Monday, July 27, 2015

The Soil Food Web

"We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” ---Leonardo da Vinci

Below is a copy and paste from the presentation found here.  This serves as a excellent introduction.  Keep in mind as one is reading that the Soil Food Web is crucial to the health of the Earth, all plants, animals, humans, economy, society, the water supply, weather, etc.  The Soil Food Web can be destroyed by various means (including most if not all methods of tilling).  I think it is time to come to terms with the statement of fact that our post-modern industrial agricultural practices are unenlightened.  And our economy/food system is full of greed and causing untold suffering to the inhabitants of the Earth.  

But it doesn't have to be this way. There are ways of growing food without even having to till. And there is an obligation to regenerate and rebuild soil as we grow for the sake of future generations. And because soil is so essential to human life there is a moral obligation to educate every single person on this Earth as to the importance of soil, so that they can make clear decisions as to how they are going to treat it, who they are going to let take care of it, and what they are going to do to help preserve and save it.  If anything why not learn about soil?  This is where our bodies come from and this is where they are going.  Its in the Bible.  And it is intellectually stimulating, not to mention wonderful to learn about soil.  Da Vinci craved what we have learned.  

Without further ado here is a summary of the Soil Food Web:

Role of Plants in Soil Food Web

• Provide up to 60% of their photosynthetically fixed carbon dioxide as food to soil organisms through their roots as root exudates (sugars, amino acids, proteins, shed root cells)
• Provide large quantities of plant matter to soil (food for the food web)
• By providing a rich source of exudate foods, plant roots are
surrounded by a thin layer of intense biological activity – the
rhizosphere – where most soil biology is found
• By selectively secreting specific foods a plant can stimulate specific organisms to grow and perform a required function for the plant (facilitated by high biodiversity)
• By regulating microbial growth in the rhizosphere, plants exert a very sophisticated influence on the structure of soil food webs and
patterns of nutrient flow


• One acre of healthy soil contains the weight of a cow in bacterial biomass
• One gram of healthy soil contains over 25,000 species and a billion individual bacteria
• High bacterial biodiversity is required to sustain soil functions under a variety of soil conditions
• Engage in nitrogen fixation (rhyzobia, Azotobacter), chemical detoxification (pseudomonads), promoting root growth and mycorrhizal associations
• Decompose organic matter and dissolve minerals and hold these nutrients
• Cover leaf and root surfaces to provide pathogen protection
• Secrete polysaccharide glues that stick soil particles together, increase water holding capacity and improve soil structure
• Serve as a primary food source for protozoa and bacteria-feeding
nematodes that (bacterial nutrient cycling channel)
• While most bacteria are beneficial, a small number are plant pathogens and usually occur in unhealthy and unbalanced soils
• Recent research has discovered numerous bacteria species inside plants and performing beneficial functions

• Important decomposers of high-carbon and resistant materials (lignins, woody materials) – including toxic organic chemicals
• Efficiently retain nutrients/micronutrients in their biomass and prevent them from leaching (N, P, S, Ca, Fe and others)
• Build soil structure by holding soil particles (glued by bacteria) together in aggregates with their long hyphal strands
• Improve air and water infiltration and the water holding capacity of soil
• A small number are pathogenic in contrast to large numbers of beneficial fungi that perform essential soil functions, including suppression of pathogenic species and the soil conditions permitting their appearance
• Can trap and digest nematodes
• Serve as a food source for fungal feeding nematodes and microarthropods that then excrete plant available nutrients (fungal nutrient cycling channel)
• Easily damaged by high-till and chemical agriculture
(supplement via Martin Crawford.  Recently it was discovered that fungi through their networks can move nutrients such as nitrogen, from overstocked areas to under-stocked areas via a structure called mycorrhiza

Soil Protozoa
• Single-cell flagellates, amoebae and ciliates living in water films on soil and organic particles, feed on bacteria and small bits of organic matter
• Feed almost exclusively on bacteria and in this process take in more nitrogen and nutrients than they need and excrete these in plant available form (Key discovery by Elaine Ingham in the 1980s) NUTRIENT CYCLING RATES are proportional to protozoa populations.
• Activity and movement helps maintain soil structure

Soil Nematodes
• Small round worms living in water films, inside plant roots and inside insects or their larvae
• Movement through soil spreads bacteria and fungi
• Classified as bacterial, fungal or root feeders - or as predators
• Participate in both bacterial and fungal nutrient cycling channels
• Provide food for other soil fungi, insects and worms

. . And The Rest . . .
• Mites
• Small insects
• Worms
• Centipedes, millipedes

Biology Releases Nutrients
• Available nutrients may be lacking
• A reserve of nutrients (total extractable) exists in MOST soils that are more than adequate to grow any plant.
• ACTIVE, functioning organisms must be present to move nutrients from one pool to the next.
• Organisms killed by pesticides or high levels of inorganic fertilizers must be replaced

What Compost Can Do
• Suppress Disease (no more pesticides!)
• Retain Nutrients (stop run-off, leaching)
• Make Nutrients Available at rates plants
require (eliminate fertilizer)
• Decompose Toxins
• Build (re-build) Soil Structure
• Reduce Water Use, increase water holding
capacity, rooting depth
• Supports and restores soil foodweb health

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adam, Soil and the Microorganisms

The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the Earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.  (Genesis 2:7)

You formed Adam from the mud of the Earth, and you gave Eve to him as a helper. (Tobit 8:8)

Some of them, God exalted and magnified. And some of them, he set amid the ordinary days. And all men are from the ground, and from the Earth, from which Adam was created. (Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 33:10)

A great occupation was created for all men, and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, from the day of their departure from their mother’s womb, even until the day of their burial into the mother of all: (Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 40:1)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches that Adam, and via Adam all men and women are formed from the soil of the Earth.

As some passing remarks, what fascinates me is that a healthy soil has an abundance of microorganisms, especially bacteria.  A teaspoon of soil has between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria, and God knows how many different species.  And there are other 'orders' of microorganisms such as fungi, protozoa and so on. This web of microorganisms perform crucial functions for the health of plants as well as the entire ecosystem or Earth.  This is why it is so harmful to rip up soil.  The soil ecosystem gets disrupted, exposed and so on.  And all the organisms could die or be exposed to predators.  As a wise farmer once said, soil is the skin of the Earth. A human would never rip open his skin and turn it over . . . would they?

Similarly, Adam has an array of bacteria.  The estimates are stunning.  One often sees the ratio of 10 bacteria for every one cell. Or say an estimated 100 trillion bacteria in and on the body. In the gut alone there are 500 to 1000 different species.  And most of these are beneficial or are suppose to be.  There is a symbiosis. And the scientists are discovering that these are crucial in the proper functioning of organs and the entire body.

And of course our nutrients start in the soil before assumed to our bodies.  I just think it is fascinating to make the connection between a human body and the soil.  Especially the gut.  Its like what is inside our gut becomes our own personal soil again, like in the beginning.  This gets moved around and processed by the bacteria like those in the soil and we are continually reformed anew.

Anyway, I'm not trying to make a theological argument, a proof or any formal personal interpretation.  My beliefs are expressed in previous posts.  I'm just enjoying the connection . . . And I hope in the future we can learn a better appreciation, and understanding of soil as well as care.  This will not only benefit us who ultimately came from the soil, but also the entire Earth.             

Greed vs. Generosity

The two G's

Greed: I have more and more; you have less and less.
I am filled to the full and as a consequence you are deprived.
I take without thought of what you need.
I do less so that you have to do more.
I live and you die.    

Generosity: I have less so that you can have more!
I deprive myself so that you can be filled!
I only take what I need so that you can meet your needs.
I do more so that you have to do less.
I die so that you may live.

I name this the Mas O Menos Principle

A family, a community, let alone a whole ecosystem cannot endure in greed. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Nobility of Gardening and Growing Things from Lord of the Rings

Captain Faramir, you have shown your quality, sir - the very highest.

The Shire must truly be a great realm, Master Gamgee, where gardeners are held in high honor.
White stone walls surrounded a square of bare earth, where scant and scrawny weeds were trying to grow. Sam was standing in the middle of it, beside the broken pedestal of what once had been a proud fountain.

"Are you mourning the lack of proper growing things?" said Aragorn, stepping up behind him.

Sam turned around with a start. "Your Majesty. Sire. I mean…"

"Strider will do," Aragorn said with a smile.

"Strider." Sam said it awkwardly, blushing as he did so. "I… Yes. Yes, I am that. They're such noble men and their towers are so lovely. How did they let their gardens fall into decay?"

"How indeed?" Aragorn said. He bent down to examine the broken pedestal. Some of the weeds that were pushing through the stonework would soon be beautiful. No, he thought, they would not be weeds. Gondor would cherish the wild flowers and the stray seeds that came blowing in from the wild, and would call no growing thing a weed. "Many in Middle Earth have forgotten the value of the things that the hobbits still hold dear," he said. "It will change. There will be gardens again."

. . .

"Not so silly," said Aragorn. "I once knew a man who determined another's worth merely by their choice of sword." He walked to the stone parapet, and stood looking out over the city. "There will be gardens again, Sam. The elves will come, and there will be light and flowers and all manner of fair growing things."

"That's nice," Sam breathed. "I would like to see it. But… I would like to go home, too."

"Maybe you will have both." Aragorn placed his hand on Sam's shoulder, and there was no sudden tension, no pulling away; Sam had grown past that months ago. "I was foolish that night. I was weary of distrust, and chose a foolish way to try to win your friendship. You were right to distrust me. And you were right in other ways, too. You can tell a lot about a man by his attitude to gardens and growing things."

"Yes," said Sam. "Yes, you can."

And together, side by side, they looked out at the city and saw the gardens that would one day grow within the white stone walls.

Martin Crawford Quote from Farm of the Future

Martin Crawford is from Great Britain. He has one of the most advanced Forest Gardens in the world, which he uses for research and writing. He was featured in a stunning documentary called "Farm of the Future" about a woman who decided to take over her father's farm only to realize that she had to change her design and strategy. The reason I provide this quote is because the world is slowly becoming a desert. The world is losing an estimated 83 billion tons of soil a year to useless crops. People who care have to start new designs, models and strategies for the future.  This is just one little idea.  

Crawford: ""It would help enormously if we could move more towards nuts and less towards cereal, because they are much more sustainable, they grow on trees. In other parts of Europe, and France and Italy, there is a big tradition of growing hazelnuts and chestnuts, walnuts, you know an orchard crop like a sweet chestnut takes far less energy and maintenance to grow than a field of wheat."

Narrator: Less energy and maintenance maybe but can the yield of nuts really compare with a cereal crop?

"Well if you are talking sweet chestnuts, you're talking two tons an acre which is pretty much what you get growing wheat organically. And the composition of chestnut is almost identical to that of rice. So its very similar to other growings in terms of caloric value."

Narrator: Even at this experimental stage Martin's nut orchard and forest garden have a huge output for such a tiny acreage.

What I have noticed is that the nutrition of modern cereals such as wheat, corn, rice is useless. Why we grow these valueless foods is inexplicable other than greed. Their lack of value is due to a variety of reasons such as hybridization, GM, poor soil quality, pesticides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers, monoculture, etc.  Most of these cereals are processed in some possibly harmful ways before consumption. In addition these crops are the major culprits of soil destruction which is the base element of healthy ecosystems, economy, civilization and most importantly humans.

What I've noticed is that the most nutritious form of wheat, called Einkorn, also the most ancient strain never hybridized, (presently grown in Italy in a decent manner) has about the same nutritional profile as most nuts and seeds. I could pick pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc. and there is a similar profile. So the point of this is that if we want a decent staple we have to turn to a source that is sustainable and mimics the first major crop of civilization namely, Einkorn. The body can learn to digest nuts well with the help of Sea Salt and one doesn't need as many of them to meet caloric needs. Everyone could rest under their nut tree.  Or we could continue to eat donuts, use disgusting corn products and destroy the Earth.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Allan Savory Quotes (Founder of Holistic Management)

Allan Savory is a brilliant man. I guess you could call him an ecologist.  It doesn't matter.  He stumbled upon a way to reverse desertification, and help build a genuine economy through wise use of livestock. He originated what he calls Holistic Management defined on his institute's page as
"a process of decision-making and planning that gives people the insights and management tools needed to understand nature: resulting in better, more informed decisions that balance key social, environmental, and financial considerations. 
In the context of the ecological restoration of grasslands worldwide, managers implement Holistic Planned Grazing to properly manage livestock — mimicking the predator/prey relationships in which these environments evolved."

I wholeheartedly encourage ordinary people, especially the young to familiarize themselves with these insights provided by Savory and others, for example those of the Permaculture movement, and other ecologists or soil scientists. They deal with the very heart of civilization, economy, poverty, globalization, and many of our modern temporal problems. We simply have yet to understand the crucial importance, not to mention our physical connection to the soil, to grasslands, trees, plants, animals, water, the Sun and our collective harmony in working together. We have to learn how to synthesize. What is happening subsumes everyone and everything.

A third of the Earth's landmass surface is grassland and 70% of that grassland is now degraded due to greed, poor planning, unwise decision making that lacks foresight, as well as horrific modern industrial agricultural practices. But it doesn't have to be this way. There are wise and highly skilled ways to live in harmony with the way the Holy Father established our Earth. We need the Earth. We need our ecosystems functioning optimally in order to have peace and a halfway decent life not to mention all the things we take for granted in culture. In order for this to happen, people have to undergo what Pope Francis calls an ecological conversion. And be forewarned you might just fall in love with plants and animals; the soil, and come to love the Earth and appreciate her potential abundance and appreciate what God has provided for us so meticulously. That is the worst harm that could come from all this.

Although many individuals, including scientists, are embracing ideas like Savory's, mainstream establishment won't disseminate until public opinion changes.

Here are some quotes from Savory from books and interviews:

There is only one option, I'll repeat to you, only one option left to climatologists and scientists, and that is to do the unthinkable, and to use livestock, bunched and moving, as a proxy for former herds and predators, and mimic nature. There is no other alternative left to mankind. 
only livestock can reverse desertification. There is no other known tool available to humans with which to address desertification that is contributing not only to climate change but also to much of the poverty, emigration, violence, etc. in the seriously affected regions of the world. 
Eroding soil is the biggest single export from the U.S., billions of tons outweighing all grain, timber, military hardware and commercial products–even with the greatest know-how in the world. Where there used to be soil cover there is none and all soil cover comes from life. Once there are exposed soils there is erosion, non-effective water cycles, mud slides off California, ever increasing floods in Texas and along the Mississippi. These floods and this flood damage will just get worse and worse and worse and the deserts will just keep advancing, advancing, advancing until somebody, someday finally understands what I’m saying. 
The cycles of life are birth, growth, death, and decay, commonly known as a carbon cycle. When biodiversity is lost the cycle is broken. Overgrazing is due to the time of exposure of the plant to the animal and re-exposure of the plant to the animal. When a plant is grazed it is given a few more years of life. “Severe grazing,” says Savory, “is absolutely essential to maintain biodiversity. 
When scientists stopped the overgrazing of plants by fencing exclosures, the plants all grew, reports were produced, and government regulations and laws were written. Then the scientists went home. “Thank God the plots remained. If you study them today you will find enormous evidence that rest doesn’t work in brittle environments. There is biodiversity loss, soil erosion. Births have stopped, the carbon cycle stopped, everything is going to hell. We’ve removed pack hunter and we’ve removed herding prey and the whole breaks up. It’s a disaster. 
Next is dying villages and towns. People settle with their families in an area with high biodiversity and they are prosperous in farming and ranching. They form towns, villages, businesses, churches, schools. Then biodiversity starts to go. A butterfly has gone. A bird has gone that used to be there. Old ladies in tennis shoes draw attention to it and we deride them; we are worried about jobs and our cattle and farms. As the biodiversity continues to be lost, so we start to lose farmers and ranchers and the people are not sympathetic. ‘Joe was stupid, he was greedy, he overstocked.’ As the biodiversity loss continues, the population isn’t big enough to support the schools and churches. The villages and towns fold up. The people in cities are not sympathetic. It’s more workers for the factory. And as the biodiversity loss continues, finally, the cities fall. Throughout history, that has always happened. 
An explanation of the serious situation with mega-fires - affecting climate change – increasing mega-fires – speeding climate change on and on in one of nature’s positive feedback loops. I also saw a good documentary film about the problem. Once more we face the reality that institutional scientists are trying to address this explosive feedback loop relying on the two main tools humans have to manage our environment –fire and technology. A physical impossibility. And our mainstream institutions continue to reject using the one thing that can break this loop – livestock with Holistic Planned Grazing. Only increasing public awareness can lead to institutional change. But this is not emotional so never goes viral as it needs to if our millennial generation is to have any hope.

Closing remarks: Poor use of cattle, not to mention conventional civilizations has contributed to loss of biodiversity and desertification over the past thousands of years. So one has to be skilled and make good decisions for everyone involved, not just the human community but all the members of the ecosystem.

But its kind of hard to argue against the fact that the predators alone have done a much better job of taking care of the Earth as humans. The herds just need a little guidance and they can beneficially process the Earth. They can help build soil, mildly till to get air and water into the soil, spread seeds, cut grass before it dies, spread bacteria crucial to soil, and they tap into the carbon cycle. You need that top of the chain, and humans can mimic this wisely. Nature is highly ordered. It seems like chaos to a shallow or untrained mind, but there is this profound unity. The Holy Father conceived it, but we are the ones who seem to be darkened and not see it all. Predators are essential. They are kings. They force the herd, bunch them up, and keep them on a schedule that is beneficial to the entire animal and plant kingdoms.

The modern scientists use three tools to restore ecosystems, namely, fire, rest and technology. But these are all proving to fail over the long run. It is clear that we need to use animals. Just think of the Western United States prior to the immigration of the Europeans. It was covered in rich top soil, feet of it, due to the Buffalo population continuously working the land for God knows how many years. And then the greedy white man comes along and sucks it dry with no long term provisional plan to regenerate the soil. Now there are millions of acres of wild preserves that are failing due to lack of biodiversity not to mention the cycle of ravenous greed practiced by industrial agriculture, enslaving animals and polluting the land. The bottom line is we need to start using animals wisely.
So what Savory offers is a new tool, or a new way of understanding that can be adopted, but it seems that it takes some imagination, thinking, planning, patience and practice. This is not a quick fix. And this is not something that one can practice thoughtlessly. One has to become like a king, like the lion. And people need to band together with some common education and goals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pope Francis on Greed

When I was younger it seemed that lust was a big problem.  I saw it everywhere including myself.  But now as I begin to age a bit, it seems like I'm beginning to see greed everywhere. Even the animals, plants and the land is infected with human greed, so to speak. Its scary.  And its a brutal cycle.  Its in our food supply, our water, our air, our housing, our very bodies, our words, our labor, our organizations and communities. Its everywhere.  Just use your imagine and you will see.  
The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home. (Pope Francis, Address in Bolivia)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Mongolian Steppe (What If We Change Series by John D. Liu)

Quotes taken from John D. Liu's documentary watch here

I really love the Steppe. The Steppe makes me happy, free. It really is boundless. And when you are out on the Steppe, your spirit becomes free. And in many respects Mongolians are like Americans, and like Russians, and like Australians maybe . . . We have something in common which is this love for limitless space.

Covering 300,000 square kilometers, approximately the size of Japan, the eastern Steppes of Mongolia are the last unspoiled and continuous grassland ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere. Unsurprisingly, Mongolia's resource hungry neighbors are interested in tapping the natural wealth above and below ground.

We are still ecological illiterates. We don't know to what extent we can degrade an environment before it can't compensate anymore and collapse us.

Mongolia's tradition of viewing man as part of nature, not as something opposed to nature. Man is an inherent, organic part of nature. We never talk of taking something from nature, about conquering nature. We are part of it, we have always been part of it and this is how we survived in our harsh climate.

The Mongolians have no concept of the ownership of land. The grasslands have always been shared by all.

There are few place left on Earth that have not been destroyed or degraded. Yes there are patches of of habitats, but in the Eastern Steppes you have a whole ecosystem with its distinctive species of plants and animals. You have the huge herds of gazelles [aproximately 3 million], You still have wolves that prey on them. you have little quasac foxes, you have cranes, you have a whole spectrum of wildlife that still lives in its original state.

The biggest threats to the grasslands come from outsiders who want to exploit the resources. Intensive attempts to exploit the grasslands came in the 70 years of Communism following the Mongolian Revolution of 1921. Inefficiency and ineptitude limited the impact of attempted exploitation, but the Steppe is still littered with Soviet style industrial or agricultural projects. . . Now, commercial forces are poised to exploit the resources of the Eastern Mongolian Steppes. And these are well-funded and well-organized.

The fact is most of the destruction done in the world is due to wastefulness and poor planning. But you can develop without damaging the environment.

Basic to the Mongolians ability to pack up and move at a moment's notice are their ingenuous and cozy dwellings. White felt tents called ger in Mongolian and yurt in Russian . . . can be erected in 30 minutes. The horse is central to the Mongolian way of life. Children learn to ride before they learn to walk

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Petroleum Man

"What we can say now without any shadow of doubt
is that Petroleum Man is just about extinct by the end
of this century. That poses the thorny difficult question:
Will Homo Sapiens be as wise as his name implies
and figure out a way to live without oil which is the
bloodstream of virtually everything."

--- Dr. Colin J. Campbell (retired British petroleum geologist)

I copied this quote from the BBC documentary called Farm of the Future following the journey of a British woman who decided to take over her father's farm, but discovered that she could no longer keep it running like her father did.  She found other farmers in her region who pioneered other visionary techniques and designs.  For example one that pasture raised cattle year round, another that used Permaculture Design and ecological restoration and still another that designed a Forest Garden or Food Forest as they call them.

There are thousands of brilliant low-energy ideas out there that yield just as much if not more than conventional farms.  These ideas are full of wisdom and have been proven effective.  One works in harmony with the Earth instead of against it.  Its wonderful to learn how plants and animals can work together, mutually benefiting one another and it must be fulfilling to guide this process and survive using these techniques.  Right now the Permaculture movement is on fire across the world.  It is just a matter of whether or not we are going to wake up before its too late and many people have to suffer in the transition.  It sure would be nice if governments would pitch a little help, but don't count on it.  Some are corrupt and in deep with Petro, GM seeds, and other evil greedy stuff that is difficult to imagine.

Personally I've made some adjustments for the transition off of oil, but what I've discovered is that in a lot of ways I'm inept.  I don't have the skills or even the means to do what I could have easily done were I younger.  I'm a sore product of my ridiculous culture. But dear young people, you don't have to be.  You can lead a renewal.  The Earth is crying out to be restored.  And we can make a new start, and live wisely and skillfully.  Help the Earth, and let it help you, and help each other.  Don't live like Petroleum Man. Petroleum man is unhappy, unhealthy, unwise, and unenlightened.                   

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Monday, July 6, 2015

John D. Liu's Economic Insights

The first two are from his What If We Change Documentary On Ecosystem Restoration:

"We know when we see a forest, a lake, an ocean, a natural river system, the atmosphere, that it's more valuable than computers, cars or airplanes, which are valuable for a short time, but then become trash and pollution. Natural systems are renewable, they've evolved over billions of years and they're infinitely valuable. Now the global economy values production and consumption. And although few understand it . . . speculation. This has suggested, the finite derivative shaped from the Earth's natural systems are somehow more valuable than the infinitely renewable systems themselves. This is simply wrong. We need to admit that we made this mistake. If we were to truly value natural system then nature would become the basis of our money and our economy. To protect nature then would not be a luxury but a necessity."

"For the sake of the children, and the future generations of life, we need to consciously decide to do the right thing. When we do that we will understand that wealth is coming from natural ecosystem function and this will be the basis of our money. And all human actions will go to conserving, and protecting and restoring ecological function on Earth. We need to shift societal intent away from the production and consumption and waste of the economic system as we see it now, and realize that wealth is coming from natural ecosystem function. If we run out of water, if we run out of fertile soils, if we run out of air, if we alter the climate, our money is worthless."

"The products and services that we derive from those [functional ecosystems] are derivatives. It's impossible for the derivatives to be more valuable than the source. And yet in our economy now, as it stands, the products and services have monetary values, but the source- the functional ecosystems- are zero. So this cannot be true. It, it's false. So we've created a global institution of economic, economic institutions and economic theory based on a flaw in logic. So if we carry that flaw in logic from generation to generation we compound the mistake."

John D. Liu from Hope in a Challenging Climate #1 of What If Change? Series

"One thing that became apparent early on is the connection between damaged environments and human poverty. In many parts of the world there has been a vicious cycle . . . continuous use of the land has led to subsistence agriculture. And generation after generation this has further degraded the soils. The vital question we have to ask is: Can this destructive process be reversed?"

"As on the Loess Plateau centuries of subsistence farming practices have stripped the land of natural vegetation. The dry gullies bear the scars of flash floods. These gullies are evidence of the enormous power of runoff during a rainy season. Without vegetation on the hillsides when the rain comes, the water doesn't soak into the ground, but flows away in a flood. Then it's not available for agriculture for the rest of the year. This leads to drought, and famously for Ethiopia: famine."

"What the Rwandans recognized is that the marshlands are far more valuable as a natural system providing water for energy than as farmland. This principle is the same for the remaining hillsides and ravines. What we are seeing here is very interesting because its a line between human activity and natural systems. And in human activity we have been able to value the productivity from agriculture and give it a monetary value, but in natural systems we haven't been able to value the trees, the biodiversity, the water that's absorbed into the biomass, and into the soils. And there is another vital service that the trees and plants provide: photosynthesis. Vegetation reduces the greenhouse effect by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 'Climate change is better withstood with trees. You know humans, no matter how intelligent we are, no matter how capable we are with all of our technologies, we are helpless in the face of climate change. We have not yet properly understood the miracles performed by trees.' "

"A measure of what restoring nature can do, has been shown here on China's Loess Plateau, where farmers have continued to prosper despite the worst drought in decades. Since the beginning of the project, the soil that nurtures their crops has been accumulating organic material from plants and animals. This holds moisture and contains carbon. What is interesting about this is that all these root materials, all this stuff, this is organic material. And this organic material is mixing together with the Loess, the soils here, and its making a living soil. This is where the moisture resides. Yesterday it rained and there is still moisture in the soil. This is where the nutrients are recycled so that each generation of life emerges here. And this is where the carbon is. What is interesting about this. They made this field. This is new. So they are helping to sequester carbon. Living soils like these contain on average three times the carbon as foliage above ground."

"It is actually by investing in our ecological infrastructure and ecosystems in expanding the ability of nature to sequester carbon that we have the greatest opportunity to do something and the wonderful thing is its not only carbon sequestration, we are also faced with ecosystems that will affect our food security, our water security, we're losing species at an unprecedented rate. So maintaining, restoring, protecting, expanding natural ecosystems has multiple benefits: immediate in terms of climate change but also fundamental to many of the services that we simply take for granted from nature." (Achim Steiner --- Executive Director United Nations Environmental Program)

"My hope is that the developed countries those most responsible for climate change will recognize the enormous potential for restoration. What we've seen in China, in Africa and around the world is that it is possible to restore large-scale damaged ecosystems. If we can transfer the capital, the technology and empower the local people to restore their own environment it will have enormous benefits. Restoration can sequester carbon. Reduce biodiversity loss. Mitigate against flooding, drought and famine. It can ensure food security for people who are now chronically hungry. Why don't we do this on a global scale?"

Watch documentary at link below