I just read a great article in the February 2011 issue of Earth First! Journal. It is by Lierre Keith and it is called "It takes a Village to Raise a Prairie."
Unfortunately the Journal does not seem to have a copy of this article up at their web site. Lierre's web site seems almost non-functional. But wait, a search reveals that it can be read here: It Takes a Village to Raise a Prairie. That is at Mother Earth News.
Lierre calls for whole villages of eco-friendly people to take over the prairie regions. She claims that "Grass is so good at building soil that repairing 75 percent fo the planet's rangelands would bring atmospheric CO2 to under 330 ppm in 15 years or less." Remarkable, if true.
This made me think of the importance of sequencing in the processes of creating complex things, and of dismantling them. Pick the wrong sequence for a project and the project may never get done.
I was looking at a giant sequoia (not a coast redwood, though some are nearby) in my back yard yesterday, wondering how much carbon is holds. When I arrived here is was about 1 yard in diameter; now it is approaching 2 yards in diameter. Does that make up for all the driving, using fossil fuel, my family does, living at such a remote place? I don't know.
Can 7 billion people live on this planet without destroying it? I think not. But dismantling the situation in a humane manner is no easy task. Sure there are ways to discourage reproduction, but the political will is not there, not yet. As Warren Buffet said, (but not about population) we have a global "political system that rewards legislators with reelection if their actions appear to produce short-term benefits even though their ultimate imprint will be to compound long-term pain."