According to many experts, there’s a perfect storm brewing. Between rising temperatures and drought caused by climate change, nearly one billion people are at risk of watching their homeland turn into deserts.
Many key agricultural areas in the United States are also at risk of falling to this "perfect storm."
However, according to award-winning biologist Allan Savory, there may a simple – and unlikely – solution to desertification: livestock.
“We know that desertification is caused by livestock, mostly cattle sheep and goats, overgrazing the plants, leaving the soil bare and giving off methane. Almost everybody knows this, from Nobel Laureates to golf caddies, or were taught it, like I was,” Savory said in a recent TED conference.
“Well I have news for you,” he continued. “We were once just as certain that the world was flat. We were then and we are wrong again.”
For Savory, using large herds of livestock to rotationally graze the grasslands mimics the massive herds that grazed that same land thousands of years ago. Their trampling and fertilization allow the grassland to regenerate, retaining water and bringing life back to the soil.
It also helps soil retain carbon, helping reduce global warming.
“We can work with nature at very low cost to reverse all of this,” Savory said. “We can take enough carbon out of the atmosphere and safely store it in the grassland soils for thousands of years, and if we just do that on about half of the world’s grasslands, we can take us back to pre-industrial levels while feeding people.”
As Savory concludes: “I can think of almost nothing that offers more hope for our planet, for your children and their children and all of humanity.”
Click on the video above to watch the full 22-minute segment.