In The Land Grabbers, the first book to expose the global hunger for land acquisition, author Fred Pearce details how a spike in world food prices led to large-scale land investment around the globe. “Speculators started moving on the idea of buying up land, because many commodities require land to grow, so it looks like a good deal,” he says.
But Pearce isn’t just concerned with the investors. He wants to bring attention to the people on the ground. “What we forget is the huge knowledge of the small people on the planet. I meet African farmers who really understand their land better than any foreign experts,” he says, emphasizing that this knowledge is the key to saving all of the planet’s resources. “We have romanticized poor people, but there’s a lot of expertise and knowledge out there that people in universities don’t have.”
Pearce’s writing covers the spectrum of environmental issues, from tropical deforestation to the damming of rivers. He thinks that the coming problems are something that humans can manage, but it’s going to take some work. “We’ve got to be a lot smarter about how we run this planet, because we’re now the biggest player,” he says, adding that the biggest challenge is how we manage water, and that we “need to treat it like the limited resource that it is.”