Declining Photosynthesis Threatens Human Life


For humans arguably the single most important process on the planet is photosynthesis. Without it humans could not survive. Photosynthesis is the source of all the world's energy. Yes that petrol you pour into the tank of your car and that coal that drives our power turbines it all came from photosynthesis millions of years ago. And of course the food you eat everyday comes from photosynthesis.

Aside from producing the planets food and energy photosynthesis performs a number of functions vital to human life. It fuels the small water cycle which is responsible for 40% of our rainfall and it is the planets air conditioner, cooling the planet down as billions of litres of water are transpired into the atmosphere every day. The Amazon River is massive but every day the Amazon's plants transpire more water into the atmosphere than flows down the river!

As photosynthesis is reduced down goes our food production, down goes our rainfall and up goes the planet's temperature. Simply put without sufficient photosynthesis the Earth cannot support human life.

11 000 years ago we started to farm and photosynthesis started to decrease. Now how, you may ask, does farming effect photosynthesis, surely farming is just redirecting photosynthesis to produce crops we want. The answer is no, and the problem is our agriculture, the way we farm. We cleared grasslands and ploughed fields, we slashed and burned forests to make more fields, we left fields bare fallow and we overgrazed massive areas and in the process we reduced the number of plants and even made deserts. In fact we did such a good job of it that over 11 000 years we reduced the plant biomass of the planet by a staggering 50%.

If we do not set about a process of maximising photosynthesis while minimising inputs we, the human race, will soon no longer be able to survive on the planet. The only way we can do this is if we produce our food in a way that is regenerative.

The importance of regenerative agriculture is highlighted in a major biodiversity study by the WWF. Without changing the way we produce food there is no turning round of the current downward trend, we have to have both conservation areas and produce food in a way that is friendly to planet in order to stop the downward spiral.

Our impact has been and continues to be immense, we can't just expect the planet to fix our destruction of the last 11 000 years we have to help it regenerate.

The image below shows the outcomes of three different strategies - Business as usual, Increased Conservation, and Increased Conservation coupled with Regenerative Farming and Living