Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Towards a healthy environment yard by yard in a time of Climate Change

One of the assumptions that are used in Climate Change studies is that our present environment is healthy and should be used as a baseline for preserving into the future.

My guess is that this assumption is wrong and that our present environment is not healthy because of development in the New World since the arrival of the Europeans, where massive alterations to our environment—the destruction of wetlands, pollution, massive loss of biodiversity, and many more environmental issues—have put our environment in extreme stress.

One way to try and restore the abundance, resiliency, and healthiness of our present environment is to try—yard by yard—to restore our environment to a time before massive development. Of course, this will be impossible to achieve completely. But our environment 500 years ago is a more accurate example of a healthy environment than the present environment, which is challenged enough without the specter of Climate Change.

We really need a longer scope of our environmental past before we can project healthy environmental solutions for our future.

Nature knew what it was doing for four billion years. Human development in the past 500 years was not done so with environmental health in mind.

Here’s an example of how yard-by-yard might happen:

In Midwest, Bringing Back Native Prairies Yard by Yard Across the U.S. Midwest, homeowners are restoring their yards and former farmland to the native prairie that existed in pre-settlement days. The benefits can be substantial — maintenance that uses less water and no fertilizer, and an ecosystem that supports wildflowers and wildlife. David Read is a big guy, six-foot-two, but the grass behind him inches above the crown of his khaki fisherman’s hat. He gestures off toward his house across a swishing, dancing expanse of stems, leaves, and early-autumn wildflowers, and smiles. “We wanted to sit on our back porch and watch grass swaying in the wind,” he says. Which is exactly what it’s doing this September day, finally. It wasn’t always so. In the 1990s when he and his wife Alisande bought this property, 38 acres in exurban Dexter, Michigan, it was fallow farmland slowly succumbing to invasive shrubs. In 2003, after retiring, they set about restoring 11 acres of it to native prairie.  (December 24, 2012) Yale 360

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