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Mankind and Civilization at Another Crossroad: In Balance with Nature - A Biological Myth

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Abstract

Argues against the banning of DDT and other insecticides on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence of harmful side-effects and that the suggested alternative of biological control" is based upon a misplaced reliance on the balance of nature." An integrated approach to insect control is necessary if man's food supply is to be maintained at its present level. (AL)

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... Improving the efficiency of land use in agricultural production systems by increasing the crop production per unit of cultivated land is one strategy to address this land use trade-off. It is often referred to as the Borlaug hypothesis, according to which achieving higher yields results in agricultural land being saved and thus freed up for other uses [10,11]. In particular, the resulting potential for biodiversity conservation is controversially discussed within the debate on land-sparing vs. land-sharing [12][13][14][15][16][17], as there is also clear evidence of negative effects of agricultural intensification on biodiversity and ecosystems, such as freshwater depletion, soil erosion, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, habitat homogenization or the loss of habitat availability for wild species [18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]. ...
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The pressure on land resources continuously increases not only with the rising demand for agricultural commodities, but also with the growing need for action on global challenges, such as biodiversity loss or climate change, where land plays a crucial role. Land saving as a strategy, where agricultural productivity is increased to allow a reduction of required crop-land while sustaining production volumes and meeting demand, could address this trade-off. With our interdisciplinary model-based study, we globally assess regional potentials of land saving and analyze resulting effects on agricultural production, prices and trade. Thereby, different land saving strategies are investigated that (1) minimize required crop-land (2) minimize spatial marginalization induced by land saving and (3) maximize the attainable profit. We find that current cropland requirements could be reduced between 37% and 48%, depending on the applied land saving strategy. The generally more efficient use of land would cause crop prices to fall in all regions, but also trigger an increase in global agricultural production of 2.8%. While largest land saving potentials occur in regions with high yield gaps, the impacts on prices and production are strongest in highly populated regions with already high pressure on land. Global crop prices and trade affect regional impacts of land saving on agricultural markets and can displace effects to spatially distant regions. Our results point out the importance of investigating the potentials and effects of land saving in the context of global markets within an integrative, global framework. The resulting land saving potentials can moreover reframe debates on global potentials for afforestation and carbon sequestration, as well as on how to reconcile agricultural production and biodiversity conservation and thus contribute to approaching central goals of the 21st century, addressed for example in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement or the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. PLOS ONE PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.
... Com isso, o emprego de tecnologia para diminuir a pressão por recurso natural pode ter um efeito indesejado e induzir seu esgotamento após um período de uso (Alcott, 2005). (Borlaug, 1972). Essa hipótese é ligada ao conceito de land sparing. ...
Thesis
O processo de ocupação humana no território brasileiro tem provocado, há séculos, profundas alterações no meio ambiente. Desde os primeiros habitantes, a natureza tem sofrido alguma mudança no seu formato, em algum grau de escala. Se os povos tradicionais nativos possuem uma preocupação em conciliar a relação homem-meio ambiente, a invasão europeia inverteu toda essa lógica. Dos processos primitivos até o uso da mecanização moderna, o Brasil pós-1500 mostrou a força humana sobre a natureza e seus consequentes impactos. Apesar dos esforços maiores ou menores, das denúncias propaladas desde do período colonial, avança-se a destruição de ecossistemas de suma importância local e global. Diante desse cenário, o país possui biomas com enorme perigo de perdas irreversíveis se nada for feito. Neste contexto, esta tese tem como objetivo entender essas transformações com olhares histórico, geográfico e econômico, culminando numa análise quantitativa do uso da terra de 2004 a 2019 focada nos municípios dos dois principais biomas brasileiros ameaçados, Cerrado e Amazônia. Por meio de diferentes instrumentos da econometria espacial cujos princípios são as primeiras leis da Geografia, se pretende identificar os fatores que modificaram o uso da terra no período citado e propor medidas para atenuar o impacto do principal vetor de desmatamento direto nos biomas citados: a pecuária. Por meio dessa análise, pretende-se avaliar como a intensificação da bovinocultura de corte altera as emissões, a configuração do uso da terra, pode auxiliar no cumprimento da Lei de Proteção da Vegetação Nativa e gerar ganhos econômicos dentro de uma área com mais de 1.700 municípios. O objetivo final é determinar qual a melhor política de intensificação da atividade de pecuária de corte considerando o trade-off meio ambiente e economia. A escolha permitirá que o país consiga oferecer aos consumidores domésticos e internacionais uma atividade mais sustentável com minimização do impacto ambiental gerado e receitas majoradas. Com isso, a tese mostra que as alterações no uso da terra em quatro diferentes classes – agricultura, pecuária, floresta e outros usos – são fenômenos locais cujo somatório tem um impacto global relevante. Os resultados reforçam a importância de políticas públicas ambientais e agrícolas e observarem as diferenças entre os municípios em sua formulação e implementação. Há, para o Brasil, um imenso potencial tanto de ampliar a área florestal com a intensificação e de restaurar grandes áreas liberadas com o incremento do sistema produtivo de carne bovina. Assim, o país tem nas suas mãos uma chance ímpar de ter uma pecuária sustentável econômica e ambientalmente com uma política governamental que considere a diversidade local. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- The process of human occupation in Brazilian territory has caused profound changes in the environment for centuries. Since the first inhabitants, nature has undergone some change in its shape, to some degree of scale. If native traditional peoples have a concern to reconcile the man-environment relationship, the European invasion has reversed all this logic. From primitive processes to the use of modern mechanization, post-1500 Brazil showed human strength under nature and its consequent impacts. Despite the major or minor efforts, the denunciations proposed since the colonial period, the destruction of ecosystems of great local and global importance is advanced. Given this scenario, the country has biomes with enormous danger of irreversible losses if nothing is done. In this context, this thesis aims to understand these transformations in historical, geographical, and economic views, culminating in a quantitative analysis of land use from 2004 to 2019 focused on the municipalities of the two main threatened Brazilian biomes, Cerrado and Amazon. Through different instruments of spatial econometrics whose principles are the first laws of geography, it is intended to identify the factors that modified land use in the period mentioned and propose measures to mitigate the impact of the main vector of direct deforestation in the biomes mentioned: livestock. Through this analysis, it is intended to evaluate how the intensification of beef cattle culture alters emissions, the configuration of land use, can assist in complying with the Native Vegetation Protection Law and generates economic gains within an area with more than 1,700 municipalities. The goal is to determine the best policy of intensification of beef livestock activity considering the trade-off environment and economy. The choice will allow the country to be able to offer domestic and international consumers a more sustainable activity with minimization of the environmental impact generated and increased revenues. Considering all these facts, the thesis shows that changes in land use in four different classes – agriculture, livestock, forest, and other uses – are local phenomena whose sum has a relevant global impact. The results reinforce the importance of environmental and agricultural public policies and the observer in the differences between the municipalities in their formulation and implementation. For Brazil, there is an immense potential for both expanding the forest area with intensification and restoring large areas released with the increase of the beef production system. The country has in its hands a unique chance to have a sustainable livestock economically and environmentally with a government policy that considers local diversity.
... Land sparing is sometimes conflated with the Borlaug hypothesis [9,23,[28][29][30], attributed to plant scientist Norman Borlaug [31]. Borlaug [32] wrote "that by producing more food per unit of cultivated area more land would be available for other uses, including recreation and wildlife." Land sparing thus refers to a situation where food is produced using higher yields on a smaller area and native vegetation is conserved, while the Borlaug hypothesis posits one way of achieving that outcome: that yield increases will result in what has been termed "passive" land sparing [33]. ...
Article
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The land sparing-sharing model provides a powerful heuristic and analytical framework for understanding the potential of agricultural landscapes to support wild species. However, its conceptual and analytical strengths and limitations remain widely contested or misunderstood. Here, I review what inferences can and cannot be derived from the framework, and discuss eight specific points of contention and confusion. The land sparing-sharing framework is underpinned by an ethic that seeks to minimise harm to non-human species. It is used to quantify how good farmland is for different species, in relation to appropriate reference land uses, and at what opportunity cost. The results of empirical studies that have used the model indicate that most species will have larger populations if food is produced on as small an area as possible, while sparing as large an area of native vegetation as possible. The potential benefits of land sharing or intermediate strategies for wild species are more limited. I review disagreements about the scope of analysis (food production cf. food security), the value of high-yield farmland for wildlife, the (ir)relevance of the Borlaug hypothesis, scale and heterogeneity, fostering human connections to nature, the prospects for land sparing in heavily-modified landscapes, the role of land sparing in improving connectivity, and the political implications of the model. Interpreted alongside insights from social, political and economic studies, the model can help us to understand how decisions about land-use will affect the persistence of wild species populations into the future.
... (Borlaug, 1972a: 41) This and other publications along similar lines (Borlaug, 1971a(Borlaug, , 1972b(Borlaug, , 1974 provoked considerable controversy (Bennett, 1972;Peakall and Philogene, 1972;Robinson et al., 1972), and illustrate Borlaug's willingness to operate outside the traditional comfort zone of most agronomists. Another example of his readiness to publicly promote his deeply held beliefs, even at the cost of controversy, is his oft-repeated suggestion that the enhancement of agricultural productivity on good quality land should be seen as a land and nature conservation strategy in that it reduces the pressure on forest and marginal lands (Borlaug, 1972a;Borlaug, 2007). This has been called by some the 'Borlaug Hypothesis' (Angelsen and Kaimowitz, 2001;Pearce, 2011), and opened Borlaug to the charge of being an apologist for industrial agriculture and corporate agri-business interests (Mwale, 2006). ...
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