What can we do to help our environment and ensure viable and productive ecosystems in nature?
The Answer That Largely Goes Unheeded….
… sustainability in the most elementary of the concept, and adaptation in the full biological sense of the word.
Adaptation is a change where the organism or species becomes better suited to the environment, not the environment becoming better suited to the species. The latter implies control, something our species seems destined to provide.
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Image from my other blog, Green Apples, The Buck Stops Here. You want more big buck photos?
Most of nature’s creatures follow this doctrine; living, working, and having everything that they need for survival and well-being by relying on the immediate natural environment and adapting to constraints and conditions. The animals and plants take only what they need and in turn, return to the earth and give back. They each keep their numbers in check.
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No, not native or even a plant known to our area or planting zone, Nandina domestica Obsession, zone 6-9, is a new plant in my garden (non-invasive variety, native to Asia) generously shipped from Southern Living Plant Collection. They were kind sponsors for the Garden Blogger’s Fling in NC this year. I also received Mahonia eurybracteata Soft Caress zone 7-9 (native to Asia and October/November bloomer) and you will see it in my monthly wrap-up blooming in the garden. These two berberis relatives will be a trial here. If you live in the South, check out Southern Living. They are a real quality outfit.
Were We Ever Truly Sustainable?
We once did this when we first tossed seeds to the wind and discovered farming around 10,000 years ago (History Channel, source – Mankind, The Story of All of Us). Ironically, that is believed to have occurred in Israel, a hotbed of contention in our world today. Some findings have indicated man growing plants from seed could have first occurred 23,000 years ago, but farming as we understand it did not take hold until much later.
- About 10,000 years ago, early man started developing familial communities of about 60 or more.
- 10,000 B.C. the human population reaches one million.
- Around 9,000 years ago, farming became a way of life (source History Channel).
- At 3,000 B.C. man establishes villages, the rest becomes the road we take today with the start of land ownership.
Land ownership based around farming, led to levels of violence not seen in early man’s existence previously. This created a whole host of problems for humans because farming turned millions of humans populating the planet into billions. It also led to conflict. (History Channel)
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Dandelion seed head images shot November 21, 2012
And with billions comes the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth swallowing up natural resources. Sustainability, once early man’s way of life, is now coming to light, even if only in theory, out of need to our environment.
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The Difference is Why.
When our species reached 5,000,000 on this planet, it was assumed to be the first time a single species dominated our planet. (source). But we were well within sustainable capacity of the land, partly because infant mortality rate was low, most living only a few years past birth. The average age people lived was much lower than it is today.
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Then people lived sustainable lives because they had no choice. Do it or die. They did not even comprehend that they were living sustainable lives either, it was just something they did like the animals were doing.
Is Sustainability Feasible?
Today, being truly sustainable is a complete rarity and unless it spreads beyond the relative few, is almost pointless in the grand scheme of things.
The only thing not pointless is the peace of mind it gives the individual doing it. Today, it is not even an attainable goal on a larger scale unless some disaster forces it upon us as a species. Too much advancement and personal comfort would have to be abandoned.
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To be a sustainable individual, we have to have a sustainable home; then we need a sustainable city; that requires a sustainable nation; and that, a sustainable world. You can readily see the problem to the solution.
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Yep, We are Nature Too
… all 7,080,897,112 of us as of the time this post was finished. And how do you get over 7 billion people to think sustainably? I am guessing most of them have more immediate things to think about. Not so different from long ago, but also quite different in how it is done.
In prehistoric times, man adapted. The individuals in the small groups all had their jobs to do to sustain the group. It was very hard finding and making everything they needed to live. If things grew lean, they used their two feet and moved. Now, land is owned and this makes moving impossible in many respects if a person does not have the funds to purchase. To purchase, you need money, when in times of old, you needed ambition, hard work and craft. Early man made his shelter from available materials and a lot of ingenuity. Slightly different today.
Funny thing about ownership, you own nothing when you pass on. In a way, you own nothing here either. You are a temporary caretaker, and many don’t take this responsibility very seriously.
I have written about this before and it seems like an unattainable battle to get a world view that has the same agenda. There are too many of us in the first place, but also too many that don’t, or choose not to care, and sadly, there is no answer to any of this.
And what about our dandelion?
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Each dandelion head makes between 40 and 170 or more seeds per yellow bloom, and a single plant up to 5,000 seeds per year. Can you imagine how many of them are in the world? They are the botanical success without a doubt. The last few posts mentioned some of the reasons. Here are some reasons the dandelion is a sustainable plant.
- All parts of the dandelion are edible cooked or raw, but boil roots for safety. Don’t pick them from where you are unsure if they were treated with pesticides.
- The common dandelion weed is packed with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, thiamin, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and selenium. Added to that, it supplies vitamins and nutrients, A, K, C, B1, E, B2, B3, B6, beta carotene, choline, plus much more. One half Cup of greens has more vitamins than the average multi-vitamin.
- There are 14,000 IU of Vitamin A in one Cup of raw leaves of dandelion leaves, much more than carrots.
- One Cup of raw dandelion leaves has more Calcium than 1/2 glass a milk.
- It has also been cultivated as medicine for thousands of years by numerous cultures to treat countless ailments.
- Since those years in food crop production, selective breeding techniques have been employed to grow them tastier, bigger and more nutritious.
- They are non-invasive despite how many you see in lawns, and are seldom found in healthy, wild settings, beyond the initial succession of low-growing, herbaceous species. They get weeded out by taller growing plants shading them from the sun.
- Bridgestone Corporation, the tire manufacturer, announced that it has “produced promising results leading to the Russian Dandelion becoming a commercially viable, renewable source of high-quality, tire-grade rubber.”
Is there no end to the miracle of this plant? And it is free and very available, certainly a sustainable plant for sustenance and health. I like the leaves in salads and salad dressing, but there are even recipes for dandelion cookies.
So what ends as it begins, “What can we learn from a dandelion?”
Are we a biological success? It really just depends. We are the most innovative and successful organism on the planet in countless ways, but also one of the most wasteful, dangerous and damaging as well.
Next a Macro post. Hopping on Board with Macro, Shooting the Critters.
If you missed the first four posts in this five-part series, please take a look:
- What Can We Learn From a Dandelion?
- A Little About Gardening Touches A Lot About Life
- When Disaster Strikes, What’s Next?
- Simple as looking at Your Own Garden