It sickens me when I see workers with those sprayer packs or trucks that look like small chemical plants.
Before I decided to comment I submitted my write up, if you are interested you can read that you can read here:
Edit: I did want to mention that I definitely seen a massive decline in butterflies and moths over the last 15 years.
Update: I quoted 40 million acres below, which is for turf grass which probably includes athletic fields. I am not against everyone having a lawn or athletic fields. I do think people should be able to cultivate their native environment on their suburban property and this should be encouraged and even incentivized. My neighbor’s kids play in their backyard, so they have a need for it. Of course a non herbicide non monoculture lawn should work ok too. That’s what I grew up with.
Also I think that gas powered devices need to be replaced with electric devices. I think something like 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled alone in relation to lawn maintenance.
The thing that scares me is the normality of spraying for mosquitoes. In my area it’s the invasive Aedes mosquito species, the native species are a lot less aggressive. Also with some of these other very scary invasive species like the marmorated stink bug, ash borer, lantern fly, that new Asian tick, etc. Are we going to end up using more and more insecticides and subsequently kill more and more of our native fauna?
Unfortunately in recent years global warming has made summers longer, hotter and drier and the natural temperate "lawn zone" is moving northwards. England will more and more see "hosepipe bans" against using clean water in gardens.
People choosing lawns in dry, unnatural areas of America are doing so to replicate some European ideal. People mandating lawns are doing so to mandate the Europeanness of their neighbours.
(A good summary: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practic... )
Lawns are historically grazed fields. That's organically maintained I guess, but no one has a lawn like that today, not even in England.
Here in the UK, in an average garden, you'll have no issues you want to keep a lawn - simply mow once a month at most, and maybe water in the middle of summer. Really isn't hard to look after here - my parents even leave the cuttings where they fall as the worms will pull them into the soil pretty fast if you let them.
Obviously this all depends on drainage/soil type.
If you choose to host social events on your own property, that's fine. Houses are great for that. But is it really worth it to maintain a yard 365 days a year for those hypothetical three that you use it for entertaining? Is it worth it for everyone to do that, at such environmental cost? The universe is not all about your pleasure.
I'd love it if we had denser, walk-able, and affordable village style housing developments in America, but we don't.
Then you haven't lived in low density suburbs/rural areas, you're very lucky, or you and I have different definitions of "easy range". There is a park about 5 miles from my house. Too far for an easy walk and even if it was, most of that is on a divided highway with no sidewalks that would be crazy to walk on.
Technically biking would work, but I'm not risking my life to drive down a divided highway with cars going 65+mph to bike to a crappy baseball park.
The closest park that is anything more than a few baseball fields is just under 15 minutes away by car, and I'm about 25 minutes from the downtown area of a major city (with no traffic).
This is normal for most of rural and suburban America.
Plenty of people out here (most where I'm at) live in subdivisions off of highways that would be absurd to bike on, and almost nowhere in my county has sidewalks.
>Are you sure you're not just being too picky about what kind of green space qualifies for you?
There's a cemetery that shows up as green on Google maps that's a bit closer than the park I mentioned. Still not safe to walk or bike to.
You are vastly underestimating how hostile most of the US is to biking/walking.
Well, let's see. I've lived in cities of multiple sizes - Wellington, Detroit, Ann Arbor. I've lived in both inner and outer suburbs of Detroit and Boston. I've spent significant time visiting Silicon Valley and Seattle, shorter times visiting a few dozen other cities both in the US and internationally. Is that Scotsman enough for you?
My experience is that the cities have parks and (usually) mass transit. Inner suburbs also have parks, plus sports fields and playgrounds that residents can use when school's not in session. By the time you get to the outer suburbs, you can add patches and strips of undeveloped but still accessible woodland. The configuration changes, but the green's always there. Often all you need to do is find someone walking their dog and follow them, because they'll go to those places for exercise and socialization.
Maybe there's a peculiarly southern kind of sprawl in which all of the land for miles in any direction is enclosed in people's yards, but I just spot checked around Atlanta and there don't seem to be any places like that except for the airport. You don't live at the airport, do you? Sure, there aren't many green patches in a plain street view, but switch to satellite view and there's plenty. There are probably woodlands with cut trails near you that you don't even know about. At most it looks like you might have to go ~3000 feet (barely half a mile) to find something, so I think I'm going to stand by my theory that you're ruling out valid options.
No it's not. With the exception of Wellington (don't know enough about it to know) those are all much higher density areas than the vast majority of the US.
As to the places you've visited, there is almost zero reason you would have spent much time in the areas I'm talking about while visiting.
>Maybe there's a peculiarly southern kind of sprawl in which all of the land for miles in any direction is enclosed in people's yards, but I just spot checked around Atlanta and there don't seem to be any places like that except for the airport. You don't live at the airport, do you? Sure, there aren't many green patches in a plain street view, but switch to satellite view and there's plenty. There are probably woodlands with cut trails near you that you don't even know about. At most it looks like you might have to go ~3000 feet (barely half a mile) to find something, so I think I'm going to stand by my theory that you're ruling out valid options.
No I don't, but this is absurd. Sure there are woods out behind my house because I own them, and there are trails through them because I made them.
All of the undeveloped land nearby is owned by someone else. We don’t have a right to roam in the US. You don’t just go walking onto someone else’s land--that’s a good way to get shot, or at the very least get a visit from the county sheriff. Just walking down the road outside of a subdivision around here will get weird looks from people (mostly because it’s not safe because the roads weren’t designed for it)--a large adult man walking through their property will definitely prompt a negative response.
When I was a kid we used to wander off into the woods behind a neighbor's house, and I used to explore the golf course nearby, but we got chased off by people, dogs, and cops as well.
Even if I did find a neighbor with land who was willing to let me use it, I couldn’t get to it without walking down divided highway unless it was in my subvision.
Don't you mean the vast majority of the tiny corner you know? You haven't even mentioned ever living anywhere else, let alone in the same variety of places I have, so I'll take your claims about vast majorities with more than one grain of salt. Maybe you really do live in a place uniquely deprived of public green space (though that's still unsubstantiated by actual maps or anything). If so, it's still your choice and you're welcome to it. It doesn't change reality for the true vast majority. Enjoy life in your self-made closet.
No, I meant exactly what I said. Objectively, the vast majority of the US has a lower population density than most of the places you mentioned.
>Maybe you really do live in a place uniquely deprived of public green space (though that's still unsubstantiated by actual maps or anything)
It's not unique or unsubstantiated. Here's a study that says for people in small towns there the average distance to a park is 6.1 miles--that's consistent with my experience. Even in cities (outside of the city center--there it's 0.7 miles) the average distance is over a mile, and in the suburbs it's over 2 miles. 
If there are few nearby parks, what options are there? Trails on undeveloped land you mentioned? Who owns this land? Take a look at the green space on a satellite map in the metro Atlanta area. If it's not a park (or similar like a WMA), a private individual owns it. You completely ignored my point about trespassing on private land to start a pissing contest about who's lived in more cities.
The US is not a very walkable country, it shouldn't be so shocking to you that vast swaths of the country lack public greenspace that's accessible without a car.
>Enjoy life in your self-made closet.
I have plenty of green space of my own (complete with the odd deer, wild turkey, coyotes, foxes--hell I even had an escaped emu run through my back yard once) and a car (that I used to drive to the Smoky Mountains last week). Sure I'd like it if the US was more walkable, but the way development is currently done means the trade offs of living in a more walkable area aren't worth it for me.
And you're the one who started the pissing contest, by trying to claim that I'm unqualified to comment. Don't whine that you lost because your own horizon is so narrow.
No it doesn’t. Did you just make that up?
>It doesn't include things like the walkable areas often around sports fields, which are pretty much everywhere.
Sports fields are generally in parks, which are included in the data set. The vast majority of parks in rural and suburban areas are sports parks--definitely included in the data set.
Publically available sports fields not in parks tend to be part of schools. They aren’t always publically available, and they are never available during school hours. You certainly can’t use them to host events, grill out etc... Most of the school fields around here won’t even let you walk on the grass, and most of them keep the gates to the fields locked when school’s out.
>It doesn't include private parks or
Did you read the source? It even mentions that the dataset doesn’t different between private and public parks.
>areas which are implicitly - or quite often explicitly - open to the public.
An explicit public greenspace is a park. I’m not sure what an implicit public greenspace is. Undeveloped land that doesn’t have a no trespassing sign? Do you have any examples? Can you have a cookout on implicitly accessible land? Can you set up a volleyball net? Who’s cutting the grass? Clearing the trails? Can you even be sure you aren’t trespassing? When does it close? Will the police show up?
What implicity accessible land do you regularly use?
>The vast majority of the population lives in cities or inner suburbs,
When did we start talking about the majority of the population? I’ve specifically been talking about lower density areas throughout this entire thread.
>and for them a walkable space is rarely even half a mile away.
But while you’re on the subject... I assume you’re still talking about publicly accessible greenspace when you say “walkable space”. The median distance to a park for a person in a city center is 0.5 miles. That means that half of people live farther than that. For the suburbs the median distance is over a mile. Living farther than half a mile certainly isn’t rare.
Check out ParkScore. One of the metrics is percent of residents within a half mile of a park--it’s not rare, particularly in low income communities.
>And you're the one who started the pissing contest, by trying to claim that I'm unqualified to comment.
I never said that. You should go back and reread what I did say. Stop ignoring the topic and focusing on perceived slights and straw men.
>Don't whine that you lost…
There’s no point in declaring victory--no one else is reading.
Why wouldn't we be? If a few people choose to live in a virtual desert, that's their problem. What's important is what's available to those who lack the means to make such choices. I used to be one of those people, but even when I lived in one of the densest most blighted parts of Detroit it wasn't hard to find little pockets of green. Again, follow the dog walkers. They know.
And since you seem so determined to control the focus to what suits you, let's not forget that the original question is whether people need lawns specifically. You haven't even addressed that point. A lawn is an artificial environment, barely more natural than a wood floor or deck. Most people don't even use theirs, except occasionally during child-rearing years. They just pump them full of herbicides and insecticides, deplete often scarce water supplies with their sprinklers, waste tons of energy raking leaves, etc. Are you going to start making the case that having "a place to stand" (as whatshisface originally claimed) is worth all that?
I think lawns are mainly for looks.
It's just crazy to think that now it can be against the law (or at least against HOA rules) to not have a lawn. Like it's illegal to plant a vegetable garden in your front yard.
If you live in a strata or HOA, all bets are off - maybe lobby for an astroturf exemption?
WTF!? I am from Europe, is this really a thing? Although,it wouldn't surprise me, watching American Movies, lawn and suburbia seems inseparable.
For most areas, it's aesthetic.
Here in the south-east, a short lawn will have no mosquitoes but a grassy area will have plenty (as in you'll get 20-30 bites in one evening outdoors), so that's a strong motivation.
Simply a case of no, a lawn it must be?
... which means "protect interest of neighbors".
People like when their neighbourhood looks nice and is safe from snakes, bugs and mosquitos.
In some places, particularly wealthy places built up after WW2. Some people like it because "muh property values". Just as many hate it because "muh freedom"
Making that illegal should be illegal.
In my area those are called the TruGreen lawns, and they dominate much of the city 3 seasons out of the year. Those little signs that tell you to keep your living creatures off of them for a week after application, or longer depending on weather. I don't, however, think that anyone bothers to notify the squirrels, rabbits, opossum, and birds about those limitations - they will all continue to frolic on doused areas, eat and drink from those areas. Not to mention the impact on insects, the impact on the soil and water.
All for what? Fewer weeds?! It's disgusting to see such callous disregard for our environment being perpetrated as a matter of routine.
Care to elaborate? I spent over 40 years in Florida and maintained a few lawns during that time, and I have never heard of such a thing.
Source: my family has a rural house with walkable front- and backyard.
Are they? Over here in Germany, most lawns I see, that ain't in parks, usually have "Keep off the lawn!" signs.
You will be happy to learn that we are just on the cusp ...
Bosch and Dewalt have very high density battery power systems and they are using them for lawn tools - including normal push mowers. Other tool companies are quickly following suit.
Unlike past iterations, these tools really do have the power and longevity to do real work. To wit: my local volunteer fire department now carries a battery powered Dewalt chainsaw in one of our engines.
As for the embedded carbon cost in all of these new tools and batteries and the production pollution that is occurring "somewhere" ... an exercise for the reader.
I told a couple people in my family about getting a corded mower once and they just scoffed at me and extolled the "virtues" of their gas-powered mowers. I was pretty annoyed at their condescending attitude about it, as if they had the moral high ground on the issue.
As for why I maintain my lawn, well I have dogs, and dogs might enjoy sniffing tall grass, but they run a lot less than they do on short grass. We had both this year because we were too busy to mow for awhile and the difference in their behavior was pretty stark.
Also when you do finally mow it again with thick grass it takes at least twice as long to mow the lawn because the mower can't handle it as easily.
They were everywhere.
The hedgehog will curl up and (at least some of) the machines will drive into it.
Beware some reel mowers though... they can have plastic gearing inside which wears out pretty quickly.
Also you need to get the hang of adjusting the bar against the cutters "just so" and the height of the reel above the grass depending on how damp and long it is.
Price is obvious, buying a second battery can be a hundred dollar affair and then the confusion sets in as a lot of time the spare batteries are not exactly the same as the original, most manufacturers offer spares in lower amperage to make the price lower. Confusion over volts versus amperage and how it applies to functionality. Performance system because these air cooled solutions will run down faster in tall or wet grass and battery reliability hasn't been great.
I owned a Ryobi 40V mower. Sold with a 5Amp battery. It was around four hundred dollars. A second battery a hundred and fifty dollars. If you had anything beyond a small lawn you need two or more else you just take an hour off. Grass gets tall or wet the motor works harder and battery life takes a hit and worse it got hot. A hot battery will not charge. Needless to say I returned it. the New 56V systems use a completely different batter and the higher amperage batteries are approaching four hundred dollars just for the battery.
That said, I plan to remove the small bit of lawn that I do have and replace it with something of an English-style garden.
They are loads of fun! Your grass ends up looking better too.
(I have a small yard that was previously mowed using a string trimmer.)
I've seen a few landscape crews using battery powered blowers and trimmers (not downtown, but near IAD). I have no idea how they manage the batteries.
The better alternative would be for society to realize that noise pollution can also be quite an issue, instead of insisting things need to be loud because "we like loud, it projects power!".
I get great enjoyment from my lawn, and my dog does too. In fact, I spend quite a bit of resources maintaining it so that it's a pleasure to use without getting covered in spurs. My lawn is my favorite surface on which to spend my time, and there are many, many others that get the same enjoyment from theirs.
Myself, I quickly learned to avoid any lawn space because my skin would break out in small hives from touching it. I'm not sure if it's the grass species most commonly used, or the pesticides on it - but I know I wasn't the only one with such allergies.
I think most people here are not advocating for abolishing lawns like yours entirely. Instead, the consensus is that they should be optional, not enforced uniformly for aesthetic reasons. I'd add that what we should make mandatory is public outdoor spaces (with native species and plenty of shade) within easy walking distance of each house, so that someone might receive the kind of enjoyment you do without feeling like maintaining their own patch of green is the only way to get it. It might even help alleviate the sense of isolation acutely felt in a lot of suburbs.
What's produced in return is a lawn that you can use - for all the purposes people use lawns. I'm not sure what's so ridiculous about this.
I despise lawns but there's a reason they're watered.
Here in the SF Bay Area, we just went for about 7 months without a single rain drop, so one would absolutely need to water a species of grass that would never need watering in Kentucky.
As a society we have to consider the amount of resources we put into, and damage caused by, all our pasttimes. Particularly for things which don't appear at all innate - maintaining lawns is by no means popular around the world, it's mostly a European diaspora thing. If it were stopped, it's doubtful most people would even remember them in a generation or two.
Our whole neighborhood remained indoors 97% of the time because most days in the summer had temps of 95-100F. Every house nevertheless diligently watered their lawn, multiple times a day, to keep up a perfect shade of green. The one house that wouldn't would be shamed relentlessly until they straightened their act.
Our neighborhood did not "enjoy" its lawns. It was collectively petrified into maintaining them to avoid public scorn.
There are over 900 million acres of farmland in the United States, so I'm going to guess this assertion (the "equally") is wrong.
It seems to me you're otherwise right about how we put our yards together, though. You didn't even mention how much water we often use to move our yards away from the native flora.
And water is a huge issue too. The native plants thrive in wet and dry conditions without attention.
Suburban lawn care has been going on for decades, using largely the same approach it always has. Mainly fertilizers applied once or twice a year if you bother to care. Broadleaf weed killers, maybe grub killer. The primary way to getting a nice lawn, though, is to overseed so often you choke out weeds. On the other side of the coin, agriculture is engaging in a broad spectrum application of herbacides, pesticides, etc with new formulas coming all the time. At an insane scale.
There is no comparison to yards. It's agriculture.
Whereas urban folks spray 10-100X the concentrations on a single dandelion that a farmer would be penalized for.
I would expect that the harm to the environment per unit of area is greater for lawns than farmland. I'll have to look for studies that research this.
If you've ever had a chance to run/play on modern artificial turf it's amazing. I think most facilities would love to switch to it but it's super expensive.
- Jamie Rappaport Clark, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [circa 2000]
That statement says a lot less than it is designed to sound like it says. I mean, it's literally true if the most pesticide happy homeowner with a postage stamp sized lawn saturates it with pesticide at a per-acre use 10 times that is typical of farms
What you want is “on average” comparison, not “up to”, which is only useful for deception.
And it requires constant maintenance. Crews are here almost every day, driving mowers around, blowing and removing leaves and clippings, watering, spraying herbicide, etc. It strikes me as obscenely wasteful.
And for what? Nobody is picnicking on this grass. It's just an aesthetic choice that it seems like all of America has embraced - and no wonder everything is dying off. We're actively killing everything on this land that isn't the exact species of grass that was planted.
I think the place I live (Ireland) has been so completely denuded that people literally don't know what nature is. It looks like that will be the whole world in short order.
Most of the plants in your photos are considered weeds. So by not pruning and selectively removing aggressive and invasive plants, you're actually increasing your neighbor's use of herbicides in their attempts to combat them.
Then you cried foul when local laws were used to compel you to clean up your messy yard that was a nuisance to others. You're relying on the "why can't everyone else just behave like me then we wouldn't have an issue" defense.
I think it looks wonderful. 1000x better than the bland, sterile putting greens in front of boring mc mansions.
The OP agreed to the laws of the municipality when he moved into the home. If the house he purchased was part of a covenant or an HOA, then the sell was not allowed to sell to him unless he agreed to the terms of said covenant or HOA.
If the OP objected to or did not educate himself to any of those laws or rules prior to agreeing to them, that's his fault.
Taking photos one day is not the equivalent to maintaining a yard for a day let alone a season. If you look at the three photos of the yard, not the close ups of flora and fauna, you'll see there's no plan or layout. The yard was just allowed to overgrow with plants.
Additionally having plants growing that close to the house traps moisture and doesn't allow the house to dry which can lead to issues with foundation and siding.
If the OP were truly maintaining the yard then he'd have pruned back the plants form the house.
A few years ago, the city started spraying everywhere for mosquitoes. The day after spraying, people frequently find a couple dead birds in their yard. One neighbor's bee hives were killed as well.
Lately, seeing one single butterfly a year is a rare event.
In some European countries the government is pushing for softer herbicides and pesticides usage by public agencies. Where I live it's met with resistance all the way from 70 years old who use bleach on plants to get rid of slugs to workers who prefer splattering herbicides all over the walkway and in the gutter to burning herbs with some kind of small flame throwers.
People are completely mad here, spending most of their saturdays or sundays circling their garden on their huge lawnmower truck. It's a valley so there's a constant whirring noise from April to early November. There's a lot of education to do and frankly.. I believe it's getting way too late :/.
This raises a curious question for me. My grandfather is from Ireland (Meaford, Canada now) and still an avid gardener. He swears by Murphy's Oil Soap (diluted, 2-4%) to deal with harmful insects like Spider Mites.
Does anybody have any more scientific insight on that? Mind, he uses it on a far smaller scale, mainly spraying his flowers, vegetables, and other garden plants with a small spray bottle. Not much of a lawn guy.
Soap is used sometimes to get rid of some plagues (because many plages use wax to avoid dessication or deter predators and soap distroys this upper layer) but remains in the soil aren't good at long term. Of course you can't use any common insecticide, because spider mites aren't insects, but you can use (or support) mite predators that will munch on spider mites.
Spider mites hate the moisture and, if is in a pot, just spraying water repeatedly can help a lot, or even solve the problem.
In a non sprayed garden with enough access to water and welcomed predators, spider mites aren't so much trouble.
I made a serious attempt to do ANYTHING but a lawn. Here are the issues-
No grass= erosion. This + weeds makes a dirt yard impossible.
If you want to 'farm' there is tremendous maintenance involved
Turf is expensive, but might have been a solution.
More concrete= hotter. This is bad for the environment.
So is the solution to let native plants grow all over your yard? We did this for 1 year, but my wife ended this.
Yes, but that doesn't mean you have no discretion or control over what is growing and how. The key is that you want to choose things that require no supplemental watering or nutrients like most non-native lawn grasses do.
Choose native grasses that are well-adapted to your climate. This may mean dormant / brown periods of the year, but this is perfectly natural. There is a mental hurdle to clear about an aesthetic that isn't going to be achieved.
There are many native ground covers that are also available, and many that flower to provide habitat and support for animals. Both these and grasses can be mowed to an acceptable height.
Wherever possible, put in native wildflowers or shrubs/trees. These sustain other life and they look amazing.
You'll have a nice little garden in a few seasons.
We're currently planting berry bushes, nuts and clover in large parts of our yard. It's fairly low-maintenance and as a bonus the clover is and excellent food source for our rabbits and chickens.
I had no issues with erosion. The plants lived for years and established rhizomes and extensive root systesms.
In my country(India) this is already a very big problem. Apart from the impact on insects, pests etc. Its also a big problem for Humans ourselves. There have been villages full of people with cancer. In fact there are even trains going from villages to cities, name like cancer trains.
Apparently this all had to be done, to tackle India's growing population problem.
One more thing that no body is talking about in this case. Over population of earth, and effects it's causing on resources we humans consume. That's beyond all that Carbon we venting it in the air.
How long before we see some big problems(famines, food shortages) showing up?
I live in FL and am required by my HOA to maintain my St Augustine lawn. Costs me $115 for maintenance (large corner lot), $45 a month for fertilizer and lawn pest maintenance, and another $100 every 3 months for pest control perimeter around my house. For what? A toxic lawn I barely use.
Been a big fan of reading on permaculture lately. I'm hoping shit hits the fan enough that I can just convert my lawn one day into a food forest. Considering moving further into the outskirts so I can have more freedom with my yard.
Every bag of the stuff says, "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling." Sounds like regulation to me. You don't have to ask permission to put it on your lawn, but you've got plenty of rope to hang yourself with a warning label like that.
> I had a small native plant yard that attracted hundreds of pollinators and arachnids. I was treated like and criminal forced to cut most of it down.
This is a shame. Native yards much more beneficial than monospecies turf everywhere.
I meant in terms of application. I did try to find ordinances on this at the state and municipal level. They may exist, but even so is there any oversight?
What does a lawn need herbicides for anyway? You’re not trying to macimize yield ...
Another question is what does that label say. Is it “Don’t spray in eyes” or something like “Don’t use more than X per square foot” or even something cool like “Only for agricultural use where actual crops are grown”
One being “the act of controlling or supervising”. If you define regulation as the act of making rules? Then yeah there’s not much to talk about.
But if we’re talking about controlling, throttling, or supervising, we aren’t seeing much of that.
I'd be curious to see data and analysis on lawn carbon footprint. For my lawn, everything I've been able to find suggests it is a negative carbon footprint.
I don't put any chemicals or fertilizer on it, so no carbon impact either way there.
I do not water it, so nothing either way there, either.
I do mow during the summer, with a gas powered push mower. The total gas used per year is under 1 gallon. Let's go with 1 gallon, although it is probably actually closer to around 0.6 or 0.7. A few different results on Google tell me that this will result in about 17 pounds or 8 kg of CO2 emission per year.
I haven't found much on how much CO2 a lawn can take out. What I have found was always about "well-managed" lawns, in a context where "well-managed" meant a lawn that is heavily watered, fertilized, and mowed. Those sequester almost 1000 pounds of carbon per acre per year. Note that was carbon, not CO2. That would be around 3400 pounds of CO2.
But you'd only get 3400 pounds of CO2 a year per acre if you are keeping the lawn constantly growing (hence the "well-managed" part), and the heavy watering, fertilizing, and mowing to do that will have have a high carbon cost.
My lot is about 1/5th acre, and my lawn only covers between 1/3 and 1/2 of it. Going with 1/3, then if my lawn were a "well-managed" (e.g., heavily watered, fertilized, mowed lawn), that would be about 230 pounds a year of CO2 reduction.
But it is not "well-managed", so I'm not getting maximum growth out of it. Still, as long as I'm getting at least around 8% of the growth a "well-managed" lawn would get, it looks like I'm coming out ahead, with the lawn sequestering more CO2 than the mowing produces.
My front lawn right now is full of daisies. I have been purposely not mowing sections of it, because they're covered in bees and I can't bring myself to leave them nothing! Anyway, like you, I put in zero chemicals, but that stuff still grows well above 8% of the chemical-fed grass a few houses down.
Our small backyard has a section where we let native plants grow. This year a handful of thistles were growing there, which attracted a few European goldfinches (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_goldfinch). Was really pleased to see them, first time I saw them in our area!
It saddens me that people consider a garden with thistles growing as 'messy', and prefer cultivated plants that need to be bought at a garden center. Plants native to the area will provide a much better habitat for local wildlife which results in a much more interesting garden, according to my definition of interesting :P
Originally in America these were often for racial discrimination. Doing so directly was outlawed, but doing so indirectly remains a major function of them.
I hate insects. They are often annoying and sometimes outright dangerous.
We live in the same Earth so we'll have to reconcile our points of view.
It's supposed to be a great progress in journalism to put people first and make stories relatable, but it's gone too far -- and it always sound the same.
Bugs population is in sharp decline, here are the numbers, here are what scientists think are the causes, and the possible consequences, and the possible remedies -- is what I want to read.
Sorry for the rant.
One thing I do enjoy are long form podcasts, because I can listen to them on the train or on long drives.
I couldn't agree more. I find wikipedia to be the most terse and to the point way of consuming information (that is still accessible for me as a non-scientist). It's not always as current as I'd like but it's better than this. It would be nice if journalism could go back to being journalism.
Actually, the New York Times is particularly bad about this - not only about gratuitous background but also about gratuitous attribution ... very common to see an inch of column preceded by over an inch of attribution of a quote or whatever.
I also find it very distracting and difficult to read.
If you're interested, the Financial Times is the opposite - very concise, very pointed and even restricts front page stories to only their front page space. You can read more deeper in the issue, but the front page item is a self contained story with no page jumps.
Give the facts up front. Lay out the situation. Root the people and the individuals in an important context. Then - maybe - we'll be interested in their lives.
News stories are often exhausting to read now, they require filtering out hypersensationalism and identifying what's fluff and what's not.
I personally wish more news was written like copy, and followed style guides focused on making information easy to find and consume.
To make a case for this particular instance, as others have mentioned, this is a magazine article, not a newspaper article, or a scientific publication. The article isn't _just_ about bug population in decline. There are a number of major and minor themes woven throughout. I feel like the narrative frame works to support that.
Additionally, as another commenter noted, this is a magazine article, not a news story. The format is intentionally different.
That said, I think I've noticed the elements that you complain about in more traditional news stories as well. I just think that they're more acceptable in this format.
On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests for many people telling an emotional story about someone they can emphasize with is the most effective way to change their opinion, and as such necessary for that audience.
When and why is this a thing? And why isn’t it more compelling or dense?
I've been complaining about this for a while. I can't stand it. And thank you for giving it that name, I was looking for something to call it.
It might be because it's harder for me to remember things as I get older, but if I learn something with additional context, it's more likely to stick.
from the article:
> For some scientists, the study created a moment of reckoning. “Scientists thought this data was too boring,” Dunn says. “But these people found it beautiful, and they loved it. They were the ones paying attention to Earth for all the rest of us.” [..] Amateurs have long provided much of the patchy knowledge we have about nature. Those bee and butterfly studies? Most depend on mass mobilizations of volunteers willing to walk transects and count insects, every two weeks or every year, year after year. [..] The Krefeld society is volunteer-run, and many members have other jobs in unrelated fields
They don't have anything pre-packaged, it's not so easy, your criticism of the article may be valid but overall your demands are unreasonable.
They are raising an alarm for people to do something. If people don't want to hear what the alarm is about because they want the thing that they need to help with to be already done for them we are in trouble. Don't just say what you want to read, ask yourself what you could write, maybe. Make the executive summary you want to see in the world, right?
As for the possible consequences and remedies:
> The world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction, warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief.
> Ahead of a key international conference to discuss the collapse of ecosystems, Cristiana Pașca Palmer said people in all countries need to put pressure on their governments to draw up ambitious global targets by 2020 to protect the insects, birds, plants and mammals that are vital for global food production, clean water and carbon sequestration.
> Numerous studies are revealing that Earth’s remaining wilderness areas are increasingly important buffers against the effects of climate change and other human impacts. But, so far, the contribution of intact ecosystems has not been an explicit target in any international policy framework, such as the United Nations’ Strategic Plan for Biodiversity or the Paris climate agreement.
> This must change if we are to prevent Earth’s intact ecosystems from disappearing completely.
Another commenter posted this:
> A new study finds that frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians in the U.S. are dying off so quickly that they could disappear from half of their habitats in the next 20 years. For some of the more endangered species, they could lose half of their habitats in as little as six years.
I'm no scientist, but I wouldn't be completely shocked by a connection between that and insect decline.
There's nothing wrong with that of course, just different modes. It's kind of akin to the difference between reading fiction and non-fiction. Some people just don't like reading fiction and vice-versa.
I like a slow, personable, factual, article like this. I get really bored if I read too many scientific journals, and this helps me actually relate to the data as a person.
I used to live in Olympia and would visit Kalaloch/Ruby Beach on a monthly basis - even camped there a couple weekends ago. There are seagulls(and Bald Eagles, and even Pelicans) all around there to this day. I even have photographic evidence(shot on a medium format toy camera right in front of Kalaloch Lodge earlier this year): https://i.imgur.com/hMwDuXs.jpg
I'm not sure what these birds' patterns are wrt to collecting food but a cursory dig in my photos shows that I've captured pictures of anywhere from a handful to hundreds of birds on this strip of coast on different occasions over the course of the last year and a half or so.
Seagulls still exist obviously, but there numbers are drastically smaller. As they are basically rats with wings, perhaps it's just better trash management, but the observation still stands.
I can't speak to the pacific northwest 30 years ago so I'll take your word for it that there were more birds on the coast then.
Here's my own photo evidence from South Beach in July 2017. https://photos.app.goo.gl/JzporX8XmFFswgSu8
I didn't go in 2018, but 2016 and 2017 I was there for about a week. same empty beaches both trips.
You being there in Nov may be why you see seagulls, I never have been there in winter.
I don't have any photos handy from the 1980's to scan, but it truly is a stark difference.
Edit: Actually, I regret being flippant with this. I find this development gravely troubling.
What would be more interesting is to see how the natural mammal biomass has changed.
Choke ourselves with CO2? Kill all the insects and the crops die off? (Maybe that was the disaster in _The Road_.) Something else even worse that we're currently fucking up, and don't even know it yet? Growing up, I thought it was going to be nuclear war, but I'm starting to think it will be not with a bang, but a whimper. But unfortunately, I can't flip to the last chapter. I just want to know how it ends. :-)
Your third link says that while increased CO2 in isolation makes plants grow faster, the negative effects that come with it would overwhelm any positive effects. Negative effects include drought, heat stress, invasive insects and disease, and increased forest fires.
It also says that for wild plants that don't get artificial fertilizer, availability of materials like nitrogen limits their growth regardless of CO2 availability.
Wow, that's a new perspective! Never looked at it this way. I've been pretty depressed about the whole climate situation. This attitude is a good way to cheer yourself up.
Unless you’re very elderly, I think there’s a good chance you will.
Even worst case global warming scenarios would just cull the population back a hundred years or so.
None of my neighbor's yards are remotely close to the biodiversity I have. My neighbors all spray for weed and mosquito control. If we mandated that a certain portion of our green spaces had to be reserved for insect and bird life, if we mandated a certain portion be meadows, basically, unsprayed, untreated, untouched, I think it'd go a long way to improving things.
The Anthropocene isn't going to last.
I live in the Great Lakes region. Every spring Fish Flys  would swarm over every exterior surface and especially congregate near light sources.
Some years were worse then others, and one particularly bad year I had to take a snow-shovel to clear the gas-station I worked at because the cars (and us workers) were slipping on the carpet that their bodies made. The piled-mass of bodies was as big as a snow-bank.
And other years would pass and I would hardly notice that the 'season' had come & gone.
FWIIW I noticed the lack of bugs mostly by noticing Spain seems to still have a lot of bugs sticking to the windshield (not so in Germany). Also the total lack of lightning bugs when I moved back to New England after two decades.
If I had to bet on one overriding cause of this, it's glyphosate.
I think the larger point being, the more chemicals we insert into the environment without a holistic understanding of their interactions and impact on various ecosystems, the more we run the risk of collateral damage.
That's not to say agricultural chemicals would not play a role in other geographic regions.
Edit: Improved English.
Global warming should be increasing insect metabolism and their populations.
I think it's very possible that we actually don't know what's happening, or if our solutions are making things worse as we try to engineer nature back to what we believe to be the "natural state." The only thing we can do is try to be as clean as possible, but I often wonder if what we find as solutions now are just going to cause massive problems in the future. There is no way to really tell.
This is the very first time we've run this experiment, and the experiment is ongoing.
In other words, there are and will continue to be enormous uncertainties about the details of what's ahead of us.
> if our solutions are making things worse as we try to engineer
As what one might call a 'climate change alarmist', going back a couple of decades now, I hear you and I don't necessarily disagree. I am far less eager to push forward with, for example, geoengineering and other grand responses than my fellow climate change 'true believers', simply because of how uncertain all of this is.
Having said that, we as a civilization need to increase all manner of related research 100x or 10,000x, as soon as possible.
In the same way that we have been forced to directly manage all kinds of natural resources because of our actions (for example: deer populations), so also will we be likely required to directly manage our atmosphere in various ways.
But we need to be really fucking careful about it.
"[A] 2014 review in Science tried to quantify these declines by synthesizing the findings of existing studies and found that a majority of monitored species were declining, on average by 45 percent."