The reason there is so much hype around sustainability has to do with a widespread awareness that we as humans benefit from ecosystem services.
What are Ecosystem Services? Goods and services that provide direct and indirect benefits to us from processes involving the interaction of living elements, such as vegetation and soil organisms and non-living elements such as bedrock, water and air.
The quality of our lives, including our economic cycles, are directly impacted by changes in these processes. The goal, obviously, is to achieve a positive impact.
The Services provided by a functioning Ecosystem include:
- Global Climate Regulation – we need breathable air and sequestered greenhouse gases to maintain the balance of atmospheric gases at historic levels.
- Local Climate Regulation – Shading, evapotranspiration and windbreaks can positively impact local temperatures, precipitation and humidity, and reduce energy costs.
- Air and Water cleansing – We all need clean air and water!
- Water supply and regulation – Even here in the Great Lakes region we need to recharge our aquifers and watersheds.
- Erosion and sediment control
- Hazard mitigation – reduce damage from flooding and drought.
- Pollination – Remember biology 101? Our crops and our ability to be fed require pollinators. Healthy food equals health people. This is the start to long-term healthcare reform.
- Habitat functions. – This was Biology 201 – you might have missed it. The rivets of our world are the diverse animal and insect populations. We need genetic diversity in plants and animals, and right now the rivets are popping out as essential populations decline and disappear.
- Waste decomposition and treatment – We can either participate in the cycles of an ecosystem, or crowd ourselves out with our garbage.
- Human health and well-being – Another step in healthcare reform. Interaction with nature is proven to enhance physical, mental and social well-being, making us happier and more productive and content. Human energy is valuable, too, and shouldn’t be wasted or taken for granted.
- Food and renewable non-food products – A healthy ecosystem provides us with food, fuel, energy and medicine—at a lower cost!
- Cultural benefits – The good life embraces cultural, educational, aesthetic and spiritual experiences as a result of interaction with nature.
So, how do we get there? By examining those activities ‘we’ve always done’ and asking ourselves, can it be done different? A change in mindset will result in innovation. In many cases, it’s a return to common sense.
By adopting the following principles, individuals, businesses and communities will create a positive change to the quality of their lives