An Eco-sustainable World
Live EnvironmentPlanet Agriculture

We cultivate biodiversity

We cultivate biodiversity

Human interference on ecosystems is among the greatest concerns of our times, so much so that some countries, such as China, have been preparing programs to limit births for some time while in others, such as Italy, between their reduction and emigration the growth trend is negative.
However, the reality of things is very different and there is a way that would allow us not to limit the world population and, above all, not to interfere with the environment.
All this is linked to a change in social and economic systems and in our relationship with nature.
Much of our lifestyles, our way of producing goods and services is in total discord with the laws of nature.
For example, in the agricultural sector, we produce food and other services in an inefficient manner, both energetically and in terms of system performance, with an impact on ecological systems unparalleled since humanity began to domesticate species through agriculture.
Suffice it to say that in just over half a century the collapse of biodiversity (perfectly documented by scientific research) has taken on, to say the least, horrifying dimensions.
Without going into the specifics of the data, which could fill an entire large library, just for the class of birds, according to BirdLife International, the Ornithological Society of the Czech Republic and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), from In 1980, in Europe, intensive agriculture and other human activities caused the disappearance of between 600 and 900 million specimens of the most common bird species: practically one in six, with a large decrease in their intake, especially of phosphates and nitrates, compounds fundamental for natural and agricultural fertility, as better verified by another study by the Departamento de edafoloxía e química agrícola of the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.
As regards insects, other fundamental organisms in ecosystem balance, the journal Science attempted to quantify the decline by calculating a summary of the results of various scientific studies already concluded: the result, for some monitored species, was a collapse of 45 percent hundred.
Data on other living organisms, such as amphibians, reptiles, wildlife, plant species, etc. they all go in the same direction.
We are facing a true mass extinction without governments (and political as well as popular consciousness) having fully understood the gravity of this phenomenon.
Another fact that should make us reflect a lot is that of Agricultural Biodiversity, to which the state of health of agricultural ecosystems and also that of human health is linked.
The alarming fact (FAO) is that, although around 6000 species of cultivable plants are known, those actually used in food production are around 200, and 66% of global agricultural production is made up of only nine species (sugar cane, rice , corn, wheat, potato, soybean, oil palm fruit, sugar beet, cassava). It is no different for animal proteins: if there are around forty species mainly bred, there are few that we rely on for meat, milk and eggs.
And so, under this pressure, the UN reports that, every year, these effects, also linked to climate change, force around 20 million people to flee. Their right to be protected and helped, however, is very limited. It is therefore a social crisis that especially affects those who contribute least to the causes of climate change.
Faced with this scenario, all of humanity has only one solution: rewrite its way of being on the planet, of doing politics and of legislating.
Yet today there exist (remaining in the agricultural field) much more efficient methods for producing food and other ecosystem services, much more productive (also supported by extensive scientific research and field trials) and which would allow the coexistence on our planet of a population well over 10 billion people.
These principles are based, among other aspects, on increasing the biodiversity of agricultural systems and the ability of farmers to know how to “cultivate” biodiversity.
In this sense, it is not just a question of cultivating more species and breeds on one’s farms but of learning about a whole series of techniques through which both the topsoil and the subsoil are cultivated, protecting the respective biodiversity and promoting the global fertility of the systems.
The other fact which, in fact, makes us worry even more (in case it were ever needed) is that of the loss of soil fertility with increasingly evident desertification processes not only in the countries of the tropical and subtropical areas but, now, even in the countries of the north of the world.
Yet in intact natural habitats (increasingly rare), nature, through its codes and laws, maintains production efficiency (primary productivity) and biodiversity indices perfectly high.
The issue, therefore, lies entirely in the departure of cultivation techniques, of so-called specialized agriculture, from the “cultivation” principles of natural systems.
The former involve crop specialization, the use of external inputs, synthetic regulatory products, etc. their system for obtaining biomass (for food or energy use); the latter make maximum biodiversity, the internal regulation of ecosystem balances, and useful biocoenoses, their system for obtaining biomass.
Between the two systems, energy efficiency is significantly in favor of natural systems.
This assumption finds its foundations in the laws of thermodynamics (which no economy or politics can go against).
These laws tell us that Dissipative Systems, such as ecosystems (natural or artificial – i.e. agricultural ones) have greater efficiency the more different they are.
But to cultivate biodiversity, a new class of farmers, technicians, technical assistance and dedicated policies is needed who, although timidly present in the political debate or in the open field, have yet to find “fertile ground” on which to develop.
Agroecology is the science that fully interprets all of this but, unfortunately, it is still largely unknown, little studied, less applied and even less present in the political consciousness and of many farmers, so much so that one of the first results of the movements and of farmers’ demonstrations in Europe was to significantly limit the Green Deal and to almost abort the Farm to Fork Strategy, to the great satisfaction of chemical and genetic multinationals.
As if to say that to give oxygen to a sick person we close or limit the pressure of the cylinder.
This question therefore prefigures a new ecological consciousness that is neither environmentalist (in the negative sense of the term) nor simply theoretical.
We need new training, a new approach to the use of the earth and its rules, to the management of living beings.
When we grow a plant, raise an animal, weed a field, eliminate insects, birds, amphibians, etc., we arrogate to ourselves the right not to live, because outside the rules of Nature there is neither life nor time for history.
This is not the poetic vision of a utopian environmentalism but the certain and incontrovertible report of Science which finds it very difficult to enter social and political consciences and knowledge, such is the deafening noise that the bad information of large economic interests makes on public opinion (the so-called Greenwashing).
To escape it we have only one remedy; that of starting to cultivate biodiversity, recovering the species that we are guiltily losing, starting from small surfaces to understand the meaning and the advantages that all this brings to our knowledge and our consciences.

Guido Bissanti

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