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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GRASSLAND PRODUCTIVITY AND CARBON DYNAMICS: CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGE IN ATMOSPHERIC CO2, PRECIPITATION, AND PLANT SPECIES COMPOSITION, ...

Location: Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: The savory method can not green deserts or reverse climate change

Authors
item Briske, D -
item Bestelmeyer, Brandon
item Brown, J -
item Fuhlendorf, S -
item Polley, Wayne

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: July 19, 2013
Publication Date: October 2, 2013
Citation: Briske, D.D., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Brown, J.R., Fuhlendorf, S.D., Polley, H.W. 2013. The savory method can not green deserts or reverse climate change. Rangelands. 35(5):72-74.

Interpretive Summary: Mr. Allan Savory addressed one of the major environmental challenges of our time – rapidly increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and climate warming - in a video presentation entitled, "How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change" that was presented at the 2013 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference on February 27, 2013, in Long Beach, California. As members of the rangeland scientific community, we critique claims made in this presentation relative to available scientific information. We are particularly skeptical of two of Mr. Savory's major assertions. The first assertion is that humans have misunderstood the basic grassland – grazer relationships for centuries and that only he knows the true nature of this relationship. The second assertion is that use of intensive, concentrated livestock grazing, specific to the method that Mr. Savory developed, is the only viable solution to reverse desertification and climate change. We find Mr. Savory's major claims to be unfounded and express concern that they have the potential to undermine proven approaches to rangeland management and the reduction of greenhouses gas emissions responsible for climate warming.

Technical Abstract: Mr. Allan Savory addressed one of the major environmental challenges of our time – rapidly increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations and climate warming - in a video presentation entitled, "How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change" that was presented at the 2013 TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference on February 27, 2013, in Long Beach, California. As members of the rangeland scientific community, we critique claims made in this presentation relative to available scientific information. We are particularly skeptical of two of Mr. Savory's major assertions. The first assertion is that humans have misunderstood the basic grassland – grazer relationships for centuries and that only he knows the true nature of this relationship. The second assertion is that use of intensive, concentrated livestock grazing, specific to the method that Mr. Savory developed, can reduce atmospheric C concentrations to preindustrial levels. Only about 50% of the C emitted each year from human activities is 'stored' temporarily, mostly in oceans. Grazing lands have been shown to be very weak sinks for C. The assertion that humans can remove enough C to reverse the 30% increase in atmospheric C since Industrialization and can continue to remove an additional 50% of the C emitted annually by adjusting grazing intensity is a gross misrepresentation of carbon science. We find Mr. Savory's claims to be unfounded and express concern that they have the potential to undermine proven approaches to rangeland management and the reduction of greenhouses gas emissions.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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