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Rewilding Means More Conventional, Even Industrial, Agriculture

The farmers have been ripping off the workers for far too long.

There is merit to this idea that we should rewild some parts of that natural environment out there. I’d certainly like to see the lynx back in England – take care of more than the occasional toy poodle that would. That it would suck up carbon, that’s good.

The thing is though, this does also mean – inevitably – an expansion of industrial, chemicals fed, agriculture:

Restoring natural landscapes damaged by human exploitation can be one of the most effective and cheapest ways to combat the climate crisis while also boosting dwindling wildlife populations, a scientific study finds.

If a third of the planet’s most degraded areas were restored, and protection was thrown around areas still in good condition, that would store carbon equating to half of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution.

The changes would prevent about 70% of predicted species extinctions, according to the research, which is published in the journal Nature.

How cool. However, here’s that little sting:

We can produce enough food for the world and restore 55% of our current farmland, with sustainable intensification of farming

Ah, intensification.

So, that means we need to be efficient. Efficiency having all sorts of different meanings depending upon what inputs it is we want to be efficient in our use of. So, if we’re to say that we want to have more land for nature we can gawp at that means that we’ve got to be efficient in our use of land for agriculture.

Thus we are trying to reduce our input of land into the food system. OK – but chemicals and fertilisers and all that are substitutes for land as inputs into the food system. That’s exactly what they’re for. Just as an example, say that putting some mixed phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen on the land, those three being the trio of fertilisers generally in use, raises the yield from that piece of land. Which it does. Excellent, so by using fertilisers we require less land for any given amount of food produced.

Sure, we can run efficiency in other ways. We might say that fertilisers are bad, as in the organic movement. Or that mined ones are – organics again – or that industrial agriculture is to be abhorred or even that we must bury a cow horn by moonlight (no, really, this is actually something recommended by one sect). But if we do so then we need to use more land as a substitute for those fertilisers.

We have already decided, by aiming for rewilding, that we must economise on land usage. Therefore we need to be using the substitutes for land, fertilisers. The same being true of many other parts of industrial farming. To maximise the land area we don’t use we must intensively use that which we do.

That is, turning land over to wild nature by definition means that we must industrially farm the land that we still use.

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Esteban
Esteban
6 months ago

Hmm, “sustainable intensification of farming” – I think we need to know WTF they mean by that before we sign on the dotted line. I suspect it’s not as described above making the land more productive. Probably more like no meat.

Spike
Spike
6 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

Yes, indeed, any authority that could dictate the percentage of earth’s land devoted to farming (which would involve nation-by-nation quotas, if nations still existed, decided through politics and excuse-making) could also dictate the percentage of human effort devoted to meat production, or even ballet.

Spike
Spike
6 months ago

Mankind will eventually make farming more productive – as we make everything more productive – because there’s money in it (when not bogged down by fuzzy preconceived notions like “sustainability”). But we are likely to respond not by “rewilding” but by continuing to increase the human population.

The source notes in passing how insignificant the totals of man’s production of greenhouse gases (which in any case the life cycle reconverts), and how easy it would be to sink all that carbon – if it mattered.

Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
6 months ago

Highly recommend the recently published “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All” by Michael Shellenberger, which goes into this issue in-depth.

john77
john77
6 months ago

The alternative to more intensification of agriculture to permit rewilding is to halve the human population, which is often the hidden aim of “environmentalists”.

Boganboy
Boganboy
6 months ago
Reply to  john77

It doesn’t really seem all that hidden to me.

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
6 months ago
Reply to  Boganboy

Here follows a list of all environmentalists who have solved overpopulation by removing themselves from the equation: 1.

Michael van der Riet
Michael van der Riet
6 months ago

Tim we realise that you’ve dug your climate hole so deep that all you can do is keep digging and hope you come out the other side, but. Does anyone on the editorial side here understand how plant growth cycles work? When those green things come to the end of their life cycles, the technical word for it is “decompose.” That is to say, they release carbon dioxide. The more green things, the more decomposition and the more carbon dioxide. Add to that all the creepy crawly things that eat green things, which also have life cycles.

Snarkus
Snarkus
6 months ago

As the Oz greenies are successfully avoiding, that rewilding also means many more feral animals costing food producers even more. As usual, Oz governments regard the big national parks, scrub and reserves the inner city dwellers want as a problem for the surrounding farmers, not them as land owners. No doubt same issue would and is occuring elsewhere. Wolves and lynxes might sound good, so long as you dont live near them

asiaseen
asiaseen
6 months ago

And, plainly, you do not understand the concept of “cycles”.

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