Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Preservation, Conservation, Exploitation

There is a small continuum of possible ways to use land. On the one hand is preservation, do not disturb the land at all. On the other hand is exploitation, get every little bit of value out of the land as possible. In the middle is conservation. Using the land for productive capacities, but aiming not to deplete it and thus lose one's livelihood. In graph form:
Preservation, Conservation, Exploitation

That's the spectrum of how to use land, energy, and just about all material objects. The examples I give below the line are only that, examples. I realize that calling farming "sustainable" (in quotes) may rile some readers but it is worth noting that we aren't entirely sure the century long results of our environmental impact, specifically when it comes to agriculture in the midwest United States. Also, listing Superfund sites as anything other than pure exploitation may make others angry, but the fact is many superfund sites are successfully reclaimed to nontoxic levels.

Every person has an opinion on where we should stand on average in the world. The truth is the world is finite. It is very big, and has a lot of resources to offer, and gets bombarded with more sunlight, adding energy every day, yet it is finite. I tend toward the preservation side of conservation, but I know what materials my cellphone and laptop require, which come from open pit mines and future Superfund sites, and I recognize those are a fact of our world. Yet I worry that the impact we have on Earth right now may not be realized for decades or centuries to come, and for that reason I suggest we attempt to reduce our consumption of resources and enhance our use of more renewable resources. Land use and land management, not to mention energy use and management or resource use and management, are complicated topics. No one person has all the answers. I simply want to point out there is a spectrum of opinion and use of land, energy, and resources and with a continually growing global population more tough choices will be demanded in the future. For your own good, and the health of us all, think about this now in your own life before someone else makes the choices for you.

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