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Steppes form one of the largest biomes. Drastic changes in steppe ecology, land use and livelihoods came with the emergence, and again with the collapse, of communist states. Excessive ploughing and vast influx of people into the steppe zone led to a strong decline in nomadic pastoralism in the Soviet Union and China and in severely degraded steppe ecosystems. In Mongolia nomadic pastoralism persisted, but steppes degraded because of strongly increased livestock loads. After the Soviet collapse steppes regenerated on huge tracts of fallow land. Presently, new, restorative steppe land management schemes are applied. On top of all these changes come strong effects of climate change in the northern part of the steppe zone. This book gives an up-to-date overview of changes in ecology, climate and use of the entire Eurasian steppe area and their effects on livelihoods of steppe people. It integrates knowledge that so far was available only in a spectrum of locally used languages.
From its inception, the U.S. Department of the Interior has been charged with a conflicting mission. One set of statutes demands that the department must develop America's lands, that it get our trees, water, oil, and minerals out into the marketplace. Yet an opposing set of laws orders us to conserve these same resources, to preserve them for the long term and to consider the noncommodity values of our public landscape. That dichotomy, between rapid exploitation and long-term protection, demands what I see as the most significant policy departure of my tenure in office: the use of science-interdisciplinary science-as the primary basis for land management decisions. For more than a century, that has not been the case. Instead, we have managed this dichotomy by compartmentalizing the American landscape. Congress and my predecessors handled resource conflicts by drawing enclosures: "We'll create a national park here," they said, "and we'll put a wildlife refuge over there." Simple enough, as far as protection goes. And outside those protected areas, the message was equally simplistic: "Y'all come and get it. Have at it." The nature and the pace of the resource extraction was not at issue; if you could find it, it was yours.
This book describes the vision of a "Green Revolution" proposed by Peter Maurin, co-founder with Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker Movement. Peter's vision may be described as a new lay ecological monasticism for individuals and families. His program included three interrelated projects: 1) creation of rural ecovillages pursuing prayer, study, and agriculture; 2) creation of urban houses of hospitality to welcome the marginalized poor; and 3) ecological universities in which workers would become scholars and scholars would become workers. Peter saw the entire program as part of the search for a post-capitalist and post-Marxist new civilization, yet one rooted in ancient human spiritual, social, and ecological traditions.
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