“Like many modern wonders, Chicago’s canal solved the problem it was engineered to solve—the city’s sewage crisis—but it did so by sending the consequences downstream, to the Mississippi Valley and, in unanticipated ways, to all of us. In hindsight, it looks less like a triumph of the heroic age of civil engineering than like a prologue to the chastening age we live in now, the epoch geologists have proposed calling the Anthropocene, the age of the sixth extinction. One cause of this extinction: the trade routes and flight paths and navigable waterways with which we stitched continents and basins together. Thanks to us, species that evolved in isolation now collide, at times with devastating effects on ecosystems.”
—From “Reverse Engineering,” Donovan Hohn's New York Times Magazine essay on removing manmade structures from American waterways to restore their natural characteristics
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