How Knowing About the Carrying Capacity Can Help Your Animist Practice
It’s spring and people who stayed cozy and warm inside through the cold months are starting to venture back on the trails. Unfortunately that means more garbage is showing up outside. This is why it’s good to know about carrying capacity. A little knowledge can help us to be better at sharing our planet with others.
What is Carrying Capacity?
“Carrying capacity” is a biology term that refers to the number of creatures that an environment can sustain. Carrying capacity fluctuates as it is determined by the amount of food, water, oxygen, space, and sometimes weather. So what’s taken out and put into an environment needs to stay balanced if it is to maintain homeostasis. Here are some examples.
The soil contains nutrients, decomposers (worms, bacteria, fungi, etc.), water, air, and organic matter that can support plants. If the balance of any one of these things is off, our garden may not flourish. In fact, we may not have a garden at all because nothing will grow. The way to ensure that we have a rich and thriving garden each year is to make sure that we return the nutrients that we remove from the soil in the form of compost. This will also give the decomposers something to eat so that they stay healthy and vibrant.
Here is another example. When the settlers came to North America, there were plenty of wolves and deer. The settlers began killing the wolves to remove the threat to human lives and livestock. This created an explosion in the deer population. The deer began eating all the green plants they could find. This not only damaged the farmer’s crops putting their survival in jeopardy, it also resulted in the deer starving. So, when one part of the ecosystem is impacted, it creates a domino effect where others are also impacted.
Humans think we’re more clever than Nature. We do things like pipe water in from hundreds of miles away to raise the available water on the shore so that more people can have a beach side cottage. We use chemical fertilizers to improve crop yield instead of letting the land rest and composting. We kill weeds with herbicides to reduce improve yields and reduce labor costs. Things like this allow more humans to survive, but at what cost to the environment? How long can we sustain this?
Artificially inflating the carrying capacity is a temporary solution at best. Nature always finds a way to balance herself.
If you want to be a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem, think of small ways you can live in reciprocity with Nature.
Suggestions for Living in Reciprocity with Nature
- don’t litter. Pick up any that you find.
- reduce your consumerism. Much of what we buy ends up hoarded, unused, or in a landfill.
- eat locally raised, organic food or raise your own. This teaches you what goes in to food production and gives you a much more realistic view of its value
- raise bees. Create a butterfly or bee garden to help local creatures thrive.
- get rid of your lawn or go longer between cuttings. This creates diverse habitats.
- buy higher quality, organic, and ethically produced clothing that you wear longer (to keep costs down over time)
- make your own cleaning products. They are cheaper and nontoxic.
- make your own bath and body products or go toxin free.
- make your own medicines. Living a healthy lifestyle removes the need for expensive and toxic allopathic medicine.
- use electronic documents as much as possible.
- unplug things when they are not in use or install outlet shut off switches to conserve energy.
- switch from disposables to reusables, such as water bottles, lunch totes, and cloth napkins.
- I even hear of some people opting to adopt or foster children rather than having their own.
How are you contributing to the clean up and rebalancing of Earth’s carrying capacity?