Humans & Nature Can Co-Exist in “Cyborg” Ecosystems – Facts So Romantic

An illustration showing how dirt-filled PodMod containers would drift out of the Mississippi DeltaBradley Cantrell, Charlie Pruitt, Brennan Dedon, Rob Herkes

Some people gaze at the Mississippi River and see the majesty of nature: a mighty waterway that carved a path through our continent, draining the vast plains between the Rockies and the Appalachians before pouring out into the Gulf of Mexico. But not Bradley Cantrell. The landscape architect, who has spent much of the last decade studying the river watershed, sees the Mississippi as a prime example of our “purely synthetic world.”

Cantrell, now an associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, became fascinated with the river while teaching at Louisiana State University’s school of landscape architecture. He’s hardly the first to note that humans have reshaped the Mississippi with disastrous ecological consequences. The Army Corps of Engineers famously spent the last century squeezing the river between high levees to protect cities from flooding and preserve a deep navigation channel, thus ending the river’s periodic floods that spread rich mud across the delta. The result: the rapid disappearance of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands, which are disappearing a rate of one football field each hour as…
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