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Green Green Grasses at Our Homes

Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist, Dr. David Suzuki, suggests that we are one brief generation in the long march of time. The future of the Earth is not ours to erase. All that we know and believe about the “Web of Life” must now become the foundation of the way we live. He says that:

“We must work from dominance to partnership.
From fragmentation to connection.
From insecurity to interdependence.”

“The average lawn is an interesting beast: people plant it, then douse it with artificial fertilizers and dangerous pesticides to make it grow and to keep it uniform-all so that they can hack and mow what they encouraged to grow. And woe to the small yellow flower that rears its head!”

― Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

If you were to select on these two pictures, a well-maintained lawn or this just this unmanaged lawn for our front yard as well as our backyard, which do you prefer? You and I would of course select the picture that is pleasing to our eyes, the well-manicured lawn. But, have you ever wondered, the expenses in maintaining such beautiful lawn for the whole year round. To maintain its beauty, of course, we have to spend. Once or twice a year we are fertilizing and spraying our lawns making our lawn grasses vigorous and verdant green.

On the other side, have you also considered the effects to our surroundings or environment as well as to our health? We are applying fertilizer to different varieties of plants. Supposedly, fertilization should be applied of what nutrients are lacking in the soil. The continued use of single species of plants at any given area will deplete the soil nutrients as well as the micro nutrients. For a specific plant it will only consume also a specific kind of nutrient. In the long run as years go by plants become thinner and weaker because all nutrients/substances that they needed were mostly depleted or consumed. That is the reason that we are adding fertilizer to the soil so plants will continue to grow vigorously.

In addition, we also spray chemicals to the grasses. It is our thinking that weeds and other unwanted plants will be killed in the process of spraying herbicides/weedicides. With the regular spraying of the grasses, the other useful organisms and microorganisms in the soil cannot survive the chemical bombardment. How sure are we that insecticides, pesticides, weedicides or herbicides or whatever “cides” are safe to human beings? Any kind of pesticides/weedicides affects our ecosystem. Some of these will flow downslopes, leach or seeps with the action of rainwater. Those that flows downslopes will go down our river systems. Those that will seeps or leach will join with our water table. And eventually, it will end at our table as foods and drinks. An informative book to read to augment the writer in this discussion is “Since Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson.

An elucidation of the ecological principle so that each of us could simply understand. The law of ecology have a resemblance to the third law of Newtonian Laws of Motion “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Amplifying it, that what you do will have a repercussive effects to your surroundings. Relating to ecology, “everything is related to everything” that there are symbiotic interdependency (an example) of all living and non-living things to its environment. Relating it simply, the environment is like a spider web, we may call “web of life. ” The actions and reaction that take place within our fragile ecosystem are like a spider web – when one strand breaks, the web is damage and becomes imperfect. What affects one part of an ecosystem, affects the whole in some way.

The idea of the web of life is shown by the interdependence within an ecosystem. Animals and plants depend on a complex system of food for survival. In a typical prairie ecosystem, the web might work like this: The sun provides energy for the grass; grasshoppers feed on the grass; birds and frogs eat the grasshoppers; snakes eat birds, frogs and mice; owls and hawks will eat the birds as well as snakes, frogs and mice. When an animal dies, it is decomposed by worms, fungi and bacteria action and nutrients are released to the soil during the decaying process for the grass to use again. Connecting the many plants and animals with lines representing their functions and food chains within this web would create a tangled maze. It is obvious that all forms of life in the ecosystem are dependent on all other living and non-living things for food, nutrients and energy. A good recommended reference book for further reading on the tenets of basic ecology is “The Web of Life” authored by John Storer. How about raking the leaves in your lawn? Do you know the disadvantages? The writer is referring you to read this article.

Going back to our lawn grasses, fertilizers and pesticides introduced are either in the form of powder, granules, liquid or mixed together to form solutions. Sprays are directed to the foliage. Solids are applied to soil surface or foliage. Some fertilizers and pesticides are systemic that they get absorbed in the plant tissues. In general, they directly applied where the plants are grown to fight pest and diseases.

These pesticides/herbicides/weedicides or generally called glyphosates tend to remain active long after destroying the target i.e. pests, weeds, fungi and rodents. On continued application these chemicals causes contamination of food materials, disruption of natural balance of ecosystem by killing non target species and gradual increase in the immunity of target organisms to these chemicals. Further, since most of these chemicals are non-biodegradable they enter the food chain and persist in plant and animal bodies. Eradicating the target species in favor of maintaining a single species is also gradual elimination of other species that relies on them.

Since human beings are in topmost consumer hierarchical level, produce from the soil and/or food from the waters all finally ends up at our table. In the eventuality, our health is affected. It’s now on us to decide the fate of ourselves and our children’s future.

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