I have been writing about how to regenerate the environment using agriculture for quite a while now… but I have never actually written about why it is a good idea to regenerate the environment in the first place! I will remedy that oversight here…
Why should we regenerate the environment?
- Oxygen for us to breathe.
- Living, photosynthesizing plants produce oxygen. We need oxygen in order to live. Therefore, the less total plant growth on the planet the less oxygen available for us to breath. (reference)
- Regenerating landscapes almost always increases the plant growth on those landscapes. Turning a wild landscape into cropland almost always reduces total plant growth on that landscape (reducing the oxygen produced). Therefore, when landscapes degenerate and lose plant growth, we are putting our oxygen supply at risk.
- Sustainable food production
- Chemical fertilizers will not last forever. Eventually we will have to learn to grow food without petroleum-based chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides).
- Farmers have already discovered how to produce food on an industrial scale without these chemicals (read “The Future Of Agriculture Is Regenerative”). It requires healthy soil and a healthy ecosystem. Most agricultural soils are currently in a degraded state, which would make them unsuitable for growing crops without fertilizer and pesticide inputs. In order to develop sustainable global food production it is necessary to regenerate these farmland soils and ecosystems.
- Healthier food
- Crops produced in a biologically healthy soil are healthier for humans to eat. They contain all of the nutrients we need. Crops produced in degraded soils do not provide all of the nutrients humans need… leading to many health problems in our populations. (reference)
- Regenerating landscapes will, therefore, produce healthier food for humans.
- Reduced poverty, starvation, and disease in developing countries
- Reversing desertification and regenerating landscapes in the dry areas of Africa and the Middle East will greatly reduce human suffering.
- Regenerative Agriculture is the only land use capable of reversing desertification (which is the cause of most of the starvation seen in the map above). See “Why Properly Managed Livestock Are Necessary In Brittle Environments”.
- Reduced drought and water shortages
- Healthy landscapes are able to hold more water in their soils, mitigating the effects of drought. (reference1, reference2) Bio-diverse ecosystems are also able to cope with droughts better. (reference) This puts water back into the aquifers and also provides surface water even when there has been no rain. (reference)
- Reduced landslides, flash floods, etc.
- A healthy landscape will absorb most of the water that falls onto it into the soil, instead of allowing it to run over the surface. This reduces, or eliminates, all floods (including flash floods). (reference) Landslides are primarily caused by removal of vegetation from steep slopes. Regenerating landscapes almost always requires a re-vegetation of steep slopes with trees or shrubs who’s roots will hold the soil in place, preventing landslides.
- Reduced environmental toxins
- Regenerating landscapes means we can produce food without using toxic chemical fertilizers or pesticides. (reference) Healthy soils also act as filters, removing pollution from water that passes through them. (reference) The microorganisms which exist in healthy landscapes are also able to break down many toxins. (reference)
- Beauty from healthy landscapes
These three books are great places to start:
This article will give you a quick taste of the Regenerative Agriculture movement.
And this one will introduce you to some of the most important techniques in Regenerative Agriculture.
You can find even more resources here.