Environmental Protection and Urban Development Can Go Hand in Hand

Environmental Protection and Urban Development Can Go Hand in Hand

Environmental Protection and Urban Development Can Go Hand in Hand

Whether you like to fish, garden, or just dig in the dirt, you’ve undoubtedly bumped into the nightcrawler. This worm seems like a ubiquitous part of life for us, but it is not native to North America. The nightcrawler was a passenger on European ships that landed in Virginia, packed along with the all-important tobacco cargo. Like the earthworm, much of what makes up our ecology today is not native. 17th-century European settlers in Virginia, for instance, found that the land and ecology were completely unfit for their styles of agriculture and settlement. But over time, invasive and native blended to create a new ecology.

Invasive species from Europe, including the earthworm, European tobacco, and hundreds of plant species were integrated into the landscape. Farm animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, and hogs, were introduced. Over time, these species began to take hold; and the ecology that sustained natives slowly changed to ecology that sustained settlers.

The same process will continue to evolve. In urban environments, introduced species will find their way, just as native species will continue to evolve. All of the flora and fauna integrate to create a new ecology with greater human character than would exist outside of the urban environment. In other words, humans become part of the ecology as it evolves, and they evolve with it.

We cannot unsettle North America or keep the earthworm from digging its way into the soil. What we can do is acknowledge that change occurs, and, even if human-caused, it does not have to have negative impacts. Good can come from a continually evolving ecology. Protecting the environment does not have to demonize development or change. We evolve; we adapt.

Richard Vermeulen - Construction Economist for Green Building

Richard Vermeulen is the construction economist creating profitable sustainability in the built environment. He’s the founder of GreenLight™, author of Green at No Cost, and developer of the Total Benefit Analysis and The Value Process as well as co-CEO, lead economist, and chief estimator for Vermeulens. Richard has developed industry-leading standards for estimating and data-basing complex construction projects throughout North America. In addition to consulting for thousands of major projects over 30 years, Richard has designed and built residential and commercial projects, from hammering nails to hound-dogging bureaucracies. He has traveled extensively, always with an awareness of how cities do and don’t work.

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