Lawn People

Perhaps the most astounding thing about reading this book was realizing how the “lawn culture” has altered Americans’ perception of the outdoors. Nature is chaotic; but at the same time, harmonious. What looks like a tangled mess of weeds and rotting logs on the bottom of the forest is actually a precisely balanced ecosystem. As the author shows, especially in Chapter 3, is that “lawn people” desire a product that is the exact opposite: an area that appears uniform but is in fact dangerously out of balance. It is incredibly fortunate that a “perfect” lawn grass does not exist – such a plant would quickly propogate throughout the continent and destory all other plant life. Plants and animals keep other in check through competition for resources. The particular balance that arises depends on the starting conditions: the terrain, soil quality, weather, etc. However, humans have complete disregard for this natural process: we like to have what we want, regardless of what is there already.

Chapter 4 was particularly interesting to me as a chemistry major, and frightening. My logic goes like this: if we are taking an action that is possibly harmful to the Earth and ourselves, and definitely not good for either, why do we need proof to stop? (I use the same argument with emissions and global warming). Lawn chemicals, are, at the very best, merely not harmful to humans or the environment. If the best possible result from using something is not doing harm, does it really make sense to keep using it?!? I think in the end this flawed reasoning is the result of group psychology, something I am not particularly well-versed in. Robbins points this out in Chapter 6 – “intensive lawn management tends to cluster.” Stop being a sheep!!

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