Around the world, grasslands are becoming deserts. The cumulative effects of over-cultivation and deforestation have degraded top soil and killed off grasses, perpetuating desertification. Over-grazing by livestock has been named one of the culprits, however, current studies by the Savory Institute provide a more holistic view of the problem.
I can understand the desire to create test-tube beef, however, I cannot understand the need. For millions of years grassland ecosystems contained large herds of ungulates. In the recent past, North America was home to enormous numbers of bison. Can any cultured meat really beat the energy efficiency of sun-to-grass-to-grazer? Sunlight is free, test-tubes (or whatever substrates they use, temperature control, facilities, etc.) are not.
And it turns out grassland ecosystems need grazing herds…
So who is “saving the planet”– those making technological advancements that make us able to function without parts of nature (like making meat without ungulates) or those shifting backwards in time, to past ecosystem states?
As I’ve expressed in previous posts, I am nature-biased. It may be that we will lose the grassland ecosystems and further develop our human environments. Organisms will adapt, evolve and many will face extinction but humans may prevail. However, the energy to replace ecological functions has to come from somewhere. Biological systems are amazingly complex, yet they provide us with such simplicity. I love innovations in technology as much as the next guy but everything was already provided for us: clean air, clean water, grass-fed steaks with a side of vegetables; producers, consumers and decomposers to help cycle nutrients (hey, remember the circle of life?…it moves us all)
Support your local ranchers – Eat Wild.