Let’s imagine how we’d plan land usage for the future. First, we’d set three simple land usages types; urban, agricultural and natural. Second, we assume we could readily change land usage type between the three, though each change requires energy. Third, let’s acknowledge that the Earth’s land surface is finite, so summing these three always results in 100%. With this, we can plan the future.
But before we plan for the future, let’s quickly consider the past. For around ten thousand years, we transformed natural forests and plains into croplands and houses. Effectively, we’ve reduced the amount of natural land cover to less than half of its original amount. And we continue this reduction. So, knowing this, let’s plan.
Assume a ‘business-as-usual’ approach where we continue to transfer the natural land to agricultural usage. With this, we can feed everyone. But, the reduction of natural land surface obviously means an equivalent reduction in nature, in wildlife. If we continue as usual, then do you foresee the eventual loss of all natural land?
Or, we can choose an approach to sustain the current ratios of land usage. But how do we accommodate the expected 2-4 billion additional people in the same urban area as today and with the same agricultural area as today?
Or, we can plan to increase the natural land surface area by re-wilding. But as the urban land area is so small, we could only effectively do this by decreasing the agricultural land usage. How do we feed a burgeoning population with a reduced agricultural area?
Some planners do have a vision. They aim to protect 30% of the land’s surface for nature. Perhaps this means that 30% of the wildlife from ten thousand years ago will survive. What do you think are optimal ratios? What are your plans for the future? And how are you getting them enacted? Is there enough energy available to achieve your plans?