My website is officially launched! I announced it on social media and invited people to view it. This is a bit of a leap, because I still have little content up on the site. This blog will continue to grow, as I myself grow in knowledge and make connections with other people. Today marks a humble beginning.
Earth Day and the Celebration of Life
Earth Day celebrates all the myriad forms of life and terrestrial processes on this beautiful planet. The totality of intricate relationships that make up our planetary ecology is mind-boggling. Nonetheless, we humans have the ability to travel the planet and observe, in person, far-flung examples of these many life forms, or to go online and observe them virtually. That is power.
Over the several decades of my adult life so far, I too have been blessed with opportunities to travel. In the first snow of winter, I have climbed the peaks of Japan’s Yakushima Island to see Jōmon Sugi, a Cryptomeria tree that is at least 2,000 and possibly as much as 7,000 years old. Macaques cavorted in trees nearby as I began my ascent from sea level.
Walking Taiwan’s roads, I have watched kingfishers dart across rushing streams and egrets sway on bamboo in rain. In the lush tropical zone of Southwest China, I have bobbed with happy frogs and hapless giant beetles in a pool fed by monsoon rains. Under vivid alpine light, I have climbed barren Tibetan hillsides topped with prayer flags and looked down upon verdant village fields.
A break in storm clouds forms a rainbow over a cultivated hillside. Xishuangbanna, China, 2005.
Abo leads me across a log bridge into a forest that no longer exists today. Xishuangbanna, China, 2005.
The Value of Diversity
These and so many other scenes have impressed upon me the value of diversity. Life manifests in a multitude of ways. We need this diversity. Diversity brings stability. Ecological and cultural diversity go hand in hand. We need both. And economic diversity. Diversity is healthy.
As we erode ecological diversity, not only do we lose beautiful examples of what life can be, but we also endanger the foundation of relationships that support us. I would wager that ecological, cultural, and economic diversity are interconnected. A loss of economic diversity appears correlated with losses in these other spheres. All of these spheres speak of the integrity of our relationships, or lack thereof.
At this point, most of us know a great deal about what is going wrong environmentally. Increasingly, people are talking about loss. Extreme weather events have us talking about climate change. This is familiar territory. We know that our modern ways of living are hurting the planet, but most of us struggle with the problem of what to do about it.
Economic priorities tend to cloud our moral compunction. I am guilty of this, too. Earlier in my life, I saw environmental work as integral to my self-identity, but in getting my PhD and discovering how difficult the job market has become, I had to adjust my expectations. This blog is an effort to bring my moral compass back to pointing true North.
The western sky ablaze, as if witness to the burning California forests. Vermont, USA, 2020.
An autumn maple banishes green from its leaves. Vermont, USA, 2018.
Cottage Eco is meant to serve as a broker of ethical opportunity. I bring to this blog a unique set of academic and experiential tools that can help contextualize our options for fixing this breaking world. From ecological anthropology to the history of Chinese religion and to longevity patterns, I have traversed paths of both the inner life of the mind and outer life observed by science. I pledge to share what I know.
Can we reform? Can we fix the world’s problems?
We can only try. No one can do the job alone; we must all do our part.
Potted ornamental taro. Taiwan, 2012.