(Commenters complained that the last quiz was too easy. This one is not.)
In the St. Albans Township, outside of Alexandria, Ohio, Sarah Baker and her partner violated the local ordinance and stopped mowing their one acre of property. “A potpourri of plants began to flourish, and a rich assortment of insects and animals followed. I had essentially grown a working ecosystem, one that had been waiting for the chance to emerge,” she wrote in the Washington Post. The first time the couple tried this, they were fined a thousand dollars but capitulated and mowed their lawn. Now, though they have been found to turn their property into a “public nuisance” due to neglect, they are defying the town and certain that they are in the right. Baker writes in part:
” About 95 percent of the natural landscape in the lower 48 states has been developed into cities, suburbs and farmland. Meanwhile, the global population of vertebrate animals, from birds to fish, has been cut in half during the past four decades. Honey bees, on which we depend to pollinate our fruits and other crops, have been dying off at an unsustainable rate. Because one in three bites of food you take requires a pollinating insect to produce it, their rapid decline is a threat to humanity. Monarch butterflies have been even more affected, with their numbers dropping 90 percent since the 1990s. Butterflies are an important part of the food chain, so ecologists have long used them to measure the health of ecosystems.
Nature preserves and parks are not enough to fix the problem; much of wildlife is migratory and needs continuous habitat to thrive. Natural yards can act as bridges between the larger natural spaces…[M]aintaining a mowed and fertilized lawn also pollutes the air, water and soil. The emissions from lawnmowers and other garden equipment are responsible for more than 5 percent of urban air pollution. An hour of gas-powered lawn mowing produces as much pollution as four hours of driving a car. Americans use 800 million gallons of gas every year for lawn equipment, and 17 million gallons are spilled while refueling mowers — more than was leaked by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops, chemicals that can end up in drinking water and waterways…I’m not alone. Homeowners across the country have latched on to the natural lawn and “no mow” movement.
… If we allow ourselves to see a mowed lawn for what it is — a green desert that provides no food or shelter for wildlife — we can recondition ourselves to take pride in not mowing.”
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