When you look at the state of our environment it’s clear that things are going to have to change, though it’s not clear whether it’ll be voluntarily or out of necessity. What will help define that answer will be the actions that we decide to take as a society. One thing we can do to help our situation will be to incorporate Integrated Pest Management into our practices, whether in gardening or in agriculture, so that the techniques and education around it can become widespread. It’s going to take an effort on all our behalves because it won’t be easy due to the various factors in play that could interfere with the adoption of IPM.
One said factor is the belief that many farmers have that “the only good bug is a dead bug.” At its core, this statement goes against everything that IPM stands for. Integrated Pest Management is all about seeing nature as an ecosystem rather than just a tool for our survival. It requires an understanding of how plants interact with their environment and how that relationship can be affected and have negative or positive consequences. It requires monitoring in order to understand the ecosystem that you are interacting with, as everyone has different factors that will affect it. The soil is different, the climate is different, and therefore the plants and animals that thrive in that environment are different. For this reason, the type of management for pests will be different, which requires a lot of monitoring in order to understand the proper approach for each individual circumstance. First and foremost, this means those farmers who believe that there are no good bugs will have to go through a perspective change. Maybe equally as difficult, they will have to invest in education and experimentation in order to get an understanding of how to incorporate IPM into their agricultural practices. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury or the resources to invest in either of those two. For some farmers, experimentation can lead to an unsuccessful season, which could mean the loss of their farm. Agriculture is a cutthroat business, and ironically, those who help feed our society many times don’t have enough to feed their own families.
When you turn on the tv and watch the news, you’re quickly bombarded with bad news about climate change destroying the world as we know it and billions of people facing potential food and water shortages. It’s daunting, and it’s tough to assess where the data ends and sensationalism takes over, making it even more difficult to do something about the situation. It’s easy to feel insignificant when looking at the scale of the problem, which in turn leads to a lot of people feeling like they can’t contribute to finding a solution. This isn’t the case. There are opportunities to take control of your life, and in turn have a positive effect on the environment as well as your local community. One of these opportunities comes in the form of Urban Farming, and it’s starting to gain traction.
An urban farm is “a part of a local food system where food is cultivated, produced and marketed to consumers within that urban area.” These farms can take a variety of forms, including non-profit gardens and for-profit businesses, which provide jobs, job training, health education, as well as contributing to better nutrition and health for the community by providing locally grown, fresh produce. In addition, these urban farms can be used to help revitalize any abandoned or underutilized urban area and remediate the soil in brownfields. This remediation tackles the problem of contaminated land that may have negative consequences on our ground water and increases the amount of usable, fertile land.
The 1920’s were a time of massive expansion for Los Angeles, with the population growing from 102,000 in 1900, to 577,000 in 1920, and over 1.2 million in 1929. This growth was incredible, but it’s difficult for a city to be able to accomodate so many new citizens in such a short amount of time. Infrastructure had to be laid down, utility lines were set in place, and airports were being created, but this construction was coming at a cost of destroying the natural beauty that California was known for. Therefore, a Citizen’s Committee was created with the sole purpose of commissioning a plan for the future of Los Angeles, and they hired Olmsted and Bartholomew to create such report. The result was Parks, Playgrounds, and Beaches for the Los Angeles Region, a 178-page comprehensive study of Los Angeles whose “immediate purpose is to show why more parks and other means of recreation are now urgently needed; to suggest the most effective ways of meeting this need; and to point out the evils that will follow further delay in adopting and executing a sound and comprehensive policy”(P.83).
Unfortunately, the plan was never set in place. Many would look at the time of publishing of this report (1927) and state that it was a victim of bad timing as the Great Depression was right around the corner, and citizens were more concerned with how they were to feed their families rather than focusing on the need for parks and beaches. The truth is it came down to a fear of losing power by the members of the Chamber of Commerce, as the report called for the creation of a “regional park district” (p.128). “The planned park board… simply scared the Chamber members, many of whom clearly feared that the new body would exert powers over and above the Chamber itself” (p.39). The lack of support by the Chamber of Commerce sealed its fate before it even had a chance to go before the citizens of Los Angeles, and along with it went the hopes of becoming “the world’s dream of the City Beautiful”(p.12).
It is crucial that we incorporate sustainability into our societies to ensure that we can continue to develop and thrive without creating extensive harm, both to the planet and to our communities. Yet, sustainability continues to be something that is not fully understood by many and ends up falling in line with being a trend rather than an entire mindset change. To create a lasting impact, there not only needs to be action taken by companies and citizens alike, but there also needs to be education put in place that allows the citizens to truly understand what it means to be sustainable, and what actions will actually have an impact versus which are being done simply as a means to appear more “eco-friendly”.
The idea of sustainability that we most often refer to is the “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” In other words, the focus is on how we can minimize the amount of resources we consume or the amount of damage that we produce so as to not interfere with the viability of future generations. This has caused us to focus more on reduction, especially of greenhouse gasses and carbon emissions, yet this emphasis has also provided companies, as well as citizens, with the ability to mitigate their responsibility thanks to carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are meant to be a way of neutralizing your carbon footprint by allowing you to fund environment-oriented projects that are focused on reducing greenhouse gasses, protecting forests, promoting renewable energy, and many more. The problem is that now you don’t necessarily have to reduce any of your own carbon footprint or live a more sustainable lifestyle whatsoever as long as you purchase enough carbon offsets to make you seem more “eco-friendly”, because the reality is that they haven’t been proven to make much of a difference when it comes to climate change, and many carbon offsets have been found to be scams. Continue reading “Sustainability: Rethinking Our Connection With Nature and How We Go About Affecting It”→
Industrial hemp is a crop that has the potential to lower the environmental impacts of textile production, empower small-scale farmers and create jobs in a wide variety of industries. Two non-profit groups, Fibershed and The Growing Warriors Project, are working to reintroduce industrial hemp into Kentucky—and eventually U.S. agriculture. Dan Malloy and a small film crew from Patagonia, paid a visit to farmer and military veteran Michael Lewis to see how it was going.
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About Before the Flood:
Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens, captures a three-year personal journey alongside Academy Award-winning actor and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio as he interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned and pragmatic views on what must be done today and in the future to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.