You can't

trust your eyes...

...when your imagination is out of focus (paraphrased from Mark Twain). Einstein put it this way: "Imagination is more important than knowledge, For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.

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Imagination...& Reality

What keeps life interesting is staying curious, continuing to learn something new every day, and being imaginative in the face of reality. To live is to learn. When we stop learning, we die.

Every day is, simply, a fresh chance to learn something new. The best way to learn anything is through direct experience. Tell someone a fact or idea and that factoid will go in one ear and out the other, ask them to read it and it may embed the content in short-term memory, but get them to do something and the fact or idea behind the doing will be retained for the rest of their life.

Someone who is curious or imaginative has a genuine desire to learn. My role, as teacher/consultant/contrator, is that of a guide, someone to show others the path, to be a resource that helps clients to learn to ask the right questions. Consulting is really just a form of directed research and research, too, is a learning experience for the curious and imaginative.

We pose questions, observe, hypothesize, experiment, observe some more, refine our questions, and eventually—through successive iterations of (hopefully) positive feedback, always assuming we’ve asked the “right” question—we obtain some answer. Of course, that answer often leads to other questions (but that’s the nature of ecology—if you think you’re done, then you’re not doing ecology). The point is that, despite whether you consider it research or consulting, it is simply teaching oneself through experiential processes, i.e. learning.

Thus, consultng and research are not separate entities but co-exist under a single operating premise: what will I learn today? Asking questions (who, what, when, where and why) is what science is about. The first four are trivial and, at most times, simple to answer through observation and brief study. The hard questions are always “why?” and often involve in-depth observation, experimentation, perturbation of variables/systems and the interpretation of results. “Why?” questions are what keep science (and life!) interesting.

So, what will you learn today?

Science & Vision...

Real advances in science, not the seemingly endless daily discoveries of everyday press releases but real ground-shaking change, comes from the visionaries that are generalists. These are the people that are able to connect disparate facts or sciences, bring concerted attention to bear on common problems, and generate new ideas that answer questions we didn't even know we should ask.

Specialists, on the other hand, are too often reductio ad absurbum scientists who study, single-mindedly, phenomena on such a minute scale that if you ask them what organism they're studying, or why what they're doing should matter to the world, they simply can't tell you. Are they lacking vision? Or is it just curious occupational myopia?

From my point of view, great advances come from the researchers that are able to integrate miscellaneous factoids into a coherent whole. In other words, constructing a forest from trees, soil, topography, geography, chemistry & physics!

Ecology is, without doubt, a field for generalists who must be "jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none." But we learn more about how the world works, and about the things that really matter, from ecology.

Wilderness Management?

I've always considered the definition of "wilderness" to be the absence of the effects of humankind. Of course, at this point, no such place exists (since we insist on thoughtless global changes that are totally irreconcilable with "wild" lands). But given the mostly-untouched lands that remain, how can "management" be reconciled with a "hands-off" definition of wilderness?

In my opinion, we humans have had such profound effects on the world around us that we have a duty, a moral imperative, to not only preserve what is left to us, regardless of the reasons one might have for preservation, but to ensure that that preservation does no further harm. Unfortunately, that's no longer possible without some interference.

A monumental task? Of course it is. But, as we unknowingly made tiny incremental (and many not so tiny) changes to the world, so can we knowingly make tiny incremental (and some not so tiny) changes to how we live and interact with the world now, to effect long-term change.

How about beginning with the R's? Too many people seem to forget that there's an order to them. In case you've forgotten, it's reduce, reuse, and finally, if reduction and reuse are not possible, recycle. It's easy...