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
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.