Monday, January 25, 2016

A Bad Environmental Assumption That Both the Left and Right Have

Over the weekend I was listening to something, I think put out by CATO, on GMOs. They had some Monsanto guy on there and then some woman who talked entirely to much about constructing a regulatory system that would include people's 'voice.'

So, yeah, it sucked. No talk about how pernicious the patenting system with regard to these things are, or how they modify so that the crop can sit in more of their chemicals. Like all scientific techniques, one can see how it could be used for good, and for ill, but- especially in big ag- the incentives are not good.

One of the underlying issues that seem to be assumed by most on the spectrum of American politics is that land taken out of production is good. The left seems to imagine it being returned to some primordial forest. I am not sure what the right imagines, but it does seem like they like wildlife, parks, hunting, etc...
and they appear to be especially quick to point out that they expect to be able to provide more food with less land in production with modern technology.

I no longer think this is a good model for a healthy environment. Take the prairie lands, for instance. Most of what the U.S. government has placed under its protection has ended up a desertified mess. The prairie lands were ecologically functional when wild ruminant herds roamed through them. These herds were constantly under predatory threat, so they acted in certain ways. They kept themselves bunched up together and moved more often. It turns out the grasses need these wild ruminant herds in order to grow optimally, so it also turns out the way to make that biome sound is to put ruminant animals on that land and graze them in a way that mimics wild animals.

There are many biomes. The premise is the same in all of them- figure out how to mimic what worked. In some cases, this will look like an actual farm, but in others it could be a minimally managed wildlife system. It would be 'in production' because there would be some form of harvest available.

With this model, not only do you have more food for the people, you have more things for the people to do. Much of the mainstream talk on this seems to center around crowding us into tiny areas, and having our food grown on ever smaller acreage- just bad thinking which will probably result in soylent green (the people variety).

The appropriate approach is people, on the land, with a coherent understanding of how to keep their environment working.

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