Thursday, 21 March 2013

Ecosystems: the BEST way to feed the world & reverse climate change

Image: Living Wall EcoSystem above Turtle Pond

Why biomimicry is essential for human beings to restore vital habitat

PeapodLife has been expounding the virtues of taking a biomimetic, ecosystems approach to solving problems related to improving habitat for human beings, food production, cleaner air, more amicable environment, etc.

But it’s important to note that we aren’t the only ones advocating this approach to solving some fairly major social, environmental, climatic problems:

Published by TEDtalksDirector on Mar 4, 2013 

Of course, for every good approach there will always be the naysayers, the contrarians, the hyper-sensitive reactionary views. In this case, from those living in or around deserts. In this article by Chris Clarke, posted on KCET East California, he vehemently opposes and dismisses the notion of biomimicry as proposed by Savory, claiming that the Ted Talk “teaches us to disparage the desert.”

Nonsense. No one is saying that established deserts or even ones created by man due to short-sighted approaches to land management don’t have their own thriving ecosystems.

There is nowhere on the planet that lacks an ecosystem. From Arctic tundra to desert to underwater volcanic vents, everywhere on this planet is a vibrant habitat for some kind of life, even if it’s just a community of single-celled organisms.

The question is, are these habitats low-order ecosystems or a high-order ecosystems? What is best for the planet as a whole? When we consider the transformation of solar energy into plant tissue, herbivore, carnivore and human, logic dictates that the evolution of high-order animals and ecosystems took place for the sake of the global ecosystem (called by many names, “Gaia,” Mother Earth, etc.)

Human beings require high-order ecosystems to thrive. As does the planet as a whole. We cannot subsist on desert plants and animals, nice though they may be, and the planet needs us, along with other high-order organisms, to do our part in the transformation of solar energy into ever more subtle forms before they can be absorbed by the planet body (which it cannot do directly).

This is the point Savory’s detractors are missing. He is not talking about stealing desert habitat away from nature. He is talking about cooperating with nature. He is advocating a biomimetic approach to assisting nature in reversing the adverse effects of short-sighted behavior of human civilizations past (and present).

If we can cooperate with nature to raise a "human-made" desert from a low order ecosystem to a thriving high-order ecosystem, creating habitat for tens of thousands of more species of plants and animals and reduce the suffering of hundreds of millions of human beings…?

All the scientists and naturalists out there crying foul on behalf of the desert need to hang their intellects up for a moment and spend some time in their hearts for a while.

Image: PeapodLife "Angolo" High-Order EcoSystem growing Moss and Orchids 


  1. Well, you've certainly managed to hang up your intellect on this one. What an utter load of horseshit! Evolution is not teleological. A high-order ecosystem may be something you try to create on your buildings (and seriously, that sounds like good work), but there are no high-order and low-order ecosystems in nature. A true desert, such as the Mojave, has as much or greater species diversity as other ecosystems that appear more "green". Trammeling more and more of the earth's surface for human needs is the exact opposite of what we need to do. Perhaps you can find it in your "heart" to realize that species and habitats have a right to exist for our own sake, and don't exist for us to play God with. So keep up your good work with sustainable buildings, but keep your opinions out of natural systems, please.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think perhaps we didn't make ourselves clear: we are not in favor of changing the ecosystems of existing deserts. We support work which reverses the effects of "man-made deserts" that is, reversing the effects of desertification due to water, land and forest exploitation practices by short-sighted people.

      Surely you are not arguing that deserts created by slashing & burning rainforest for monoculture farming (the topsoil blown away by the winds after two seasons) are "natural systems" in the strictest sense.

      PeapodLife is all about supporting mother nature in her efforts to deal with the cancer she is living with (this humanity). It is not about picking one kind of ecosystem over another; it's about recognizing we have chosen one species over everything else...and that is flat-out wrong.

  2. "We cannot subsist on desert plants and animals, nice though they may be"? Er ... people *do*, you know. Ever heard of the Tohono O'odham? No, I don't suppose you have.

    1. You're right. We hadn't. Thanks for educating us on these remarkable people. Is it your argument that we should continue with our desertification practices worldwide because the Tohono O'odham point the way to the future viability of this humanity?

  3. What is best for the planet as a whole? Does Peapod determine this? And if so, what distinguishes Peapod from the parking lot developers? Because they can come up with flimsy, scientifically unsupported rationales for how their strip mall benefits the larger world as well.

    By the way: I spend time in my heart just fine. Those desert plants and critters Peapod finds "nice" but ultimately inferior to Hereford steers? I love them. And I am angered when ignorant people like Peapod or charlatans like Savory denigrate them.

    But those overly intellectual scientists inform us that the heart is part of the circulatory system, not the digestive system, and thus if you want to spend time in your heart, you won't get there by sticking your head up your ass. Just a thought.

    1. The planet determines what is best for itself. We ultimately belong to Mother Nature and She will do with us whatever She will.

      Please be so kind to share your opinions without putting words in our mouth. No one said desert plants and animals were inferior to anything or anyone.

      Would you trade the rainforests for desert? Because human beings are doing just that: slashing and burning to the chimes of cash registers.

      We have nothing against deserts nor their denizens. This is a question of balance, and when one looks at the satellite imagery over the past few decades, the creature we've been denigrating the most is ourselves: no other creature on this planet shows the same level of shameless wanton destruction of habitat, in an apparent march toward mass-extinction of all life, ourselves included.

      To try to reverse the effects of our errors is not wrong; nor should it be taken personally by those who love and care for desert habitats.

      If you do spend time in your heart then you must have some feeling of what may be called karma; some sense of the responsibility we have to our home planet (and each other as brothers and sisters) and the consequences of inaction in the face of tyranny and exploitation.

  4. Your blog post seems to boil down to this:

    It's totes okay to drive hundreds and thousands of species to extinction, on *purpose*, so that more humans can eat more.

    You are looking to destroy the environment with no actual benefit from it. Where are you planning on getting the water from to greenify the desert? I could dump trillions of tons of alfalfa into the soil and it wouldn't change a thing with the amount of rain most deserts receive.

  5. Of course I meant "for their own sake" not "for our own sake." Mark that down to my incensed rage at your ignorant post.

    1. Relax. Take a deep breath. Nothing in the universe exists "for its own sake." That is an ego-intellectual argument created by human beings. There are only three factors in nature: birth, death, and sacrifice. Everything that exists cycles on the wheel of cause and effect, and has an ultimate purpose in the grand scheme of things. That this humanity fails to comprehend this is tragic. That we project onto Mother Nature our fears, anxieties, and pettiness is perverse. Meditate on the fact that your body is not "yours;" nor does it exist strictly "for your sake." Perhaps then you will sink deeper into your heart and the "incensed rage" of your knee-jerk reaction will subside as well.

  6. So everyone here likes deserts so much they want more of them. They also want to cook the planet in the process. Savory is right, there is no other option, except maybe what Geoff Lawton is doing, but he is trying to Green the deserts as well, so he is 'trameling more and more of the earths surface for human needs.' What about the Elephants, zebras etc that now have flowing water year round in areas where Savory has managed, where before there was one muddy pool during the dry season. I bet they would thank him if they could. Obviously drinking all that saline desert water has lowered your IQs to dangerous levels.

  7. Excellent well stated argument! Unfortunately many of the so called "ecologists" don't seem to get it even now. Which is pretty ironic because even the old deserts of the world are in decline too!