April 19, 2012
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir
This week, in honor of Earth Day, the Agency of Natural Resources will be issuing a report on the health of Vermont’s environment. What we learned from this report is: in nature, as in life, everything is connected.
In light of the devastating storms Vermont experienced last year, the theme of the report is “resilience.” Research shows that just like individuals and communities, ecosystems will recover from adversity best when the surrounding environment supports healing. For this reason, our report provides an assessment of where we are today. It identifies the biggest threats to Vermont’s environmental health and asks important questions about what we need to make our ecosystems and communities more resilient in the future. Here is some of what we found:
Climate change: During the past 50 years, Vermont’s climate has shown a clear warming trend in all seasons, and especially in winter. New climate patterns stress our ecosystems. For example, increases in rainfall and extreme weather events result in record flood levels. To become more resilient to future floods we must manage our floodplains to make room for the river, and we are using ANR’s emissions inventory to set goals for reducing Vermont’s greenhouse gas emissions and to track our progress.
Water quality: The health of our lakes is inextricably linked to the health and stability of our rivers and streams. Lake Champlain’s water quality suffered in 2011, because the heavy rains that fell in the spring of 2011 and during Tropical Storm Irene washed huge loads of phosphorus down rivers and streams into the lake. Our lake and river protection efforts must be linked. Increasing the stability of rivers and streams is essential for preventing severe damage to our lakes from future flooding.
Forest health: It is hard to overstate the value of Vermont’s forests to the health of our environment (not to mention to our economy and way of life.) This past year, Vermont’s forests helped to intercept many heavy downpours, slowing runoff into streams. Had there been fewer acres of healthy forests, the intense flooding and pollution from runoff would have been even worse. Trees also remove greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air and store it in their leaves, wood, and roots. To be resilient into the future Vermont must safeguard our forests from the threats of climate change, the spread of invasive species and the loss and fragmentation of forestland caused by development.
We have many assets for building resilience. Vermonters understand that not only is everything connected in nature but the quality of our environment is closely connected to the quality of our lives, the vigor of our economy, and to our health. We have a wealth of sound scientific information to help us understand the challenges we face and the steps we might take to meet them. And we have many dedicated environmental and community organizations working alongside us to address complex environmental problems.
I have great hope for our future. This Earth Day I ask that you join us every day, in our effort to ensure our environment remains resilient and healthy for this and future generations.
Source: Agency of Natural Resources
Last Updated at: April 19, 2012 08:13:40