Posted on August 5, 2014
It doesn’t matter how often miracles are disproved; our willingness to believe in them remains undiminished. Miracle cures, miracle crops, miracle fuels, miracle financial instruments, miracle profits: the continued enthusiasm for these claims reflects the triumph of hope over experience.
Here’s another one: a miracle technique that allows us to reconcile our insatiable demand for meat with the need to protect the living planet. Better still, it proposes, eating meat could actually save the biosphere. A TED talk which makes this claim has been viewed 2.6m times.
Over the weekend in London, the author of this talk, Allan Savory, convened an international conference, in which a long list of speakers lined up to insist that his methods have been vindicated.
I was intrigued by his TED talk, in which he screened astonishing before-and-after pictures purporting to show the transformative impacts of his technique. Savory maintained that without grazing by livestock, grasslands turn to desert. He claimed that he had reversed desertification by raising the number of cattle and goats by 400%, grazing them intensively for short bursts in small paddocks and then moving them on.