Alex Palmer's Natural History Notes and Thoughts

Thoughts and reflections on various social and environmental issues, as well as naturalist observations from the great outdoors.

human ecology: in memory of Bjorn Norgaard.

Hugging trees and eating dirt are sometimes the crude stereotypes of environmentalists.  However, I make a point that environmentalists are hard working people who care about a great number of things that are practical and important, as outlined in an earlier blog post of mine.  In this post, I’d like to tell you about a person who I feel makes a great environmentalist.

This person was different from myself in that his focus was centered on human ecology, a study and practice that revolves around sustainable community development, permaculture, renewable energy, and recycling.  Human ecologists attempt to find ways in which people can live sustainable in the environment specific to whichever culture that person is dealing with.  It is often more people-centered, rather than being primarily concerned with ecosystem conservation and natural resources management (although it includes elements of these in its core philosophy).

This individual captured the essence of a human ecologist.    He was a cheerful, spirited person, and had a work ethic strongly geared towards community happiness.  He was an unrelenting advocate of renewable energy sources, and he always supported local organic farmers while fighting off the big “special interest” corporations from polluting our environment.   Most of all, he found ways to get everybody to have a great time.   Environmental issues always seem to appear negative, but this person was able to pull together the optimists and pessimists and “chat it up” with them over a beer next to a bonfire.    It is these core personality traits that make up part of the reason that I got into this sort of career in the first place.  Yes, that’s correct.  This is not just about naming or studying a bunch of plants and animals.  It’s about us and our natural heritage and our connection to the earth…and ultimately each other.

On a cold night in February 2011, Bjorn Norgaard left behind many saddened faces.  But he also left behind rekindled spirits, realistic optimism, and a cheerfulness and compassion that will be remembered in his loved one’s hearts for the rest of their lives.

People like Bjorn are one of the reasons I geek out on nature and the environment:  Tt’s fun, it’s good work, and despite all the treachery, it’s important to once in a while to take it easy and have a good time along the way.


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