Archive for ‘Environment’

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day, Mother Earth

by Caroline Brown

Oh, mother earth,
With your fields of green
Once more laid down by the hungry hand
How long can you give and not receive
And feed this world ruled by greed

Oh, ball of fire
In the summer sky
Your healing light, your parade of days
Are they betrayed by the men of power
Who hold this world in their changing hands

Oh, freedom land
Can you let this go
Down to the streets where the numbers grow
Respect mother earth and her giving ways
Or trade away our children’s days


  • Mother Earth (Natural Anthem), copyright Neil Young, 1990
  • Image courtesy of NASA.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

We are what is wrong, and we must make it right

by Caroline Brown

Wow. Here’s Al Gore’s Nobel Lecture from yesterday. I can’t paste it in, it seems, without incurring the wrath of the Nobel Committee. Still, click through and read it in its entirety. It’s worth it.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sustainable Sites gaining steam

by Caroline Brown

Finally!! A group has come together to “standardize” the definition of a sustainable landscape. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and other organizations have created a partnership called the Sustainable Sites Initiative to develop guidelines and standards for landscape sustainability.

Currently, “sustainable landscape” is a nebulous, mushy concept. What does it mean with regards to water conservation, for example? Or use of native plants? Since it’s never been defined before, “sustainable landscape” is in the eye of the beholder.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Seed banks: the ultimate seed savers

by Caroline Brown

In case of a global catastrophe, what happens to our plants? What would happen if a plant species was wiped out due to global warming, epidemics, species extinction, or a weather disaster? What if genetically modified seeds contaminate the last strain of  an important heirloom crop? Some smart scientists figured out a long time ago that seed banks might save us from ourselves. Like fallout shelters for plant DNA, seed banks are doomsday vaults that protect seeds against natural and human-caused disasters.

Photo courtesy of the University of Illinois Extension Urban Programs Resource Center.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A walk in the woods

by Caroline Brown

This past weekend I participated in a seminar called 21st Century Landscape Literacy at Apeiron Institute for Environmental Living in Coventry, RI. Apeiron’s mission is to promote sustainable living practices and ecologically healthy communities in southeastern New England. On their property, they’ve built an eco-house using green building practices. (You can take a virtual tour here, it’s really cool.) Apeiron held this seminar to teach people how “to read our lands remembering the ‘old ways’ and with new technologies toward sustainable relations.”

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

An ode to meadows & grasslands

by Caroline Brown

A study released yesterday by the National Audubon Society found that the populations of many common birds have taken a nosedive, primarily due to habitat loss:

The dramatic declines are attributed to the loss of grasslands, healthy forests and wetlands, and other critical habitats from multiple environmental threats such as sprawl, energy development, and the spread of industrialized agriculture.


Overall, agricultural and development pressures have driven grassland birds to some of the worst declines, followed closely by shrub, wetland and forest-dependent species.

I’m sad about the birds, but it’s also depressing to think that some day, children won’t know what a meadow looks like. Read the press release for yourself to learn about which birds are declining in numbers; there’s no need for me to restate the Society’s good work. I’ll spend my time eulogizing their habitats instead. First, an ode to grasslands and meadows.

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