Stream Bank erosion destroys land, soil, water quality, fisheries, and community assets
With all the recent focus on the Wall Street “financial crisis”, I thought I’d illustrate erosion of real assets. These assets took hundreds of years to build and provide billions of dollars in annual benefits and avoided costs. These real erosion problems are caused by increasing volumes and velocity of stormwater runoff, not Wall Street bandits.
The narrow and shortsighted obsession surrounding this “financial crisis” reminds me of the wisdom of Wendell Berry, one of my favorite writers on land use and right livelihood:
“We are involved now in a profound failure of imagination. Most of us cannot imagine the wheat beyond the bread, or the farmer beyond the wheat, or the farm beyond the farmer, or the history beyond the farm. Most people cannot imagine the forest and the forest economy that produced their houses and furniture and paper; or the landscapes, the streams and the weather that fill their pitchers and bathtubs and swimming pools with water. Most people appear to assume that when they have paid their money for these things they have entirely met their obligations.”
One way we could describe the task ahead of us is by saying that we need to enlarge the consciousness and the conscience of the economy. Our economy needs to know — and care — what it is doing. This is revolutionary, of course, if you have a taste for revolution, but it is also a matter of common sense.”
Essay: “In Distrust of Movements”
Trees and vegetative cover along stream banks help intercept rainfall, thus reducing the amount and speed of stormwater as they filter pollutants that eventually flow to streams.
This is what a healthy stream looks like:
But as developers destroy forests and pave over natural landscapes, rainfall has nowhere to go. When rainfall hits rooftops, roads, and parking lots, it warms up and picks up various pollutants. Huge volumes of water are created that rapidly overwhelm streams, causing erosion, sedimentation, flooding, and water quality problems, especially for sensitive species like trout and small invertebrates that are essential to healthy ecosystems. These problems impose hundreds of millions of dollars of costs on local governments, flooded out homeowners, and water purveyors for additional drinking water treatment. Take a look at the damage – photos all shot downstream of roads or new development – Alexauxen Creek (West Amwell), Jacobs Creek (Hopewell), and Stony Brook (Hopewell):
[Update: 10.05.08] – this post makes the point far better than I:
Sarah Palin puts polar bears on thin ice
Governor Palin’s response to the debate question on global warming revealed two things that should disqualify her from any high political office.
First, she basically said that understanding the cause of a problem is irrelevant to fixing the problem.
Second, she denied that current global warming is caused by man made emissions.
These Palin statements were not minor gaffes, off the cuff remarks, or “gotcha journalism”. Instead, they were the result of extensive debate preparation. As such, they are far worse than the Katie Couric interviews.
They reflect a deeply ignorant and non-rational mind – which is shocking and should cause real “conservatives” to challenge McCain’s judgement in selecting her.(or they could reflect the fact that she knows exactly what’s going on and is merely lying for political effect).
Here’s the text and link: (boldface is mine)
IFILL: Governor, I’m happy to talk to you in this next section about energy issues. Let’s talk about climate change. What is true and what is false about what we have heard, read, discussed, debated about the causes of climate change?
PALIN: Yes. Well, as the nation’s only Arctic state and being the governor of that state, Alaska feels and sees impacts of climate change more so than any other state. And we know that it’s real.
I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man to the changes in the climate. There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.
But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don’t want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?