Saturday, August 9, 2014

Odds 'N Ends - Carbon, Global Warming and Native Plants

Succinct Description
Wild Ones is a national organization that promotes landscaping with native plants.   A succinct description of the carbon cycle, which under-girds any environmental discussion, appears in the March/April, 2014 issue of the Wild Ones Journal.  The author, Daniel Kjar, PhD, Myrmecology, Ecology & Evolution, had this to say:

"Carbon is an element that makes up both plant and animal life on Earth.  Carbon is the backbone for most if not all organic molecules.  Through a process called "photosynthesis" that only plants can do, they use the sun's energy to combine carbon, oxygen and hydrogen to make glucose, a simple sugar.  Every other living thing utilizes the sugar molecules manufactured by plants to obtain the carbon for whatever is needed.  We humans convert the sugar into fats, proteins, nucleic acids and numerous substances that make up our bodies.  This cycle of carbon can be represented as:

Energy from sunlight + carbon dioxide + water  ->  sugar  ->   carbon dioxide + water + energy of life."
(I guess it is safe to say that some animals exist on plants (herbivores), some exist on animals that exist on plants (carnivores) and the rest exist on both (omnivores).)

Fossil Fuels  
He goes on to say that, "Organic matter.....can slowly turn into long chain carbons......that we use as fossil fuels.  The burning of fossil products that we mine from the ground.......releases far too much carbon into our atmosphere, creating the Greenhouse Effect that is heating our atmosphere."

Global Warming Controversy
When Darwin introduced natural selection, the reaction to it took several contentious decades to work through three stages that all profound truths seem to have to go through -- ridicule, opposition and acceptance -- while financial interests confuse, delay and deceive.  Do you see a parallel for global warming?

Native Plants
Native plants not only produce food for wildlife, but, by mitigating global warming, make the planet a healthier place to live.  They are easy on finite resources in that they do not need watering (water is becoming the world's most valuable finite resource) or fertilizing or mowing (both of which require the finite resource -- petroleum).  Native plants had been doing a good job of sequestering carbon for 20 million years until the Europeans came to plow them under, cut them down and burn them off.

If you have any interest in natural landscapes,  we heartily recommend becoming a "Wild Ones" member as an opportunity for networking, sharing information and exchanging seeds.  We have already started using natives for the landscaping we can do before construction is finished and plan to maximize native landscaping post-construction. Fortunately, we will be able to tap into the broad expertise of the more knowledgeable fellow members of Wild Ones.

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