A curious and embarrassing incident recently unfolded right here in Iowa County. Suffice to say it involved an early morning run for doughnut holes for 14 hungry campers, a stranded woman in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot trying to start the doughnut-run vehicle with the wrong key, a foggy-minded “to-the-rescue” spouse who also failed to identify the appropriate key, several calls to friendly AAA agents, a tow to the local garage, and finally, the “Ah-ha” moment of matching the correct key with its intended vehicle. The moral of this convoluted tale? Things are so much easier when one uses the right key.
While it should have been easy for the doughnut-hole couple to select the right key, it’s not so easy concerning some of our more challenging environmental issues. There’s certainly room for debate over what to consider as “key” environmental principles. But here’s one norm most are likely to agree on: Work WITH nature, not against her.
A case in point - In 1976 an ice storm ravaged a black walnut tree at the top of a narrow draw on pastured land that would eventually become part of the Tennessen homestead. Ragged and torn, that single tree grew back. Her walnuts rolled and were carried and buried by squirrels down that draw and into the surrounding over-grazed pasture.
Once the domestic critters were withdrawn, many of those walnuts took root. With just a few modest efforts at pruning these young saplings, there now stand hundreds of trees growing straight and tall, some approaching 40 ft. It surely wasn’t by our design, but by working WITH nature – gravity, squirrels, the proper soil and climate – a ragged waste-scrub landscape was transformed into a woodlot full of environmentally and financially valuable timber.
We humans thirst for energy and pay dearly for it; all the while free energy sources - wind, solar, geo-thermal – surround us. We’re rapidly improving our abilities to harness and store energy from these sources and use it with increasing efficiency.
Instead of continuing to extract fossil fuels FROM nature to power our societies, perhaps the right key that will make things easy may be at hand. By working WITH nature’s energy that already surrounds us we can make it easier to get those doughnut holes delivered to hungry mouths with the added benefit of having a cleaner world. It can happen right here on the only home we’ll ever know where we’re forever…Earthbound.