Archives for February 2014

Everything is Related and Everything is Replicated

The founder of Rural System, reflecting on his experiences in Africa said Everything is Related when discussing the ripple effect that a singular event like an act of terrorism can have in an economy. Our human ecosystem, much like our environmental ecosystem, is linked by a complex web of interactions. Every “thing” has an effect on another “thing” somewhere in the system. Looking at the world through the eyes of an ecologist, this biological pattern is replicated in all aspects of life. Indeed it’s possible to draw valuable insights for non-biological fields from biological science. Perhaps the most recent compelling example is the comparison of global finance and primate social networks. As different as we are from animals, it’s clear that there are fundamental processes that remain the same. The world is one big, living organism.

World Travel

Traveling provides a unique perspective on land use and its associated challenges that aren’t comprehensible simply from reading. Observing the relationship between people and their surrounding environment provides context for our ideas and guides how we execute them.

[Read more…]

On Making Meth and Money

A version of this post first appeared on Handshake 2.0.

Living in a place is about much more than the land or weather. A place is most characterized by the people who live there and the communities they form. Rural communities are far removed from the constant happenings of big cities and are small, so things that happen within them affect everyone within the community. In rural areas across the United States we have seen increasing issues with drugs and addiction, particularly methamphetamine.meth and money

We at Rural System consider the health of rural communities to be integral to land health, tied as people are to the unique ecology of rural areas. Rural System is therefore very much concerned about the rise in addictions among rural populations, recognizing them as a problem of public health. It is more important than ever for all of us to understand addiction as a national community. [Read more…]

Crowdsourcing the Future: How Citizen Scientists and Mobile Technology are Changing the Face of Science

The possibilities of what can be done with “the internet” seem to grow exponentially with each passing year. We often think of what the internet can do for us, but what about what we can do for the internet? In the past few years, we’ve learned how to harness the immense power of all those connected minds online through crowdsourcing. If you aren’t familiar with the term crowdsourcing, it refers to leveraging the brainpower or manpower of large groups of people through the internet for services, ideas, or content. Think games and apps are a waste of time – think again! Scientists have cleverly designed apps, games, and websites which engage average citizens in scientific research. By gaming from your laptop on your couch or using an app on your smartphone on the bus, you could actually help find a cure for AIDS, save an endangered species, or help prevent a flu epidemic. Essentially, this is citizen science at its best. [Read more…]

The Pest Present and Future of Wildlife Management

So commonly we forget that humans are animals, part of an ecosystem just like any other life-form on the planet. Certainly you’ve noticed that when you step into your yard, you see squirrels hopping around and birds flitting from place to place, and really there is a whole menagerie of creatures you’ve grown used to seeing in your daily life. These are the animals that enjoy habitats quite similar to the landscapes we like to shape around our dwellings. In Ecology, we call them synanthropes. Unfortunately for us, some of these animals are so well-suited to our habitats that they become as (or more) populous as we are, and they can cause damages to property and structures if they aren’t managed.

Birds such as song sparrows can get trapped by our modern living. Licensed wildlife control professionals are hired to free them from stores and warehouses.

Birds such as song sparrows can get trapped by our modern living. Licensed wildlife control professionals are hired to free them from stores and warehouses.

[Read more…]