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Are we or are we not experiencing a present-day eco crisis?

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Recently, the newspaper U.S.A Today asked the question: “Is there anywhere safe to live?” Having published a full-page insert, bad weather was reported as brewing from blizzards to heat waves and across the nation the prospect of ongoing natural disasters fueled by unhealthy shifts in the environment.

As I reviewed this report, I saw a repeated U.S.A map depict region by region increases in blizzards, snowstorms, earthquakes, flash floods, monsoons, tornadoes, hailstorms, heat waves, hurricanes, typhoons, ice storms, thunderstorms, lightning, tsunamis, nor’easters, river valley flooding, volcanic eruptions and wildfires.

Scientists for years have attempted to awaken the public as to the ongoing effect of their continued misuse of the environment; still, for many to heed a warning, disaster must occur in their backyard. And, in fact, a survey conducted by the National Gardening Bureau reveals only 3 of 12 eco-friendly practices are used by more than 50% of all U.S.A. households. Similarly, forestry data reports ongoing loss of 10% of our Nation’s forest every 10 years.

Nevertheless, as a whole, we continue down a path of environmental indifference. For, we live in an era in which we honor someone with the Nobel Peace Prize for his/her focus on creating awareness of global warming; and at the same time, have the potential of electing Presidential candidates who view present-day environmental issues as hype. Should you be concerned? You, bet!

It was not until the 20th Century that a renaissance, an attitude of stewardship of land, occurred. It was during this era that insects resistant to chemical control were observed and the concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) conceived. In 1942, Jerome Rodale published his Organic Farming and Gardening, which later renamed Organic Gardening. In 1949, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac espoused ethical land usage and in 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, emphasizing the effect of pesticides on wildlife. Gradually, landowners shift their focus toward organic gardening: mass-produced organic grown farm produce, nontoxic methods for pest control, recycling in the form of composting, and regional natural garden designs. And, in 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formed the first Earth Day celebration. Gardeners, more aware of their impact on the overall environment, not only respected an existing vista but preserved and enhanced its environmental health; in other words, North American gardeners adopt the concept of becoming caretakers of space, ecological gardeners.

A model one-of-a-kind community ecological commitment is the Oregon Gardens located in Silverton, Oregon. This garden provides a mechanism for treating wastewater while protecting the ecology of a local watershed. Silverton’s wastewater treatment plant produces treated water, although clean, that has a higher than normal water temperature and nutrient content.This water is diverted into two 3,000 gallon underground tanks and stored for irrigation. A pumping system spreads the water throughout the site. Excess water flows into lower ponds, known as the wetlands. Gravity pulls the treated water through 15 clay-lined ponds. Wetland plants absorb the excessive nutrients while more formal gardens use the portable water in fountains and water-falls. Eventually, the water, sufficiently diluted, is returned to Silver Creek. Silverton’s garden design not only contributes to the ecosystem’s health, it weaves environmentally responsible practices into an overall design.

Assuming our Nation did indeed experience an eco-revolution, the question is ‘are we or are we not experiencing a present-day crisis?’ What are your thoughts on this issue - post comment, share experiences with others!

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