Friday, November 24, 2017

Sustainability and the long view

In part because we move around a lot in our society, we are all affected by “ecological amnesia.” When we move to a new place, we assume what we see is the baseline, that it was always like that, and then get huffy when we see things change (like a new housing development.) But we tend to be blind to how that ecosystem has already been disrupted. For example, before I interviewed Forest Service employees, I didn’t realize that the Verde Valley used to have far more grasslands and that the rivers spread over a much larger territory. But grazing led to more trees (that the cattle couldn’t eat) and rivers have gotten channelized through development and erosion.

So it can be helpful at times to look back in time and see how things have changed. This scientific paper was just updated after 25 years. We try to avoid doom and gloom in this blog because it tends to drive people to despair. But we don’t believe in putting our heads in the sand either. Periodically we need to take a clear-eyed look at where we are.

Fortunately on page three, column one, this article also lists things we can do to turn things around, things like:

  • Creating protected reserves
  • Restoring native plants
  • Eating a plant-based diet and reducing food waste
  • Increasing nature-based education
  • Making family planning services available to all

You can make a difference in your own personal life for all these actions. You can donate to organizations that are establishing reserves or offering family planning, you can plant native plants in your yard, you can eat your fruits and veggies, you can take kids into nature. You are not a helpless witness to humanity’s mistakes. You are a part of the solution.

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