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March 29, 2013

The Fate of Coastal Wetlands - Hard Over Soft.

Hard problems, hard thinking, hard edges: Might there be another way?

According to Peter Neil, Director of World Ocean Observatory,  our traditional approach to potential inundation by water has been the hard edge. It represents our cultural assumption that Nature is there to serve our needs and, when necessary, to be engineered to that advantage. 

The fate of coastal wetlands is a blatant example of hard over soft. Once massive buffers against storm incursion, wetlands served human needs additionally through complementary cultivation of hay for fodder for saltwater farms. But as those farms gave way to more concentrated settlement and sprawl, the marshes were first ditched to control pesky mosquitoes that annoyed suburban residents, a disruption of the natural arrangement that increased erosion and drained the buffer zone, followed thereafter by hard edges behind which could be deposited dredge spoils, construction debris, and other unnatural material that transformed the soft soil into hard ground on which could be constructed more housing, parking lots, shopping malls, and manufacturing plants -- all uses antithetical to Nature's original intent. 


You could describe a similar history for the destruction of coastal mangroves in other areas around the world.

Let us open our minds and understand other more natural answers to our problems that would serve us much better.

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