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Eliminating Non-Sustainability/
Regenerating the Environment

Preferred State:
Sustainable environmental systems for 100% of humanity; topsoil conserved and regenerated

Problem State:
26 billion tons of topsoil eroded per year

Strategy 10: Preserving Cropland

The cropland fertilization and sustainable agriculture program (Strategies 1B and 1C), for example, must be supported by a project to conserve topsoil and the prevention of desertification throughout the world. By converting the one-tenth of the world's most vulnerable cropland (128 million hectares) that is simultaneously most susceptible to erosion, the location of the most severe erosion, and the land that is no longer able to sustain economically viable agriculture, to pasture or woodland- and conserving and regenerating the topsoil on the remaining lands through sustainable farming techniques-the non-sustainable loss of topsoil and the advance of the deserts can be virtually halted.(108)

The conversion of vulnerable lands to non-erosion prone uses and the teaching of sustainable farming methods that conserve topsoil on remaining croplands can be accomplished through a combination of government regulation and economic incentive programs that remove the most vulnerable lands from crop production, and by farmer education through vastly expanded in-country extension services that teach/demonstrate sustainable agriculture and soil management techniques. Economic programs such as the making of credit available to small scale farmers and women food producers would help in the transition. Loss of food production on marginally arable lands would be outweighed by the markedly increased productivity of remaining lands due to the cropland fertilization program. As these croplands are improved to maintain the soil and moisture-retaining organic content that they require to flourish, farming would become more stable and prosperous with the destabilizing influences of drought and desertification lessened. Farmers on endangered lands who are displaced from agriculture production could be trained and employed as tree planters (see below, Strategy 11) or as land preservation and regeneration specialists.

Costs/Benefits

The cost for such a program of topsoil protection would average about $24 billion per year for ten years-$16 billion would be spent on converting vulnerable lands and $8 billion on conserving topsoil on the remaining lands.(109) This is about $3 billion less than the current $27 billion per year cost of farmland loss on US farms(110) and about 3% of the world's total annual military expenditures. It is also about half the amount spent by the US and European governments on price subsidies to their farmers and about half what is spent in subsidies to the fishing industry around the world by governments.(111)

Benefits include soil retention and sustained or increased crop production, healthier air due to fewer dust particles and airborne diseases, more stable settlements for farming communities (which will lessen migratory pressures on cities), clearer and healthier river systems which would carry less run-off and provide better drinking water. Long-term benefits include the continuing presence of a healthy soil system and ecosystem to support the world's population.

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What the World Wants Chart

Eliminate Starvation and Malnutrition: $19 billion Eliminate Starvation & Malnutrition: $19 billion Provide Health Care and AIDS Control: $21 billion Provide Health Care and AIDS Control: $21 billion Provide Shelter: $21 billion Provide Shelter: $21 billion Provide Clean, Safe Water: $10 billion Elliminate Illiteracy: $5 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Energy Efficiency: $33 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Energy Efficiency: $33 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Energy Efficiency: $33 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Renewable Energy: $17 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Renewable Energy: $17 billion Provide Clean, Safe Energy--Renewable Energy: $17 billion Retire Developing Nations Debt: $30 billion Stabilize Population: $10.5 billion Stabilize Population: $10.5 billion Prevent Soil Erosion: $24 billion Prevent Soil Erosion: $24 billion Stop Deforestation: $7 billion Stop Deforestation: $7 billion Stop Ozone Depletion: $5 billion Prevent Acid Rain: $8 billion Prevent Global Warming: $8 billion Prevent Global Warming: $8 billion Prevent Global Warming: $8 billion Remove Landmines: $2 billion Refugee Relief: $5 billion Refugee Relief: $5 billion Eliminate Nuclear Weapons: $7 billion Eliminate Nuclear Weapons: $7 billion Eliminate Nuclear Weapons: $7 billion Build Democracy: $2 billion
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