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There Is No Sustainability Without Ecology

By Keith Bowers, President, Biohabitats

Why is ecology being marginalized or totally left out of the discussion of sustainability?  How can we even think about sustainability without thinking about and incorporating ecological carrying capacity, ecological processes, landscape ecology, conservation biology and biodiversity in land development projects, resource extraction and infrastructure improvements?  A LEED© or Living Building Challenge project built with little or no regard to these factors is not sustainable and never will be.  Pretty soon we will have a bunch of ‘sustainable’ buildings in a sterile landscape where crows, rats, cockroaches and Kentucky bluegrass reign supreme, all the while bemoaning the fact that we have lost 90% of life on earth and have no idea how that happened.  Sound rigorous science needs to be fully incorporated into land development projects.  Time to wake up!

1 comment

  1. Kevin Heatley says:

    This is an easy one – the reason ecology is left out of sustainability discussions is that bugs, bunnies and butternut trees don't vote or spend money in the marketplace. No voice = no inclusion as stakeholders. Now we may get partial consideration of the needs of other species by appealing to the utilitarian "ecosystem services" concept but ultimately, if you as a critter or plant (or worse yet fungal mat) can not demonstrate some value to the human species you are s**t out of luck.

    On a less philosophical and more practical level, the reason ecology is left out is that the engineering and design professions are not trained in it as a discipline. Perhaps it would be more advantageous to have ecologists doing design as opposed to architects and engineers trying to do ecology.

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