Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau

From John Dennis Liu here are the bare bones of what I have learned studying the Loess Plateau. There is more detail for those who crave knowledge.

John Dennis Liu

1. Functional ecosystems gave rise to life and are necessary for life to continue.

2. Ecosystem degradation has local, downstream (regional) and global impacts suggesting that we must rethink the way we see our relationship with the Earth. This is an essential part of globalization.

3. Human activity without ecological understanding leads to ecosystem collapse.

4. 4. Poverty and ecological destruction are interrelated. You must solve them together.

5. The collapse of ecosystem function is linked to the collapse of civilization.

6. It is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems and restore ecosystem function that has been lost over vast areas.

7. It is necessary to differentiate and designate ecological and economic land to ensure that there will be at least some land that is able to function ecologically.

8. In order to restore ecosystem viability it is necessary to address the root causes of the degradation and so all unsustainable agricultural practices must end.

9. In order for unsustainable agricultural practices to end, policies must reflect these principles, alternative livelihoods must be identified, training and investment must be provided to help transition the poorest toward sustainable behaviors. They cannot do this alone.

10. Land tenure ensuring uninterrupted access to agricultural land for those who live near subsistence agriculture is required or they will be forced to devastate common ecological lands to survive.

11. Governments must understand these lessons and their policies must reflect these principles.

12. Ecosystem function and the ecosystem benefits that accrue have not been valued by traditional economic systems and so those systems are false.

13. The survival of people who live in or near large degraded ecosystems and the survival of people who live in wealth far from these places in the developed world, are both dependent on restoring viability to large ecosystems that have been disrupted or destroyed by human activity.

14. Learning these lessons will ensure that future generations will enjoy rushing rivers, forests, wildlife and more efficient, productive farms, as well as living in peace and prosperity.

15. We need to understand what is at stake. History provides strong, compelling evidence that ignoring these lessons will lead to ecosystem collapse and the end of our civilization.

16. When we look toward the future do we see growing deserts, more people living lives of desperation and poverty, or do we see forests, rivers, healthy and wealthy people with a sustainable future? These are two different paradigms. When we achieve the second paradigm the entire dynamic changes. This is exactly what is needed now to address climate change, poverty, and ecosystem health. The lessons of the Loess Plateau help to illustrate a sustainable future for humanity and represent "EARTH’S HOPE".