The scars on our land

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

 

I read recently that if you added up all of the land in the world that has been cleared for crops it would add up to a piece of land roughly the size of South America.

The rolling pastures of the Belgian countryside
The rolling pastures of the Belgian countryside

As I sit, sweating, on a train from Brussels to Antwerp I look out the window at what I used to see as rolling green pastures. The flat expanse of bright green used to be enticing; I would always close my eyes and imagine how it would look from the back of a horse. I imagine a lot of landscapes that way, always asking myself, “How would it look from horseback? Do I have enough room to pick up a gallop?”

I used to love the sunflower fields or rows of strawberries and carrots. But that’s not what I see anymore. Now I see the ghosts of the forests that used to cover Europe and notice how small the plots of trees are now.

The rolling green hills no longer look warm and welcoming, but instead like reminders of the scars that we have made on this earth that are irreparable.

“Trading tropical forest for farmland is one of the most destructive things we do to the environment, and it is rarely done to benefit the 850 million people in the world who are still hungry. Most of the land cleared for agriculture in the tropics does not contribute much to the world’s food security but is instead used to produce cattle, soybeans for livestock, timber, and palm oil. Avoiding further deforestation must be a top priority.”

-Jonathan Foley

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