The TED.com talk in the video below is mostly about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has devastated the bee population in recent years. However, it had one stunning environmental fact on the side that applied to many of us where we can do something about it
5% of America’s greenhouse gases (GHGs) are produced from mowing lawns!
Now, the speaker, Dennis vanEngelsdorp did not say “America”, but the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seems to back that up. The US EPA suggests 5-10%, but includes other gardening equipment with it. However, I think Dennis was just stating the process of releasing GHGs from within the grass in cutting it! Either way, America meeting its Kyoto Protocol targets might be made a lot easier with just a stop mowing your lawn campaign.
Think about that one!
To put the 5% into context, purely in terms of percentage share and not volume because I tend to have world figures rather than American figures:
- All of tourism (airlines & accommodations) accounts for 4-6%
- The aviation industry only contributed 2%.
That is, on a fraction of total share basis, lawn mowing in America contributes more to its GHG output than air travel does to the world output. Why are we worried about flying when lawns are doing so much more climate damage???
So what does Dennis suggest to replace lawns with? Meadows or a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants (grassland). In plainer terms, just let the grass and flowers, some of which you might consider weeds, grow. It’s a lot less maintenance, although you can still do some, and can help some wildlife thrive… not the least of which would be flowers and bees. And you know what? It’d also look a lot more natural, which brings me to the puzzling questions of why North Americans like their country cottages so much but work so hard and pour so much money to make their city homes look so artificial with useless biosystems like lawns?
I’ve never figured that one out. It’s a bit like being prejudiced towards brown people but always wanting to get tanned. I’ll write about that one some time soon! Paradox or hypocrisy?
Anyhow, the thought to make meadows instead of lawns is a great one. It is also just in time for preparation of spring and summer when people come outside again and start preparing our lawns. Lose your Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) this year and work with Mother Nature for once, eh?
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.5