward turning off increasing Global Warming.  Please do visit the above links and help. With great respect to all, let’s do what we can to heal our planet.

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

Frogs: Charismatic and Beautiful: Mass Extinction Around the World

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

I love frogs, especially tree frogs.  Apparently many people do not consider these animals cute, beautiful and charismatic creatures. I cannot imagine this.

Please help us fight this disease. We eat lots of insects and support the lives of many living organisms
Please help us fight this disease. We eat lots of insects and support the lives of many living organisms.  

I remember hearing that Frog populations were beginning to disappear fifty years ago.  They were considered to be the above ground canary warning us that something was wrong with our environment.  In the past, miners took canaries into the mines to detect poisonous gases, such as carbon monoxide.  Need I tell you, that a canary belly-up was a bad sign.  The dying off of frogs are due to deforestation, and in time rising seas will wipe out many too as the islands they live on are taken over by the sea.

sohfrogc2sohfrogc1bWhat’s really killing amphibians, tree frogs focused on here, is the “first major wildlife disease outbreak in the world.” (National Geographic).  A water north pathogen called chytrid fungus is the culprit that is decimating amphibian populations.  Some amphibians such as the American Bullfrog are resistant to this disease though they may be carriers of this disease. (amphibian ark)

Cusuco National Park, a cloud forest, in Honduras is one of the most biodiverse natural habitats in the world, especially for amphibians.  The populations of the extremely diverse group of tree frogs that live in this Park are disappearing rapidly.  Local inhabitants who have the pleasure to see these beauties everyday, for they are everywhere, are saddened by the loss these animals and fear there extinction.

Critically Endangered in Honduras.  In the last 10 years, 80% of them are gone.

Help!
         Mossy Red-Eyed Frog
Please!
        Mossy Red-Eyed Frog

Fortunately, Jonathan Kolby, a biologist and National Geographic explorer, has set up the Honduras Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Center (HARCC), to study and treat those infected.  There is a cure.  When free of the disease they are returned to wild. HARCC is running a fundraiser right now (10/17/16).  Please support them.

Cusuco Spike-Thumb Frog
                  Cusuco Spike-Thumb Frog

We lost this one.

goldentoadextinct

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

The Pale Blue Dot: Homage to Carl Sagan

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

On October 13, 1994, Carl Sagan (American astronomer, cosmologist,astrophysicist, astrobiologist and author — Cosmos and more) gave a public lecture at Cornell University reflecting on the Voyager 1’s photograph of the earth taken on February 14, 1990 (13 years after its launch).  Voyager 1 had travelled 6 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) from earth when Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn Voyager’s camera toward our home and photograph it.  Thank you!

images-30Pale Blue Dot

The following are excerpts of this magnificent lecture.  If you wish to read the entire lecture, just google it.  It is my suggestion that one needs to revisit The Pale Blue Dot often to remind ourselves of how fragile our planet is, and how amazing it is that we have had the privilege to live where life thrives.

The Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan

“That’s home.  That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

. . . every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child. . . every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on the moon of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

“. . . how frequent their misunderstandings.  How fervent their hatred.  Our imagined self- importance.  The delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic card.  In all this vastness there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

Like it or not, for this moment, the earth is where we make our stand.

There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceit than this distant image of our tiny world . . . it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the blue dot.  The only home we’ve ever known.”

Voyager 1 Launch – Sept. 5, 1977 –
Voyager 1
              Voyager 1
Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

Essay: Thoughts on Climate Change, GMOs and more

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

According to E.O. Wilson, (biologist, researcher in sociobiology, biodiversity etc.) we know very little about our planet, tens of thousand species are unknown to us.

Everything exists for a reason, even if it’s an evolutionary experiment that doesn’t work. Which of these animals, bacteria, insects, fungi, plants are crucial to the health of the ecosystems that they live in?  Which may cure certain cancers or Parkinson’s disease, etc.?  All of these and more possibilities are going to disappear if we don’t do something to change the environmental path we are on NOW.  Why is it we treat our planet and all that lives on it with such disregard that we ultimately destroy the only thing that we can live on.  It doesn’t make sense.

In our society, there are quite a few that believe that God will fix the problem, and therefore nothing needs to be done. And of course there are climate change deniers or people who don’t believe that we humanoids are causing global warming. First, God’s not going to fix it. Get over this. What about free will and being stewards?  That’s in the Bible too.  It is our responsibility.  

Our brain has evolved in linearly with our technologies which, as evidence by the nuclear threat and global warming, have had extremely dangerous consequences.  In part, it will be technologies that will help save us from the latter threat.  We can choose to use technologies to help or to destroy.  

Once upon a time, not long ago, the earth had lived in a reasonably balanced state for quite a few thousand years.  The carbon cycle (more on this later) remained stable, and as a result, life was given the chance to thrive.  That is no longer the case.  There are also some brilliant natural solutions to part of the problems we face.  These will be talked about in this section.

All of this began innocently enough as industrialization came into being, despite early warning signs: toxic rivers, plenty of belly up  fish, and deadly fogs in London were clear signs that the byproducts of an industrialized life had detrimental effects on the environment.   And, yes, they took measures to fix those problems.  At the time, the earth seemed to big to imagine that what we were doing could, especially in such a short amount of time, result in today’s fight for our lives.  

Though we had known for a long time that the rain forests are the lungs of the earth, it hasn’t stopped people from cutting them down.  Time and time again, greed and big money interests ‘win’ the battles over environmental wisdom.  

Then too, there is the dodgy topic of overpopulation.  One almost has to whisper this else knives be thrown.  We casually talk about how by the year of . . . the population will be 6 billion folks on our planet.  Though questions of sustainability is on the minds of concerned people, and many are attempting to figure out new technologies to sustain such a large population, does anyone think about what happens after 6 billion: 10 billion, 20 billion?  For GMO’s haters, GMO’s will be a part of our future, and may be the only answer to feeding an increasingly human take over of the earth.  Frankly, I’d prefer trying to figure out a way to make Global Zero Population Growth rather than large families something to celebrate.  Don’t misunderstand me, I understand the appeal of having a large family for those who want them.  However, what will their future look like.  I talk to expectant mothers all the time, and many simply don’t think about what their kids are inheriting.  A world of starvation will not be pretty.

SBLotusbMind you, we have been genetically modifying all sorts of things not long after humankind picked up a spade.  For example, apples originally came from Afghanistan.  They were very small and not particularly tasty.  How many varieties do we have today?  Long before laboratory manipulation of genes came into being, we created many new types of apples, as well as roses, breeds of dogs, etc..  Do you think it’s possible that plants have manipulated us to become more diverse as a species?  Check out Michael Pollan’s book, Botany of Desire: A plant’s eye view of the world (good read).  Think about everything that’s new before jumping on any no bandwagon.  For example, GMO’s. Yes, I think it’s better to eat organic vegetables for many reasons, though I do question if organic vegetables will be able to sustain our growing population.  Caution is warranted and we’re going to find out the effects, if any to eating these plants.  Yes, if some people get cancers or other maladies from eating these foods, that would be awful.  Is there a greater good scenario that comes out of this.  We don’t know yet.  And, if I am only thinking for myself, I would certain be happy to try a nut without oxalates – I don’t even know if a nut would be a nut without oxalates, but I sure do miss eating them. Life is one big experiment.  Whether one likes it or not, there has been great good that has come from the Industrial Revolution, unfortunately, if we don’t do something quickly, the negative consequences will be catastrophic. 

Briefly, there are ways in which we can help nature to begin to heal itself, and one has to do with reestablishing the natural way that the Carbon cycle operates in our environment. Carbon dioxide (too plentiful in the atmosphere = global warming) with the help of the sun is processed in plants, photosynthesis, breaking the bonds between Carbon and Oxygen.  The carbon is retained in the soil and oxygen is released in the atmosphere.  Carbon rich soil results in creating a soil ecosystem that supports a diverse population of thousands of beneficial organisms, and water is absorbed into the soil, resulting in an above ground oasis.  Many habitats have been completely restored in only a few years. It is suggested that the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could be reduced to below pre-industrial numbers using this method to be discussed shortly.  This does not mean that emission of CO2 and other poisons into the atmosphere also need to be curtailed.  See article entitled, Meet Allan Savory and read Cows Save the Planet by Judith D Schwartz. 

Meanwhile, back to GMOs.  This is not to say that anything goes or that we don’t need to keep an eye on what’s going on in the GMO world.  The morality of some of experiments must be addressed, e.g. turkeys  that cannot walk because their breast are too big–never mind what we might be ingesting because we really like white meat.  In so saying, one needs to consider the potential benefits.  Manipulating genes are curing some cancers and so on.  The thing is, we have a brain that reaches for the stars, and because of this you cannot stop humans from trying new things all the time–some will be great, and others terribly flawed.  Ethical issues need to be balanced with the common good, and inhumane practices, in my opinion, need to be outlawed.  Making a mouse chirp seems an unkind way to treat a mouse, particularly if it’s done just to see what happens, which seems to be the case here.  On the other hand, there maybe some unintended consequences that prove to be extremely beneficial, at least for the human population.  We don’t know.  Meanwhile, as long as animal experimentation exists, I hope the mouse is treated well and loved. 

If God exists, I believe s/he or it, would be very unhappy with our treatment toward this rare and fragile miracle called earth. It is all about the Mystic Law of Cause and Effect.  If we do nothing significant in a short time to change the direction we have caused, the effects of humankind climate change may be extinction.  If you believe that you go to hell after you die, think again, hell is already here.  The despair one experiences when watching their child die of starvation is hell.  If you think you are immune.  Think again.  Imagine what will happen when worldwide hunger, diminishing drinkable water, and refugees from disappearing lands, or uninhabitable regions descend on the few areas left that will be able to temporarily sustain life.  Imagine the suffering.

There really is hope.  There are great causes happening all over the world that point to restorative concerns of environments, some species coming back.  Next time I write, I will tell  you about some of the great strides that have been taken to stop the progression of climate change.  We don’t have to be doomed.  

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

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Cafe Press

A Plea to Get People Working To Fix our Planet

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species

As a Nichiren Buddhist, it is my goal to help end suffering and bring happiness to all human beings.  Our practice involves  protecting our environment too.  Now, most of us focus on helping people, and though this is my mission too, my specific area of interest is the environment and has been for over forty-five years.  If we don’t change our path, imagine the suffering of everything that will come.

Our planet is a rare jewel in the universe–a very tiny speck that just happened to fall into a fertile area for life to exist, and yet we have treated it as if it is indestructible as if there is somewhere else to go. If quantum mechanics notion of parallel universes is true, perhaps their are places to go.  This habitable zone is called the Goldilocks zone, a metaphor from the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”– not too large, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, ah! “just right.”

We’ve lost many of our natural wonders to pollution, over-use, littering and so on and on and on.  We have even lost our night sky in much of the world from light pollution, which is known to upset migratory paths of birds and insects. I remember looking up at the Milky Way (our galaxy) as a kid in Los Angeles.  Imagine that, in Los Angeles.  I wonder how many people even know what the Milky Way is or that it appears in our sky.  The Milky Way is our solar system.  In other words, we have lost touch with the natural world, and, as such, we haven’t given it much regard until now: now that the effects of our actions are being felt by all of us whether recognized or not, i.e. climate change which are directly connected to our actions.  A coming soon article in this section, entitled Meet Allan Savory and read Cows Save the Planet by Judith D Schwartz, discusses how humankind has depleted our soil of carbon, resulting in an increasing rate of desertification throughout the world and contributing to rising CO2 levels in our atmosphere equal if not greater than the Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.  The cure for this is quick and simple, and, for the most part, nature does the work.  

Our (people concerned about our environment) campaign to stop continuing on the path of self-annihilation that we are on needs to be very loud.  It’s the people that are going to get government to act.  Many changes are already occurring overseas.  However, we all need to act fast and do more. If we can make enough noise with enough people, they won’t be able to ignore us. In essence, if they choose not to move and move quickly and if we choose not to take action, then down the road we all may well be seen as mass murderers of an entire planet and near all that lives on it. The majority of us are good people, some greedy, some frightened of change, many controlled by big money, some just plain lazy and so on.  Regardless, it is my belief that Buddha Nature is within all, and the Wisdom of the Buddha is ours, and so a human revolution for the good is possible.  In order to do disrupt the path we are on, we are going to have to tackle big issues, oil, population growth, changing economics, turning lawns into meadows, changing our method of farming, etc. – no easy task. Everyone, regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, and social class can get involved and work together, after all we’re all equal from the earth’s point of view, and mine too.  It is always so wonderful to see all people working together after a collective crisis. No one is asking how much money do you make, or segregating jobs. No one cares how much education one has when they’re digging people out of collapsed buildings.  Let’s stop the destructive path we are  before we get into crisis mode, and let’s unite as one to save the planet.  Everyone has something to offer toward making the changes needed, respect all.  Else I am afraid will end up being a dog eat dog world–the law of the jungle. It doesn’t have to be.  I have faith in our abilities to do something great.  I have faith in the human heart to start doing the right thing for all.

I know we can all learn to work together in harmony with each other, treating all with dignity and respect as we must learn to treat our planet the same. We are here as stewards, let us act as such. Let’s get started.  Each day we waste is one day closer to crossing over the line of nothing we can do.  It is up to all of us.  These and other items related to this movement are available at Cafe Press Earth and World Peace

Table of Contents: Environmental Concerns and Solutions

Table of Contents: Save Our Home Endangered Species