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Added: Saturday, September 15, 2012

Reclaiming vast lands destroyed by ruinous agricultural exploitation

The Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP) is a very ambitious undertaking: to identify the best methods for the large-scale restoration of ecosystems damaged or destroyed by hundreds or thousands of years of ruinous agricultural exploitation. In the Loess Plateau of China, in mountainous regions of Ethiopia, and in the hillsides and wetlands of Rwanda this work has transformed barren, brown landscapes into a functioning, green ecosystems where rainfall infiltrates, erosion is curbed, water is retained, and much needed crops are grown for local populations that have struggled with hunger for generations.

The reappearance of vegetation in these areas not only improves standards of living locally, it has a global effect, increasing photosynthesis, which reduces the greenhouse effect by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

It must be remembered, of course, that these ecosystems were not destroyed in some great Ice Age or Global Drought. They were destroyed entirely by the acquisition of Totalitarian Agriculture and resulting population growth it fostered — which growth required ever more relentless agricultural exploitation. In other words, the peoples of these areas were early victims of the Food Race that is driving humanity down the road to extinction. The EEMP, then, is merely restoring the land to the condition it was in at the beginning of the agricultural revolution, and it's to be hoped that wiser agricultural policies will prevent the same ecological devastation from occurring again.

Local populations will now be in balance with local resources, and that's all to the good. No longer will food producers be in a position to say that food production must be increased so as to feed the hungry of these lands; the peoples of these lands will be feeding themselves.

But it also has to be recognized that the inhabitants of these lands will be in a position to fully participate in the Food Race between food production and population growth that is propelling humanity toward extinction. Under new, improved conditions, their food production will increase, and this increase will be answered by an increase in population — which in turn will be answered by an increase in food production, only to be answered by another increase in population. It's inescapable: every increase in food production results in an increase in population. It has done so for ten thousand years, and it's not going to stop now.

But we can't expect these people to be responsible for ending the Food Race just because, for a change, they're living within their resources. Ending the Food Race is a problem humankind must solve as a whole — all of us together if we want our species to have a future on this planet.

For a revue of the environmental restorations discussed above: Hope in a Changing Climate.

For the EEMP: Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation.

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Site design and content, © 2018, Daniel Quinn