If you are like me, you have responded to the state drought mandates by making changes to your daily habits and declaring a broader intention of living sustainably for the good of the planet. Given my curiosity about the social and natural sciences, I thought I had a basic understanding of the causal relationships between human behavior and the environment and that this knowledge would guide me in making the right choices regarding conservation. I have so much more to learn.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” — William Butler Yeats, poet
Putting earth stewardship into practice is a journey filled with surprises. The decision to limit irrigation use, for example, may be a big deal for one individual and considered a personal accomplishment once the step is taken. Then the law of unintended consequences kicks in. Tree experts are reporting signs of drought stress in urban trees due to lack of water. We have adjusted our irrigation use without consideration of the watering needs of the trees located within gardens or lawn areas. Additionally, water-stressed trees are susceptible to pest infiltration.
We need trees and forests. They are essential elements for a healthy planet. They contribute positively to climate, biodiversity, air and water quality, health, social environments, and much more. We have to be smarter about how we care for and protect them.
Every action has consequences. Our challenge is to keep ourselves informed and learn from the unexpected results so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes. This is part of our unending education if we are committed to improving the well-being of people and the planet.