Boulder, Colorado. This past week the Savory Institute sponsored an International conference in Boulder, Colorado with a title of “Transforming the Landscape: Using Holistic Management to Create Global Impact”. The conference featured Allan Savory, a former Rhodesian game warden and parliament member. For forty years Savory has been promoting the idea that rangelands suffer from too much rest—in fact Savory claims that if ungrazed by livestock grasslands will become “decadent” and die. He advocates using what he calls “herd effect” to stimulate grass production.

If you are familiar with the debates between the timber industry and environmentalists over old growth forests, you may notice some similarities. Loggers for decades said we had to cut down forests to “improve” forest health by removing the “old decadent” trees to promote young “vigorous” forest growth. What both Savory’s prescription and those of the timber industry have in common is that they are essentially economic concerns disguised as biological fact.

Grasslands do not care whether they are maximizing forage production—that is a concern for ranching, but it’s not necessarily important to ecosystems. Just as there are many ecological benefits to old growth forests, there are ecological advantages to old growth grasses that seem to be completely overlooked by Holistic Management advocates.

Savory’s talk hasn’t changed significantly over the years. He’s still making the same arguments that desertification is caused by what he terms overrest, which is to say the absence of domestic livestock grazing. His assertion that vegetation not grazed by domestic animals ignores the fact that all grasslands are grazed by native herbivores from nematodes to grasshoppers to ground squirrels to elk to zebras or guanacos depending on the continent, but not always by cattle or sheep. There is really no such thing as an “ungrazed” or “over-rested” grassland.

Savory asserts that we must use cows to reverse desertification to save the world. I’m all for reversing desertification—but since livestock are among the major factors contributing to global desertification, I’m a bit skeptical that they are a solution to this problem.

Needless to say Savory’s prescriptions have found favor among many livestock advocates. It’s convenient to suggest that grasslands “need” livestock to be healthy—just as the timber industry suggests forests need logging to promote forest health—and conveniently make a profit at the same time.

The evidence for the assertion that grasslands “need” domestic livestock grazing is based upon economic values. Under certain conditions, some studies suggest that livestock grazing may increase above ground biomass as plants strive to repair the damage done by animal cropping. (However many of those studies are done in controlled labs where water and nutrients are unlimited–and competition with other plants is non-existent). Since grasses require leaves to photosynthesize, loss of these leafy materials causes a plant to reallocate energy from roots to the production of new leaves. The cumulative effect of this compensatory growth may result in greater biomass production–assuming conditions for regrowth exist–i.e. there is no drought or the plant has not entered the dormant season.

However, interpreting this as a “benefit” distorts what is occurring. Just as I can demonstrate that coyotes will respond to trapping, poisoning and shooting and compensate for these losses by producing more pups, does not mean that coyotes “need” to be shot, poisoned and trapped.

Savory is a genius of promotion, and his latest claim and twist on his prescriptions is hitching his wagon to climate change. Not only do grasslands require grazing to be healthy, but in grazing rangelands, Savory asserts by happy coincidence, one can reduce global warming through sequestration of carbon in the soil.

It’s a message that is popular across the political spectrum. Right wing conservative ranchers love hearing that what they are doing is actually good for the planet, while urban liberals love the fact that they can eat “grass fed” beef and feel like they are saving the world.

There are many problems with many of Savory’s assertions and claims which I will take up momentarily; however, I want to acknowledge first that some of his observations and prescriptions are based on sound observations.

WHAT WORKS IN HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT

A corner stone of Savory’s Holistic Management is an emphasis on timed compact grazing. In other words concentrating livestock on a small area so that they have little choice but to consume everything, then moving the animals to a new pasture to give the area time to recover from the grazing impacts. These ideas are not new—though they may sound revolutionary to people who haven’t studied range science. But various permutations of timed grazing coupled with extended periods for recovery has been a pillar of range management for decades.

The other major component of his management scheme is planning and monitoring—which is essential to any good enterprise—something that is not new or distinctive. Nevertheless many ranchers have operated their ranches for decades using techniques and ideas that worked for their grand pappy. Adopting Holistic Management often does lead to improvement in both range condition, and their bottom line, in part because concentrated livestock more efficiently removes vegetation and extended rest allows the plants to recover from the negative effect of herbivory.

However, efficient consumption of forage is not the same as sound ecological condition. Like a new diet plan that inspires people to actually monitor what they eat, Holistic Management often works better than what they did previously, which usually included no planning or monitoring.

Savory’s genius is his ability to incorporate in his talks what may appear to be contrary positions, therefore appeals to a wide diverse audience. People tend to hear what they like, and ignore the rest. So when Savory says grasslands require cattle to be healthy and we need more cows not less—the ranchers cheer him on. But he also says that we must reduce fossil fuel consumption and burning, grow local food, get rid of industrial agriculture, and reduce global warming and thus environmentalists and liberals are captured by his rhetoric as well.

Indeed, I agree with him on these last statements myself. However, though I agree that we should reduce industrial agriculture, burning of fossil fuels and so forth, I don’t necessarily get to the conclusion that he offers: that the solution is to raise more cattle on more land.

LACK OF SCIENCE

Savory’s speech was littered with jabs at science and the scientific method. He continuously suggested that universities, scientists, government agencies and others interfered with creativity and new approaches. Certainly we can all find examples of where world view and mind set interfere with thinking outside of the box. Savory was not the only speaker who castigated the scientific method. There is a reason for this distrust of science in particular—much of what Savory suggests as truths are disputed by scientific studies.

Replication is a hallmark of the scientific method. One must be able to get the same results as another person to be considered valid. In many instances, scientists looking at various components of Savory’s claims have not been able to duplicate his successes. He and his supporters have a pat answer to those scientists and studies—Holistic Management is about adaptation—continuously monitoring and tweaking management so that it’s impossible to duplicate results. Every ranch and situation is unique they assert, so the scientific method is not an appropriate way to judge Holistic Management’s effectiveness.

Because of his distrust of science (even though he uses a lot of scientific sounding words to describe why Holistic Management is superior to other methods), there were few scientists presenting at the conference. Rather the conference was loaded up with testimonials from practitioners—ranchers and others who swore they saw measurable differences in the land due to Holistic Management. Perhaps they have—I have no reason to doubt their experiences.

Nevertheless, the observation of something and the reason given for that observation can often be wrong. I can observe that the sun circles the Earth—and if I were an ancient Roman, I might conclude the Earth is the center of the Universe. How observations are interpreted is important to furthering our understanding of the world. Science helps us understand and interpret observations more clearly.

The few scientists that did appear as speakers at the conference were a bit more guarded in their statements. One scientist from the Nature Conservancy, for instance, chastised Savory and other speakers for calling grass “decadent” no doubt uncomfortable with that negative description of something that is perfectly natural—old growth grass plants.

Another scientist from the U of Wyoming threw a dart at the carbon sequestration saying that in arid grasslands productivity is so low that little new carbon sequestration can occur. She emphasized that there was a lot of carbon in grassland soils, and the best strategy was to protect that carbon storage, but she suggested that the only benefit to proper livestock management is that it would not deplete carbon storage.

The scarcity of scientific presentations was a hallmark of the conference. For instance the first panel discussed how livestock grazing improved carbon sequestration. Who were the “experts” on carbon cycles? Peter Byck, a film maker, Courtney White of the Quivira Coalition, a livestock advocacy group, and Jim Howell of Grasslands LLC, a ranch manager for an investment group. Carbon cycling is a very complex and specialized topic, yet these panelists acted as if they understood the chemical and other factors related to carbon sequestration. Perhaps the only reason no one challenged their presentations is that most of the audience likely knows even less about carbon cycles so has no way to evaluate the statements from the panelists.

It is true that a great deal of carbon is stored in rangeland soils given the percentage of the terrestrial ecosystems that are considered rangelands. However, it is also true that grazing arid grasslands as found in the American West does not significantly increase carbon storage and can reduce it by disturbing soils.

This was followed by a discussion of markets and how markets could be used to influence agricultural producers. The panelists  included John Fullerton of Capital Institute, Hunter Lovins of Natural Capital Solutions, and Woody Tash of Slow Money fame. Though I agreed with much that these innovative thinkers had to say about economics, none had any expertise in atmospheric chemistry, range science or even ranching, yet were enthusiastic in their endorsement of livestock production as a cornerstone for global carbon reduction.

What was a common theme of the conference is the total buy in to the assertion that livestock grazing can significantly reduce global carbon—but the scientific evidence for such carbon reduction is weak and conflicting.

COWS ARE A MAJOR SOURCE OF METHANE

Furthermore, none of the speakers discussed the elephant in the room regards livestock and greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock are among the biggest sources of methane, a gas that is far more efficient at trapping heat than CO2. Even more damning are some recent studies that suggest that grass-fed beef produce more methane than cattle fed high quality grain and other feedstock. This is largely because grass is relatively poor forage and must reside in the rumen longer for digestion—all the while rumen bacteria are producing methane. Nevertheless whether grass fed or grain fed, a full accounting of all the energy inputs would likely conclude that any sequestration attributed to livestock grazing is dwarfed by the greater contribution to GHG resulting from livestock production.

And so it went. A number of speakers asserted that with rising human population we have no choice but to produce more beef to feed a starving world, never once mentioning that reducing population is a far better goal than increasing beef production. It never ceases to astound me that ranchers in the US seem to believe that starving Africans are going to pay for imported American beef to satisfy their hunger. If they can’t find the money to buy much cheaper food like rice and beans, it seems absurd to think they would benefit from more cattle production.

TESTIMONIALS

Most of the afternoon and the following day featured testimonials from various Holistic Management advocates from around the world. Indeed, on the agenda this was titled “Stories from around the World.” Stories are good ways to communicate ideas, and all these testimonials were heart-felt and I am certain in many instances, the positive changes described were real. I felt more like I was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where each person tells how they used to mistreat the land until they discovered a way out of this abuse by adopting Holistic Management.

Nevertheless, as with earlier presentations there was a paucity of hard evidence —the kind that scientific treatment could document. In many cases, what was presented as improvement in range condition was real—at least in the mind of the story teller. Confounding abiotic effects that could be responsible for the observed “improvements” resulting from increased precipitation or changes in timing of spring green up and so forth were not discussed.

Nor were there significant side by side controls without livestock grazing. In most situations, the Holistic Managers took badly managed ranches and turned them into better managed lands. Those telling the stories related how they had significantly increased their stocking rates (number of cattle), and “improved” the range condition by eliminating “decadent” grasses. And perhaps they did.

ECOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF LIVESTOCK

However, it is important to note that increasing stocking rates due to more efficient utilization of a ranch’s grasses is not the same as protecting ecological processes and/or biological diversity. For instance, the intensive grazing strategy advocated by Savory variously called “mob grazing” “short duration grazing” or other names, so completely removes cover that it is no longer suitable for ground nesting birds or hiding cover for small rodents.

The near completion loss of flowers and other forbs can negatively impact pollinators like butterflies, bees, or species like hummingbirds that depend on finding certain plants blooming during a short and specific period of time.

The heavy “hoof action” of large numbers of livestock bunched together destroys soil crusts which are important to protecting soils from erosion and reducing weed invasion. Hoof action can also compact soils reducing water infiltration.

The unnatural concentration of manure from large herds of livestock is often a source of water pollution and nutrient enrichment that can negatively impact water quality. So called “decadent” grasses are important for capturing snow in the winter, and thus increasing water storage, not to mention they help to shade soils reducing soil evaporation.

And the efficient grazing of an entire ranch increases the possibility of livestock spreading exotic weeds everywhere.

Since livestock often spread disease to wildlife, introducing domestic animals into every nook and cranny of a ranch or grazing allotment increases the chances that wildlife will contract diseases.

And one can’t be putting the bulk of forage into an exotic animals like cattle without significantly reducing the food available to other native herbivores.

In the American West where nearly all ranching operations rely on irrigated hay and pasture, the production of beef also contributed to dewatered streams. Irrigation water storage is also the chief reason for the construction of western dams which fragment aquatic ecosystems.

None of these negatives are unique to Holistic Management, indeed are common to most livestock operations to one degree or another.

Furthermore, there is a wide variety in vegetation, soils, precipitation, timing of precipitation and evolutionary history in what we term “rangelands” that Savory fails to acknowledge. For instance, sub-tropical grasslands in Africa that receive 20-30 inches of precipitation during the growing season and have a very long evolutionary history with large herds of herbivores are very different from say the Great Basin desert in the western US with less than 10 inches of winter precipitation during the dormant season and no recent evolutionary history of large herds of grazing mammals.

Bison, for instance, were absent from the Great Basin, and asserting as many Savory and his supporters suggest that vegetation in this region requires “herd’ effects conveniently ignores this ecological fact of life.

MORE LIVESTOCK EQUALS GREATER DOMESTICATION OF THE EARTH

In the end the conference did not offer more new insights into Holistic Management. Other than trying to tie HM practices to carbon sequestration, most of the arguments in favor of Holistic Management were a rehashing of the same material that Savory has offered up for decades. There is still a huge lack of hard data demonstrating any significant advantage to Holistic Management over other well managed livestock operations. And the new claim that livestock grazing is the salvation for climate change needs a lot more research with controlled situations and full accounting of trade-offs (do more cows negate any benefit that may result from carbon sequestration—if indeed livestock grazing actually promotes this?).

I think that most of the ranchers and others who are advocates of Holistic Management are among the innovative thinkers in the livestock field. But the most important question that is never broached is whether raising more livestock and domesticating even more of the Earth for human benefit is ultimately a wise strategy.

 
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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

29 Responses to Impressions of Savory Institute International Conference

  1. avatar Barrie Gilbert says:

    George,
    You pretty well summed it up. I spent my academic career hearing from our Range Dept. how cows were good for the public ranges when managed well. Trouble was, no-one could show me a producer who was doing it. Cattle have destroyed watersheds, increased erosion, killed off the Greater Sage Grouse since the late 19 Century yet I saw a proposal at Utah State to use sheep to rehabilitate range for grouse. Nobody in Utah or Colorado uses findings of Dr. Clait Braun, who called it like tit was (over-grazing). He spent his life studying grouse and ptarmigan…its all there. And he is still trying to get the deniers to get the message.

    It would be interesting to see what peer-reviewed studies that Savory has published.

  2. avatar LM says:

    That you George W for that wonderful summary. I can only hope that the REVA Act will be enacted and that third party, scientifically honest, conservation-minded people (like the people on this subscription) will be able to purchase those allotments and manage to bring the range back.

  3. avatar Jim Seko says:

    A wise person has the ability to let go of long held beliefs based on new evidence. I remember when I thought a vegetarian diet was a healthy diet. Then I learned about B-12 deficiency in vegans. Then I learned about the vast difference between grass fed and CAFOs. Grass fed beef is every bit as healthy as wild-caught salmon but MANY people still have the FALSE impression that red meat is unhealthy. It annoys me when vegetarians preach that red meat is unhealthy WITHOUT making a distinction between grass fed and CAFOs. Then I learned there are three kinds of omega 3 essential fatty acids and two of them can’t be obtained from a plant-based diet. The more I learned about nutrition the more I became convinced that conventional wisdom regarding the health benefits vegetarian diets is wrong AND these myths are perpetuated by vegetarians with a strong bias against eating meat. Furthermore, many vegetarians are not satisfied with eliminating meat from their own diet. They want to sell other people on the idea. I see the same exact pattern among vegetarians regarding Allan Savory. It’s an emotional reaction by vegetarians who don’t want this to be true even though, if it is true, it might save the planet. From now on, you can’t use the argument that red meat is bad for our health or bad for the environment. Feel free to eliminate anything you want from your diet but don’t try to recruit people based on false claims.

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      I’m not a vegetarian. Problem with your statement is, grow more food for people, the population will continue to grow, which means have to produce more food and produce more commodities for an ever increasing population. Sooner or later, the crash will come.

      Zero population growth is the answer.

    • avatar JB says:

      Jim:

      I think your response confuses vegetarians who are motivated by health reasons with those motivated by animal welfare concerns. In my experience, there are far more of the former than the latter.

      More importantly, there is compelling scientific evidence that the consumption of red meat is associated with increased risk of chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease) and more recently, mortality (see: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1134845). This paper summarizes data from two studies of more than 100,000 Americans:

      Meat is a major source of protein and fat in most diets. Substantial evidence from epidemiological studies shows that consumption of meat, particularly red meat, is associated with increased risks of diabetes,1 cardiovascular disease (CVD),2 and certain cancers.3 Several studies also suggest an elevated risk of mortality associated with red meat intake. However, most of these studies have been performed in populations with a particularly high proportion of vegetarians (such as Seventh-Day Adventists in the United States4 and several studies in Europe5). A recent large cohort study6 with 10 years of follow-up found that a higher intake of total red meat and total processed meat was associated with an increased risk of mortality. However, this study did not differentiate unprocessed from processed red meat, and diet and other covariates were assessed at baseline only. Furthermore, to our knowledge, no study has examined whether substitution of other dietary components for red meat is associated with a reduced mortality risk.
      .

      Therefore, we investigated the association between red meat intake and cause-specific and total mortality in 2 large cohorts with repeated measures of diet and up to 28 years of follow-up: the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) and the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS). We also estimated the associations of substituting other healthy protein sources for red meat with total and cause-specific mortality.

      We analyzed data from 2 prospective cohort studies: the HPFS (initiated in 1986, n = 51 529 men aged 40-75 years) and the NHS (started in 1976, n = 121 700 women aged 30-55 years). Detailed descriptions of the cohorts are provided elsewhere.7- 8 Questionnaires were administered biennially to collect and update medical, lifestyle, and other health-related information, and the follow-up rates exceeded 90% in each 2-year cycle for both cohorts.

      Results. We documented 23 926 deaths (including 5910 CVD and 9464 cancer deaths) during 2.96 million person-years of follow-up. After multivariate adjustment for major lifestyle and dietary risk factors, the pooled hazard ratio (HR) (95% CI) of total mortality for a 1-serving-per-day increase was 1.13 (1.07-1.20) for unprocessed red meat and 1.20 (1.15-1.24) for processed red meat. The corresponding HRs (95% CIs) were 1.18 (1.13-1.23) and 1.21 (1.13-1.31) for CVD mortality and 1.10 (1.06-1.14) and 1.16 (1.09-1.23) for cancer mortality. We estimated that substitutions of 1 serving per day of other foods (including fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy, and whole grains) for 1 serving per day of red meat were associated with a 7% to 19% lower mortality risk. We also estimated that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% in women in these cohorts could be prevented at the end of follow-up if all the individuals consumed fewer than 0.5 servings per day (approximately 42 g/d) of red meat.

      Conclusions. Red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, CVD, and cancer mortality. Substitution of other healthy protein sources for red meat is associated with a lower mortality risk.

      I would sure like to believe that eating grass-fed beef will lead to better health outcomes, but I haven’t seen any science to suggest that this is the case? Perhaps you are familiar with some?

      • avatar Mark L says:

        Good info JB. Does the study define which animals are part of the ‘red meat’ crowd?

        • avatar JB says:

          Sure:

          “In each FFQ, we asked the participants how often, on average, they consumed each food of a standard portion size. There were 9 possible responses, ranging from “never or less than once per month” to “6 or more times per day.” Questionnaire items about unprocessed red meat consumption included “beef, pork, or lamb as main dish” (pork was queried separately beginning in 1990), “hamburger,” and “beef, pork, or lamb as a sandwich or mixed dish.” The standard serving size was 85 g (3 oz) for unprocessed red meat. Processed red meat included “bacon” (2 slices, 13 g), “hot dogs” (one, 45 g), and “sausage, salami, bologna, and other processed red meats” (1 piece, 28 g). The reproducibility and validity of these FFQs have been described in detail elsewhere.9- 10”

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        There has recently been put forward a good hypothesis (meaning it needs to be tested further and makes sense to me 😉 ) that much of the cardiovasular danger from red meat comes not from its saturated fat and cholesterol. Instead it is due to its inherently high concentration of carnitine.

        Carinitine is an essential nutrient, but too much of it is dangerous. Fortunately, your body makes most of the carnitine it needs.

        The chemical itself is beneficial, but it stimulates the growth of a certain kind of flora (microbe) in your gut. A short burst of carnitine from red meat (or presumably from a supplement too) will do no harm. In fact there is evidence it increases your energy level.

        However, continual dosing (eating) of high levels of carnitine cause increased growth of a bacterium in the gut that digests digests L-carnitine and turns it into a compound called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO causes arteriosclerosis in (mice at least).

        In terms of human evolution this makes sense. Killing a large animal with its red meat was likely relatively rare in a hunting and gathering society and cause for a feast. Such a short term burst of carnitine would not sustain much of a change in gut flora.

        However, a civilized, wealthy, society with easy access to red meat, day after day, would over time greater alter the microrganisms that share our food, and do a good part of our digestion for us, for both good and ill.

        There is an added complication. It turns out that the red meat effect is stimulated even more when the red meat eaten is processed meat.

        For those who take L-carnitine supplements for energy and muscle building, it would be best to rethink this. Read Red Meat May Clog Arteries Because of Gut Bacteria. Scientific American on-line (and other places).

        • avatar Ida Lupine says:

          In terms of human evolution this makes sense. Killing a large animal with its red meat was likely relatively rare in a hunting and gathering society and cause for a feast.

          Excellent post. I have wondered about this myself, and of course it is also similarly true for the diet of a predator.

          Growing up not wealthy, I didn’t have a lot of red meat in my diet either, (more of a ‘Sunday Dinner’ type thing) so I think that is why it was easier for me to eat less of. Pork, seafood, poultry, stews, and of course breads and potatoes. Lamb was a treat too.

          Today I don’t eat red meat, very, very little pork (bacon), poultry and seafood. Some vegetarian substitutes for dairy are surprisingly good.

  4. avatar Paul Sheldon says:

    Well put! As with old growth forests, many advocates of holistic management fail to discuss the holistic web of life embodied in intact grassland watersheds prior to the importation of invasive, exotic herbivores and the invasive, exotic plants and weeds that accompanied them. I haven’t seen any analysis of tilth, soil microbes, or diverse flora and fauna comparing holistically managed range lands with heritage grasslands. Wes Jackson might have some info at the land institute, but I think most out their work is on food crops, not forage.

  5. avatar JC says:

    Good critique. Savoy seems like someone who would make something up just to get himself promoted, read, and bought into for by those who benefit from his theories (i.e., cattlemen and sheepherders). I really have a problem when someone says unequivocally “more is better” without the support of overwhelming cold scientific fact. Like a house of cards, his arguments should come tumbling down someday.

  6. avatar mikepost says:

    Holistic is the key word. When our fire management pratices are not in tune with range management and forest management practices, then GW is not entirely correct. There is some truth to the position that if it doesnt get burned it should get cut or grazed on some kind of managed basis.

  7. Immer Treue writes: “Problem with your statement is, grow more food for people, the population will continue to grow, which means have to produce more food and produce more commodities for an ever increasing population. Sooner or later, the crash will come.

    Zero population growth is the answer.

    Right on all accounts!! Also, the Brazilian Rain Forest (“lung of the Earth)is being decimated at an astonishing and unsustainable rate in order to clear the land for soybean harvesting in order to feed the meat craze in China because China has run out of land for this purpose.

    I remain hopeful that humanity can shed the livestock strangle hold on our imperiled ecosystems via laboratory grown meat (ref: SCIENCE NOW story about muscle growing in a lab in the Netherlands a/k/a the “$350,000 hamburger” recently manufactured/showcased in a London restaurant).

    • avatar alf says:

      “Zero population growth is the answer.”
      No, NEGATIVE population growth is the answer — the ONLY answer.

      If the human population of the planet were limited to no more than about 500 million people, and if the wealth were distributed more or less equally, ever human on the planet could enjoy a comfortable, western European life style, as it existed in the middle or late 1970s, and it would be sustainable — we could live IN PERPETUITY at that level off the interest on the bank account. Above that, we’re spending the principal faster than whatever interest accrues : It’s not sustainable.

      We’re now at over seven billion and counting — 14+ times what’s sustainable.

      NEGATIVE human population growth is the ONLY way to get us on the road to sustainability; everything else only postpones the inevitable.

      • avatar ZeeWolf says:

        I agree with you, alf. The zero population boat sailed some forty years ago. The issue that needs to be addressed is how we get from 7 billion to 1/2 a billion. That is, how do we get to your number without genocide, plague, nuclear war, etc… The burgeoning human population is the elephant in the corner that nearly everyone ignores.

        • avatar Mark L says:

          Educating women seems a good start. Seems to bring population numbers down whereever it’s done
          .

          • avatar Snaildarter says:

            Studies have show that when women are in control of their own bodies and contraception is available they have families with about 2 kids. Given that about 20-30% of the population does not want to reproduce at all,depending on which culture you are in, so the problem is solved easily. Unfortunately in much of the third word, women are still property and religions often get in the way big time. A 1/4 of the so called prolife movement in this country do not believe in contraception at all.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        Alf,

        Before you start “reducing” the worlds population, you’ve got to get it to stop growing. 500 million, at least at this time is utterly ridiculous. The world infrastructure would collapse.

        Regardless, back to the topic of this thread, Savory’s plan is well, rather unsavory for the world.

  8. Addendum:

    Re: “Savory’s genius is his ability to incorporate in his talks what may appear to be contrary positions, therefore appeals to a wide diverse audience. People tend to hear what they like, and ignore the rest.”

    Does anyone care to opine who else this describes??

    • avatar Immer Treue says:

      Does Lysenko come to mind, and what he did to Soviet agriculture?

      • avatar Ralph Maughan says:

        Immer Treue,

        Yes, but we have far more Lysenkos with political influence right here in America than the Soviet Union ever did. They sound the death knell of the country.

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      Any and all politicians – doublespeak and each side only hears what they want to hear. I don’t know why we keep falling for it.

  9. avatar Mark L says:

    So red meat on a seasonal basis might make more sense (and avoiding processed meat). On a historical level, this may better reflect our traditional consumption habits. Dumping red meat for lent (or beyond) seems like a decent idea. Any comparitive stats on fish, turkey or chicken in the study?

  10. Ida Lupine writes:

    “Any and all politicians – doublespeak and each side only hears what they want to hear. I don’t know why we keep falling for it.’

    Agreed. Double-speak is especially TRAGIC in the case of innocent and voiceless wolves where the best available deal substituted for the best available science.

    Where our famous wolf recovery coordinator extolled one moment: “the best available science is the bottom line” and the next, dismissed the value of science (defined as “knowledge”): “Wolf management has nothing to do with science. It’s all about how many wolves people will tolerate.”

    And let’s not forget: “A little blood satisfies a lot of anger.” (in reference to the 2,000 wolves taken out by Wildlife Services PRIOR to delisting).

    • avatar Ida Lupine says:

      Terrible. It should be reworded to say “a lot of blood satisfies little anger.” They always want more blood and have an endless supply of anger, it seems.

    • avatar ZeeWolf says:

      Valerie – where did these quotes, presumably from the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator Ed Bangs, originate?

  11. avatar Snaildarter says:

    Too many humans,too many cows and too many people who distort the facts like Savory.

  12. ZeeWolf writes:

    Valerie – where did these quotes, presumably from the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator Ed Bangs, originate?

    Here you are:

    KQED (on-line) interview: “Retired U.S. Recovery Coordinator on Wolves and California.” (full quotes from Ed Bangs): 
“Wolves kill livestock much less frequently that you’d believe. I find it amazing still, given almost unlimited opportunity, that there’s as few depredations as there are. But resolution of some of those conflicts has involved killing wolves. We’ve killed nearly 2,000 wolves in the past 20 years.”
“You have to remember wolves and wolf management has nothing to do with reality. I mean we can give you facts, you know, all the biology stuff. That isn’t what people talk about. They’re talking about what wolves mean to them symbolically. years due to livestock depredation.”


    also: NY Times.Com” “Hunting Wolves Out West: More, Less?” (12/16/11); Helena Independent Record: “Montana’s Wolf Man.”; High Country News: “Not Your Average Bureaucrat.”

  13. Addendum:

    ZEE WOLF and others:

    “the best available science is the bottom line” SHOULD BE:

    “The bottom line is science is being followed.” (Helena Independent Record: “Montana’s Wolf Man.”)

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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