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Our single largest use of land

A new essay in our Future of Food series

Pasture expansion has been one of the most significant challenges the world has faced for conserving biodiversity and mitigating climate change. It's been a major driver of deforestation in the Amazon and degradation of many of the world’s natural grasslands, releasing vast amounts of carbon stored in soils and plants into the atmosphere.

The problem has been getting worse for centuries. Since the 1700s, an area nearly the size of North America has been converted to pasture. But in the last 20 years, something remarkable has occurred, something few predicted: the amount of land devoted to grazing animals to produce meat and milk has begun to shrink across the world.

A new essay from Dan Blaustein-Rejto explains why, how, and ways to ensure the downward trend continues.

Meeting demand without the footprint >>>

Rather watch than read? A one-minute explainer on pasture's rise and decline:

Dan Blaustein-Rejto on the overlooked pasture problem
Pasture, the land that cattle and other ruminants graze, should be central to any vision for the future of food. Popular discourse often focuses on how livestock are produced in confined animal feeding operations (or CAFOs) and on their greenhouse gas footprint. But what is too often missed is a discussion on land use: at least one in four acres of the world’s habitable land is used for grazing animals. Finding ways to shrink this area is imperative to reducing agriculture’s climate and biodiversity impacts. That’s why I’m excited to share Achieving Peak Pasture, a new addition to our Future of Food series, based on our Summer 2019 report.
Our Season 3 Finale
Tune in to the Breakthrough Dialogues podcast
We’re closing Season Three of the Breakthrough Dialogues with a lofty vision: what would it mean to leave half of the earth for nature? Today’s guest, Carly Vynne Baker, is a chief advocate of the Nature Needs Half network who manages to break down a huge idea into the gritty logistics. What are the tradeoffs between conservation and food production? How do we balance a top-down vision with bottom-up efforts? And what kind of human management will the protected Half require?

We can’t imagine a better way to wrap up our 30th episode than big-picture dreams of practical land protection. As always, let us know what you’re thinking (we’re @TheBTI on Twitter) and who you hope to hear in season four.
Half for us, half for nature >>>
📚This is what we're reading this week 📚
Toward a culinary ethos for the twenty-first century from historian (and Breakthrough Paradigm Award winner) Rachel Laudan: who's included at the table; who cooks; who farms?

Should the government subsidize nuclear power? Alex Trembath squares off in the Wall Street Journal against Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group.

Economist Mariana Mazzucato is trying to change something fundamental: the way society thinks about economic value. Her focus? Not capitalism itself, but its premises.
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