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Design Under Sky discusses landscape architecture, the utilitarian but leaning towards the conceptual, thinking on modern occurrences and peripheral boundaries.  

DUS is the blog and personal design studio of Adam E. Anderson, a designer based out of the East Coast, currently a Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a designer at Landworks Studio.

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Natural Pollution

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)

Reader Comments (2)

good post:

I enjoy that you entertain the idea that we are saving ourselves and not the earth. A much more intelligent understanding of what is happening, rather than the 'save the earth' campaign. The earth is expanding and has already succumb to its own destruction, even if it is a matter of geological time and not yet understood at a human scale. The question is, do we really understand our path? As comforting and safe the ideology of aligning with the earth systems is, we are digging a path of our own destruction.

The answer lies in the 'unnatural' (although I believe that it is naive to think we are separate from the system and the ‘unnatural’ term should be reserved to describe things that are outside systems, I will use it in terms of how it is widely understood), we need to redirect the earth not align with it. The earth and the universe do not a care whether or not we survive, it only knows to continue in its expansion and destruction. The only way we can secure our species is to change the system, not align with it.
August 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSam Hall

Thanks for well thought comment. One of the suggestions I was trying to make is unnatural, and symbiotically articficial, which stems from 'artifact', meaning affected by man, does not exist because it is all part of the complete system. Without getting into complex ideology, which I'd love to on a different platform, "our role" might simply be defined as maintaining our existence.

Interesting thought on 'changing the system' though. Incredible advancements in technology, design, and engineering would be necessary for a complete changing of systems, which I believe we're certainly capable of doing. But what I'm saying is wouldn't it be more intuitive to altar our systems in alignment with the awesome power of which Earth has already laid out for us?
August 28, 2008 | Registered CommenterAdam E. Anderson

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