Aware of a Changing Environment
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

October 23, 2011

An ecological engineer is defined by an introduced organism into a new environment willingly or unwillingly, that then changes the environment in some fundamental way. A good example is a beaver. When beavers are introduced into new environments, they radically change their surroundings by cutting down trees and building dams.

Spending this past summer on the west coast of Vancouver Island, I started to notice massive amounts of logs distributed along Long Beach and many other beaches. I mentioned to a friend I was walking the beach with one day how these log ridden beaches looked to be a byproduct of the timber industry and the wonder of how these logs were changing the beach environment. At first he disagreed stating these beaches had always had logs, but the more logs we saw with clear cuts and no roots, the clearer it became. Most of these logs have been lost during their shipping sometimes as log booms break up and then are washed ashore.  What would these beaches look like before the timber industry?

A beach changed by the logging industry

It is also certain that of all the creatures on earth, humans are changing the environment far more radically than any other creature. There is a series of new shows out called Python hunters and Hog hunters. These shows are based on hunting down invasive species that are now overwhelming sensitive environments. It looks as if our mistakes and attempts to correct them by the eradication of these animals have suddenly created a source of entertainment.

Beyond stating the obvious, what is the point of understanding ecological engineering? I think it is important that we be aware of our shifting environment and the fundamental causes as the world continues to change. Perhaps as we walk into new environments, we should ask ourselves more often than not, has this area changed and if so, how? Is the environment healthier for the change or not? And how will my intensions and actions further influence the system. By becoming more aware of our surroundings, we will together be more prone to see the change happen, weigh the outcome, and act accordingly. For now, I’m waiting for the day when there is a show about the Lion Fish hunters of the Caribbean.

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