Be careful when defining 'sustainable' environment

Many good points are made in the article describing the fourth annual “Sustainable Delaware” conference held at the University of Delaware this week, as well as honoring Professor John M. Byrne, director of the University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy.

I do have a gripe with the over-use of the word “sustainable.” As an environmentalist and naturalist, “sustainable” means no net loss of environmental, or natural, elements. Every construction project extracts more than it replaces. No building today can, by itself, return more than it depletes. Period. Only through significantly improving the natural environment can we begin to come closer to a truly sustainable balance – we must first truly learn to overcome net environmental loss – with plants; yes, native P-L-A-N-T-S. So it is truly puzzling that this conference did not include presentations by Dr. Douglas Tallamy, department head of the Department of Entomology and Applied Ecology at the University.

Nor was there any mention made of the use of rooftop landscaping. And we all must accept the fact that each and every one of us is a plant parasite, and environmentally dependent with every breath we take and every vegetable and meat product we eat.

So as we go through each day using our extraneous distancing gadgets like iPhones, computers, automobiles and air conditioning/ heating, etc., please remember plants came long before us. Every plant is a miracle that eventually allowed your being, and mine.

Allan F. Ferver Jr., Earleville, Md.

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