Rules of Thumb, 30x30, and the Laws of Nature

Spring Landscape (Rain), A. Krehbiel My mother had a commonplace book in which she recorded, by hand, in beautiful cursive, proverbs, sayings, and quotes that struck her as interesting, thought provoking, or wise. I also love sayings, and quotes, and mantras, but mostly I’ve collected rules of thumb, those short pithy statements that condense ways of dealing with life on earth in the same way that proverbs give advice on how to behave in prudent, trouble-avoiding ways.  Rules of thumb exist for every field of human endeavor. There are the general ones, such as the 80% rule, or Pareto Principle, that gets applied in sometimes surprising ways—"eighty percent of every thing is trash,” someone will say, or another will say that “80% of your output comes from 20% of your efforts,” for example. The 80/20 ratio is useful in all sorts of contexts. For example, in a perennial garden, the general rule (backed up by scientific evidence) is that about 75-80% of the plants should be native (lo

Yes We Are, Doing Something about Climate Change

 Warning: this post does not mention plants or gardens.

Response to climate change is gaining mass, I believe, regardless of our nationally elected leaders' passivity or outright obstructionism

I went to the Chicago Wilderness Conference* Thursday, and it was heartening to listen to the scientists, educators and ecologists discuss climate change data, and more importantly, to hear of the education and ecosystem projects going on in the Chicago region. People from going into the neighborhoods and schools, working through community centers and with policymakers. The atmosphere was one of “the debate is settled, this is what’s working, we haven’t much time, let’s do more.”

Then in the evening I went to the first big meeting in my town (partnering with another town) for our citizen-created sustainability plan which explicitly includes reducing emissions, planning landscaping to act as a carbon sink, reducing car use, managing water, accessing alternative energy and so on–all the things we need to be doing to help lower our collective carbon footprint while preparing for a low carbon future. And the village governments are on board with this.

We can’t wait for our legislature to pass laws: real change must come from the ground up.

*The only discordant note for me, and it's a big one: BP helps fund the CW alliance. Guilt money? To distract us silly environmentalists from BP's tar sands involvement? Robbing Peter to pay Paul? Does CW then agree to turn a blind eye to the Whiting, Indiana refinery? Which is "the 6th largest source of industrial pollution in the Chicago area, according to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune," and a threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. See this article in the Michigan Messenger.


Diana Studer said…
Wow! That does sound encouraging. I wish you all every success with that project. And that others will follow enthusiastically in your footsteps!
"planning landscaping to act as a carbon sink"
This topic has received very little attention. Perhaps you can elaborate on the subject.
EE--yes, I am fortunate to live in an area where so many concerned citizens and institutions are working together to protect our landscape and adapt to a low-carbon future.

AG--I am planning a post on the resilient landscape, but with research will take me a couple of weeks to prepare and write.
Heather Holm said…
I would like to hear more about the Carbon sinks too. I first heard about the concept a couple of years ago at the North American Prairie Conference. The person giving the lecture said that prairie plants are the best candidates with their deep root systems depositing the carbon in the soil as the older roots die and decompose.
Hi Heather,
Yes, prairie plants are among the best species to help with carbon storage. I'll do a post on that really soon.