The need for ecological awareness has never been greater.
Global climate patterns are being disrupted and warped beyond anything we’ve ever witnessed.
Our soil is being depleted faster than it can regenerate. Best guess is that the planet has 60 years of conventional farming left before it's exhausted beyond use.
Our oceans could be devoid of life before the end of this century, maybe even as soon as 2050. The perfect storm of overfishing, pollution, and climate disruption spell the end of marine life as we know it.
Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and the planet’s average temperature is climbing.
Regardless of whether humans have anything to do with it, these are indisputable facts, and they require no less than a paradigm shift in the way that humans interact with nature.
That’s why I created the Permaculture Lifestyle Ecoliteracy Project – not because I believe that I can singlehandedly bring about this change, but because I know that change will only be possible once more people understand why it’s necessary.
As a student of ecology I gained a wealth of specialized, sometimes esoteric knowledge that has had an immense impact on my worldview.
It’s the reason why I forage, and grow my own food. It’s why I work on a farm. It’s why I write and speak about permaculture and rewilding – and why I believe that they are the most rational, practical responses to the global existential crises of our era.
By the time I graduated from college I took my understanding of ecology for granted, but in the years since, I’ve discovered just how little of this information actually makes its way out of academia and into the hearts and minds of regular people.
To that end, I have compiled a list of 30 key terms related to ecology, filtered through the lenses of permaculture and rewilding, and defined in plain English for the non-scientist.
But beyond simply introducing these concepts to a wider audience, my goal with the Ecoliteracy Project is to get people thinking about the philosophical side of ecology – what these terms imply about humanity’s place in the world.
Some, like predation, parasitism, and symbiosis, describe relationships between organisms, and imply that the Earth is an unbelievably interconnected web in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Others, like pioneer, invasive, and keystone, describe roles that organisms fill in their ecosystems, and imply that all species have an intrinsic value as members of the global community of life.
Taken as a whole, I hope that these terms add up to a simple and effective “remedial course” on ecology, imbued with a philosophical understanding of what ecology tells us about how we can work with nature, rather than fighting against it, in order to develop more resilient and regenerative ways of living on our bruised and battered planet.
Every day in the month of April I will start a conversation about a new term through Facebook and Instagram.
If you share my passion for raising awareness of these critically important concepts, I hope that you will share these terms on social media and help me to reach as many people as possible with this core message.
We may not be able to change the world tomorrow, but we can take meaningful action as individuals to improve the ecological literacy of our communities – to help the world at large to understand why change in our time is a moral imperative.
And no, social media is not the answer. Of course not!
But the farmers, gardeners, and teachers among us know the secret – just how easy it is to sow a seed, which can grow into something phenomenal...
With that in mind, I hope you’ll join me in scattering a few seeds this Spring. ;)
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