An excellent book review on what sounds like a totally fascinating book: Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil t..., by Judith D. Schwartz.
All I can say is our neighbours had a 3 bald acres of shale before they brought in horses and we all watched the grass grow beneath their feet.
Because cows have so many stomachs that kill will expire all the weed seeds before they're returned to the soil, and because every gardener I know recommends cow poo over horse poo, I totally believe there is a way to strike balance between animal and environment - starting with cows. They are such placid, uncomplicated animals that have surely evolved a co-existence with humans through millenia. Shame we eat so many of them.
This review was on the same page/blog as another topic I'm currently studying (aquatic ecosystems and restoration), so THANKS FOR POSTING, Elaine! (...and getting me back on track with the study...supposed to be writing essay right now!) :)
I've read it.
It's a bit journalese driven I reckon.
The best critique I've read of the whole carbon sequestration/grass farming ethos sits within the pages of Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie.
Absolutely the best agricultural/Permie/gardening/future feed book I've read. Just finished reading it for the second time.
Fairlie reviews some of the science here.
But then ee touches on the primary hesitancies when he argues:
"Within the scientific mainstream there is little consensus as to whether soil carbon sequestration can only have a minor impact upon our overall greenhouse gas emissions, or whether it has the potential to solve all our problems. One scientific paper, authored by nine scientists, states that “the IPCC estimates for the global mitigation potential of carbon sequestration in agricultural soils are 0.4 to 0.6 billion tonnes per year (over 100 years) — which is less than 10 percent of our current annual carbon emissions from fossil fuels … From this perspective, soil carbon sequestration can make only modest contributions to the overall need for mitigation of atmospheric CO2 build-up.” Yet a year later, one of the nine authors, Dr Rattan Lal — who is the world’s No. 1 guru on soil carbon, and frequently cited by the IPCC — stated that “the maximum potential rate of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) sequestration of three billion tonnes of carbon per year is high enough to almost nullify the annual increase in atmospheric concentration of CO2 at 3.4 billion tonnes per year.”
Schwartz isn't considerate of all the science and is gung ho without hesitancies. Her book should read "CAN cows save the planet?"
Also in Fairlie's book is a great review of the whole ruminant gases issue as the burps relate to climate change. Things ain't as simple as some vegans -- and many environmentalists -- argue. Fairlie also doesn't focus on wetland and rice growing as a MAJO source of these gases...but his analysis is fascinating.
The book really is, for me, life changing and makes Schwartz's book look like a postcard.
This issue is also taken up in some recent posts by Jerry Coleby-Williams where he reviews local stats on the topic, especially when he argues:
"According to the Australian Greenhouse Inventory in 2005, net Greenhouse gas emissions were 559,074,490. Therefore Australian farmers using compost could naturally sequester almost 70% (69.76%) of our emissions. "
I find that hard to believe....especially if we were planning to sequest long term over years, decades and centuries....but then Coleby-Williams does know his onions and I'm Mr Dabbler.
Stats make my brain freeze over ;-)
There's never one solution: a one-size-fits-all-solution is cloud-cuckoo-land. The solutions to many and varied issues are many and varied.
The soil especially from farms/gardens using non-organic fertilisers and not adding to their soil organic matter, could do with some extra carbon anyway. Whether that solves the issue I doubt, but it would help to have healthier plants and healthier animals and people.
The reality is that people world-wide are not going to give up eating meat however beneficial that may be.
Well I don't think not eating meat IS BENEFICIAL to the planet for a lot of reasons.
I think it is a false god --especially in grass and scrub dominated Australia.
But that's not the key debate. The key debate is whether carbon sequestration by farming food and fibre impacts enough on climate change gases to ameliorate our carbon emissions .
In this regard the locals -- such as in the Carbon Coalition -- can't be trusted as their figures are not open to replication and scrutiny...and should be challenged in the context of Abbott's Direct Action planwhcih has a large sequestration component.
On the other hand a Veganized planet is not something I'd want to live in as it will rely on manufactured fertilizers and scientistic fixes for inputs instead of manures...while often being dependent on imported protein ingredients to satisfy everyday protein needs.
Implicit in the new vogue for sequestration is a wistfulness that we don't have to do anything else in order to save ourselves.