In discussion with a fellow landscape architecturally like-minded friend, the topic of defining “natural”, a common thread here at D.U.S., within our landscape and in reference to urbanism and sustainability came up as a topic of conversation.
What is natural? If you consider human existence a natural occurrence then “unnatural” does not exist. Could it be that all human actions and environmental impacts considered to have detrimental earthly effects might actually be a higher level of an Earthly sustainable system, the purpose, removal of the cause?
As my friend stated, the common vision of a healthy landscape is that of a green, lush, often well-groomed one. But in reality death and destruction are vital parts of human nature as well as landscapes, from this creating balanced ecosystems and further sustaining future growth and life.
The Chiginagak crater volcano in Alaska shows what we’ll call a natural form of earth’s own self-afflicting pollution. In the early summer of 2005, Mt. Chiginagaks’s crater lake flooded the adjacent valley releasing an acidic mist, destroying vegetation and wildlife in it’s path. I couldn’t tell you what natural systems would trigger this specific instance, but Earth has a natural sensitivity threshold, which when provoked triggers climatic and ecological change, acting as an antibiotic eradicating the virus.
It’s these naturally occurring events that suggest, despite what our egos and spiritual beliefs maybe, how insignificant our effect on the big picture of earth’s own self-sustaining systems.
This lack of effect doesn’t mean we should stop our efforts increasing technology for sustainable living, but we’re not doing it to save the Earth, it will be fine, but we need to do it to save ourselves.
(images via New Scientist)