Monday, April 22, 2013

How did you celebrate Earth Day?

Happy Earth Day!! It's April 22, and since 1970, this has been celebrated as Earth Day across the US and now much of the globe. Look at these great pictures of the first Earth Day in 1970 from National Geographic.

What did you do to celebrate it? Oh, what the heck, let's just give up on Earth Day and try to do things year round. Add good, healthy habits to our daily lives. Make decisions consciously which may influence the environment around us. Take our surroundings into consideration.

First, let's look at what the environment provides us. In recent years there has been an expanding study and valuation of the environment. Imagine being able to quantify the beauty and utility of rain and put a dollar (or British pound) value onto it. These valuations are made on environmental goods and services which benefit humans which we now call "ecosystem services" (a phrase popularized by the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, a report released by the United Nations in 2005).

This graphic from the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment nicely sums up the idea of ecosystem services (on the left) and the benefits these services provide to humans (on the right) and the importance of the linkages between these (arrows).

This year am improving our currently bare backyard from a bit of decking and open space to a lush little backyard. I am planting herbs so far, and soon I will be adding some vegetables and native flowers to the terrace area. Not only is this providing food ecosystem services, but this small act also supports an astonishing variety of ecosystem services:
  1. pollination service - I hope my flowers will attract bees, insects and perhaps some bat pollinators if I can find some good large white flowering plants
  2. aesthetic services - yes, prettiness is an important cultural ecosystem service
  3. stormwater regulation - rather than allowing rainwater to runoff the terrace, the rainwater will soak into my plant pots, be filtered by the plants and the soil, and will increase evaporation of rainwater from the surface
I'm dreaming of something like this:
Click on this picture for more ideas from Apartment Therapy
What will you do this day/year to improve or maintain ecosystem services provided by the environment around you?

Happy Earth Day to everyone!

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