Monday, July 8, 2013
Today, we met with Dr. Brack Hall, Associate Professor and co-director of the Sustainability Institute of Franklin College Switzerland. We got the chance to learn about and visit a local lake near Lugano that has been severely polluted through the years. What has occurred is termed eutrophication, or the excessive richness of nutrients in the water. Rather than promoting life, this condition does the inverse. These nutrients facilitate algae blooms, causing light to be blocked from entering the lake, which in turn limits oxygen production and can cause mass fish deaths. This is evident when hundreds of fish float to the surface of the lake, filling the surrounding air with the stench of rotting fish. As if this image was not unappealing enough, consider what made all of this happen in the first place: the emptying of raw sewage into the lake.
While some restoration has been done at the lake, it is incredible to consider that in this day and age, in a country as environmentally forward thinking as Switzerland and with people aware of the causes of this situation, that these poor conditions continue to exist. In many ways the decline of this lake and the lack of a full-scale response is a microcosm of the challenges we face in a sustainable world.
All living systems live in a delicate balance. In many ways the body’s ability to maintain this balance, known as homeostasis, is a perfect example for the global community to follow as we work to live in a sustainable manner. As the body has mechanisms for monitoring and altering its internal conditions, it is necessary for humans to oversee and properly alter the conditions of our surroundings. Thanks to the work of people like Brack Hale, who closely monitor our environment’s conditions, the lakes in Ticino and the approximately 302 million lakes around the world are closer to being able to maintain their balanced conditions and operate as healthy ecosystems.
Guest contributor: Michael Maynard