Swamp and Circumstance

Planners hope the Natural System Model can help restore the Everglades. But will it survive politics?

"One of the [problems] is that when you look at a graphic like that, it's too damn good in a way," muses Dan Cary. "They did too good a job graphically and there is a little bit of an illusion that we have some magical knowledge that is very precise about how this system works, when in fact the reasons these models were developed was to get broad-brush ideas. We have to remind ourselves that we are missing a lot of important stuff."

As those who would restore the Everglades stumble along on their path, the world is watching. Obeysekera says tour groups of scientists from Japan and Europe often visit to learn about the efforts of the modelers. They hope to take home with them lessons on how to restore their own flagging ecosystems.

"Basically we have screwed up the world all over the place and we are finding out that it is a lot harder to put things back together than it was to take them apart," Cary continues. "I honestly believe there is a solution that everyone can live with.

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