How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change

“The most massive tsunami, perfect storm, is bearing down upon us.”

I came across this video yesterday that I felt compelled to share here on my blog today. The video is from the recent TED conference held in Long Beach, California and is presented by Allan Savory, a biologist who has been investigating new ways to help combat the increasing scourge of desertification.

Savory offers compelling evidence that one of the most successful methods for converting deserts and drylands back into grasslands is to use increased numbers of livestock in controlled grazing patterns that mimic the natural patterns of migrating herds of animals. It’s an idea which goes against your intuitive beliefs about overgrazing and land management, but from the examples of success that Savory has had with the communities he has worked with, this looks incredibly promising.

If you’re not convinced that desertification is as serious as is being made out to be, just take a look at the map below from Savory’s presentation.

Global Desertification – NASA

Now, almost two-thirds(!) of the world is classified as desert or drylands…and it’s increasing.

I first started looking into this subject matter in 2007 and began documenting the effects of desertification in north and north-west China the same year. I worked on this subject matter for over 2 years, travelling across the northern deserts from Beijing to the borders with Pakistan documenting the expansion of  drylands and the subsequent impacts on people throughout the country. To see more of the work, please go to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting website.

Desertification in China. Ningxia Province. 2008

I really hope that this TED presentation reaches as many people as possible (there are 165,000+ views and counting so far) because this is an underreported crisis that has been sneaking up on humanity for a very long time. It’s time that the issue was properly acknowledged in the mainstream media and hopefully Savory’s call to action will be heard by those who can make changes in affected communities throughout the world.


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One Comment

  1. Sean, thanks for sharing, I passed it on via my Facebook. He mounts a compelling case but of course there are questions. I’m concerned about his acknowledged track record, which isn’t so successful. But that acknowledgement makes me believe that his questioning, and subsequent research, have been done with a powerful motivation. I hope that his results prove true and that he hasn’t ignored any controls etc. that would undermine it due to his focus.

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