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February 10, 2010

Winner of the Japan Prize for Scientific Research a Nature Lover

Filed under: Energy/Green Technology — sketchcorner @ 10:24 pm

I just returned from the big island of Hawaii (wow some great real estate over there) and time to get blogging. Peter Vitousek, who was just awared the Japan prize, was a hiker and nature lover when he was young, but he did not enter into his career in biological or environmental sciences. He first earned a degree in political science at Amherst College (Mass.). It was at there that he read the work of ground-breaking ecologist Charles Elton. Elton’s book “The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants” was the inspiration for Vitousek to study the ecological impact of human activity on the natural world.
After earning a doctorate in biological sciences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Vitousek joined the faculty at Stanford University. Previously he had been at Indiana University and the University of North Carolina.
Vitousek lives a few months a year in Hawai’i. He does research in ecosystems at Volcanoes National Park and other sites. The research he has done on biogeochemical cycles included the wide-ranging study of Hawaiian ecosystems. He has gained revolutionary knowledge of how human activity can negatively impact delicate ecosystems. His study of how increased levels of reactive nitrogen due to the use of fertilizers have disrupted forest and ocean ecosystems is well known in the scientific community.
Time Magazine named Vitousek in its 2001 list of “America’s Best Scientists.” His work has been shown to be significant to efforts to help sustainability.
Vitousek has been quoted as saying, “It’s a matter of understanding how the world is changed by our activities and perhaps getting the impetus to reduce our footprint. The things I work on are clearly linked to agriculture, but it’s not a matter of not doing it (but being) more efficient so we can use less to get the same food production.”
Vitousek said his work shoes the wisdom of the sustainable agricultural systems used by ancient Hawaiians who produced food in an efficient, sustainable way.
Traditional Hawaiian practices of land distribution and agricultural organization employed large crescent tracts, ahupua’a, that extended from the ocean to mountains and supplied water for each sub-community’s farmland. It has been well-regarded by believers in the modern sustainability movement as an example of efficient and gentle human interaction with the land. Speaking of land, if you are in search of Big Island Real Estate then I can certainly suggest this fine resource as they are among the best firms handling real estate on Hawaii’s beautiful big island, so check them out. This regard for the manner in which Native Hawaiians conducted agricultural activity is a relatively recent development, one that has become more significant as estimates of ancient Hawaiian populations have been shown to be larger than previously imagined.
Vitousek has been quoted as saying

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