Snowball Effect: Transportation and Fragmentation

This is the result of a writing exercise I started awhile ago. I started with the word “Fragmentation” and a vague consciousness of where I wanted my theme to gravitate. What ensued was a semi-poetic rant that exemplified consequences of our actions.  My thoughts often ‘snowball’ into more complex scenarios and consequences.

Fragmentation. Spiderweb. Concrete and asphalt silk web. Grand ecosystems were traditionally divided by climate, elevation, mountain ranges, watersheds, and coastline. Now, as wheeled metal beasts traverse the countryside in search of imported, lead-painted, corner-cut, “fine-quality” products, their tracks and great rivers of concrete and asphalt further fracture faltering ecosystems.  Roads go from A to B, and from C to Z to the Zth power–leading from sprawling suburban homes (in neighborhoods named after the ecological communities they replace) to the vast, deserts of pavement (parking lots that ironically serve an ‘energy star-rated’ clothing store).  Both flora and fauna feud these barriers, ripping at and cracking the transportation webs. They attack the metal beasts responsible for the defiling and treacherous tracks.

Who cares? We curse at animals that attempt to cross our roads and in front of our automobiles. We curse animals by increasing their need to cross the road.

What of the organism glued to your grille or smeared to your windshield? Perhaps that organism, a wasp, was preying upon a Coleopteran pest, a non-native beetle introduced by the importation of our strip-mall goodies and premanufactured trash. This particular pest got away because its predator greeted your tread at 45 miles per hour. The predators are few since the bugger is exotic. Well, this invasive beetle happens to thrive on the Ash tree. The Ash cannot single-handedly fend off this foreign offender. So, an Ash falls.  Stands of Ash street trees fall.  Ash forests fall.  Ashes in ashes.  A singular event does not merely have asingular consequence.  “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe” John Muir

Transportation. Fragmentation.  Pest introduction.  Forest Destruction.

Indeed, fire is a natural renewal of land, but we have dangerously suppressed it in concern for our homes and strip malls built among the trees and the Ash.  A host of pest-induced dead trees provide kindling for a disastrous fire. We scorn the forests for producing fiery tragedies. Clear Cut! Pesticide! Herbicide! More parking lots! In the end, the trees are downed by fire or by brawn. The service of trees as soil-holders is done away with.  Stormwater infiltration decreases as water instead runs away at the surface, increasing erosion. The service of the trees as wind filters has been done away with. The wind barrier is weakened and more drafts sweep away more precious soil and water. Desertification occurs and the land becomes barren and useless. Useless land supplants lush, diverse forest with meager fragments left to recollect their grandeur.

Transportation. Fragmentation.  Pest introduction.  Forest Destruction.  Environmental Service Reduction. Desertification.

Who cares? Perhaps we should. All is not lost, but we who procrastinate deepen Nature’s wound and inadvertently welcome the consequences.  This is God’s green Earth and we are to be its stewards. Minimize fragmentation and promote reforestation, land reclamation, sustainable harvesting, native plant planting, wildlife corridors, and ecosystem restoration; the benefits will prevail for generations.   Environmental stewardships seeks to understand our environmental mistakes as we become aware of them.  Environmental stewardship seeks to mitigate the damage caused by anthropogenic activity.  Environmental stewardship seeks to ensure that those generations ahead of us can be sustained.

Transportation. Fragmentation.  Pest introduction.  Forest Destruction.  Environmental Service Reduction. Desertification.  Education! Rejuvenation!


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