Monday, December 13, 2010

Bush Honeysuckle in Indiana - posted by Lauren Campbell

On October 9th, 2010, I participated in a flood plain naturalization project at the Burr Oak Bend to help provide a buffer for the river and to protect the native plant settlements. This was an ongoing Service Learning Project founded by the Central Indiana Land Trust. Our participation in the learning project involved removing invasive non-native plant species such as the Bush Honeysuckle. The goal is to preserve the native plants’ natural growth and protecting the natural wildlife’s native habitat. This project also prevents unnecessary erosion of the rive bank; helps control service containments and sediment pollutions; and maintain and improves the water quality of this river. I was particularly interested in helping remove the invasive plant species because I wanted to see how they affect our environment and what balance must be struck to adequately preserve and conserve our local environment.

Our project area is located just south of 206th street in Hamilton County near the Center for Earth and Environmental Science of IUPUI. As a group we walked through some of the native brushes to get to the worksite. The walk to the worksite was actually more difficult than what I imagined. There was a small “path” and I was surprised how difficult it was to actually maneuver through the brushes. Once we arrived at our worksite at the riverbank, Cliff, our guide, showed us what Bush Honeysuckle actually looks like and how to remove it from the environment. There was Bush Honeysuckle everywhere.

I was surprised how abundant it was. We were to cut down the Bush Honeysuckle with either a small saw or with pruning shears, depending on what size the Bush Honeysuckle was; the sizes varied greatly. Some were the size of small trees and others that were small enough to not even be noticed. Our guide directed us to cut the Honeysuckle down and then to drag it to large piles that had already been established from previous service projects. The process, started by the Central Indiana Land Trust, was to cut down the larger Honeysuckle, let it decompose for six months in the large piles and then to come in with herbicide and kill the small saplings that were left. This is a very tedious project and according to Bob Barr of the Land Trust, it is one that has been ongoing for about six or seven years.

Cliff explained to us that Bush Honeysuckle was originally brought to America from Asia in the early 1900’s. Travelers who brought the plant to American thought that it would provide solid shelter for small animals such as birds. It was also intended to provide a source of food for birds and other wildlife from its small red berries. It was not until a few decades ago, with the development of new technology, that researchers were able to break down the sugars of this berry and realized that it does not contain complex sugars, but simple sugars. This meant that birds that ate these berries were not getting the right amount of carbohydrates, which leads to lack of energy and prevents the birds from being able to fly long distances. With Indiana being in the center of many migratory paths, Bush Honeysuckle is detrimental in migration to many different bird species. (There was a study done in 1999 in the tri-state area regarding birds and Bush Honeysuckle. Researchers followed 600 birds that built nests in Bush Honeysuckle for the purpose of laying their eggs; when hatching time arrived none of the 600 nests had a single hatchling survive.)

Bush Honeysuckle is such a dense brush and it is so prevalent in the area, it has prevented ground animals’ ability to move through it. This is detrimental to the local deer’s migration patterns and caused an over abundance of deer in the area. In the early 1900’s, it was thought that deer would eat the berries provided by these Bush Honeysuckle, but through rigorous research it was discovered that they do not. Because deer do not eat the Bush Honeysuckle berries, they are forced to survive on other native local plants. This puts a strain on the ecosystem and the available food resources for the area.

Through the Central Indiana Land Trust’s service learning project, hopes of removing Bush Honeysuckle are quite high. The process is very unique as well as time consuming. It has taken six or seven years to begin to see improvement in this small Indiana area. But through the dedication of the Central Indiana Land Trust as well as volunteers, researchers think that Bush Honeysuckle will be completely removed and native plants will begin to grow again. By adding native Indiana vegetation, soil erosion will decrease, allowing other native plants to grow. A native vegetation canopy will decrease soil erosion and thus increase the water quality in the White River. With all the dedication and time that people spent doing this project as well as other projects around central Indiana, the Central Indiana Land Trust in cooperation with IUPUI has protected almost 4,000 acres and 15 nature preserves in the state of Indiana.

Because of this project I have learned how important native plants are to our local environment; they provide warm shelter to small animal species, food for many different species, and also maintains the entirety of the local ecosystem. Native plants help control erosion, which in turn help with the quality of water in the White River and ultimately in our state. In class we have discussed the negative effects that erosion can have on water and on soil quality. Sediment pollution is also an environmental issue that we have discussed in class. By removing invasive plants and establishing native plants near rivers and other waterways, volunteers can prevent sediment pollution. Prevention of sediment pollution in one area of a river can affect the quality of water through the entire river and also help control flooding. Through this learning project and through class lectures, I have learned how one small plant can affect the state as a whole. The ecosystems located here in Indiana , as well as the global ecosystem, are so beautifully balanced it is amazing how much it has endured through the decades with human population and consumption at an all time high. In the course of this project, combined with class I have learned so much about the balance of the Earth and what we need to do to help sustain it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Self- belief or self-delusion:

Self- belief or self-delusion:

[you may want to read this article before you read this blog: Are the climate change deniers with no evidence just naturally gullible?]

I have always been one of those annoying outliers who could never accept the established truth. (To be honest, I think I enjoy being the anti-establishment just so I got to entertain my odd sense of humor.) I’ve questioned authorities everywhere I felt that challenge to the establishment could bring progress and innovation. I hold myself to a standard to advance the society a bit further from the call of the beast. At the same time, I seek to learn from the spectrum of cultural and social dialogues to better my own understanding of the role I must play in this short and precious life.

Being an outlier has its advantages of being distinctively connected to the undercurrents of our societies. I grew found of the Tea Party movement, the Libertarians, the Communitarians, and the whole salute of alternative political views. But I understand that to be an effective outlier, to advance a culture in the direction of positive progress, I must also accept the norm and take some sides on issues that are volatile and polarizing. It is a good thing to have a core belief system, so that when faced with disinformation I am able to recognize the cleverly disguised political agendas and the motivating incentives behind the curtain.

But acquiring that core belief system is a difficult process, one that is enduring perhaps throughout one’s lifetime. Each one of our core systems of belief is shaped by our education, our capacity to accept some ideas as a priori. Take for example: we are all bound to believe that 1 + 1 = 2. This is a simple mathematical truth, that without it, our very social structure would fall apart. If when you wake tomorrow, the consensus is that 1 + 1 actually does not equal to 2, just imagine the chaos at your local grocery stores. (Trust me, there is an fractional algebraic proof that 1 + 1 actually equal to 1.99999. . . .) The point is not to prove there is no certainty in our lives, but just the opposite, that we take things for granted to form our core beliefs so that we can continue to look forward to living productive and meaningful lives. But the caution is that we must make educated guesses to take our leap of faith, to form our core belief systems. Our educated guess doesn’t have to be absolute and if you are looking for absolute truth, I urge you to look at Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem - that language in itself does not and cannot validate truth in of itself. This is echoed by the Archimedes’ point – that to verify a 2 dimensional (or three dimensional if you prefer) truth, you would need to be lifted to the higher dimension to observe the whole context of reference (also note the observer’s principle here in the Uncertainty Theory).

Now that we have our philosophical exercise out of the way, I want you to turn to the focus of today’s rant: global warming and anthropogenic green house gas emissions.

I’ve notices a lot of disinformation lately. What prompted me to write this piece of rant is a facebook post I saw:

‎"In most communities, neither victims, nor the proponents of sustainable development are aware that their plight is part of a global agenda. Indeed, most would scoff at the idea. Nevertheless, the transformation of America is well underway, without public debate or Congressional approval. From watershed, to ecosystem, to village, to city, to multi-county regions, to trans-boundary biospheres- the U.N. agenda is being systematically implemented- with the help of elected officials, paid for with the taxes of American citizens."

-Henry Lamb, “Why the Government is Grabbing Our Land”

The phony Christian-conservatives have never warned you about the very plan that is the very means whereby planners are silently, insidiously, and deceptively dragging America into a global government, the seat of which is intended to be the United Nations. That plan is “Regional Governance.”

-Jakie Patru, “Regionalism: Sneaking America into Global Government”
Naturally I had a quick reaction to these posts:

the problem of environmental justice goes beyond the incremental climate changes that will cause significant problems down the road. I won't get into an argument about the science because both sides of the political spectrum have funneled billions of dollars into media campaigns to swing your opinion for the good of a few (rich and delighted who continuous to pollute, and the environmental nut jobs who will blow up the whole world to just prove the world is coming to an end...) sustainability practices falls somewhere in the middle, where business will find innovative ways of promoting a distinctive connection to mother earth and yet succeed in bringing the human race above and beyond the call of the beast...

all that aside, what is inescapable is the environmental and human injustice suffered at the opinion of these so called small government fundamentalist (aka fake anarchists) who thinks any cooperation with a global forum is a bad deal. let's not forget that the top 1% of the population control about 90% of the global wealth, and the top developed countries contribute the majority of the pollutants emitted. where is the environmental justice and human rights protection? tossed aside for ideals and individualism. these super rich and super powerful countries have a hidden agenda to promote in convincing you that global politics is bad, because once you realize a power of collective action, their model of profit and power is doomed...

i recommend that thinking before acting or believing is the first step... but beyond that, individualism should adhere to a principle of cooperative justice to eliminate the injustice we face as a collective human race. the survival of the specie is paramount to the survival of the individual...

- anarchist

But then I got to thinking: where were these types of disinformation when the G7 exclusively controlled the global financial system? Why weren’t we fighting the global government on curtailing the super rich from being increasingly powerful?

So you now have a choice: to affirm your self-belief that global warming is a real consequence of our past transgressions against our distinctive connection with mother earth; or to self-delude and believe that this whole global warming talk is just another way for the super rich to control you even further and squeeze more from your empty pockets. Either way, I think you have some choices to make against the establishment. But before you go on questioning everything, just remember 1 + 1 = 2 . . .