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Re: the future is wild, review



----- Original Message -----
From: "Cliff Green" <dinonaut@emerytelcom.net>
To: "dinosaur mailing list" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 12:57 PM
Subject: Re: the future is wild, review


>
> > reaches, nearly all of the Galápagos Is., and many other albeit remote
> > places on the planet.
>
> Dear Jaime, Rita and List,
>
>     I am going to have to agree with Rita on this one. For the record, The
> Galapagos islands were raped for hundreds of years before conservation
> efforts were set in place to preserve the harshly depleted ecosystem
there.
> More than half of the giant tortoise species along with many birds and
other
> native species were wiped out by man's interference.
>     If you want more information, try David Quemmin's "Song of the Dodo".
> This is a beautifully written book on island decay and modern attempts at
> conservation. Oh, and dinosaurs are cool.
>
> Cliff Green

Thanks Cliff. Whenever somebody mentions conservation, I like to remind them
that "conservation" attempts (some more successful than others but none due
to non-interference by humans) have only been going on for 150 years.
Previous to that, we humans believed, and many still believe, that we "own"
this planet. It's that whole "Go forth and multiply and subdue the earth"
mentality. Well, we did that and now some people are desperately trying to
UNDO it -- but their very attempts to interfere farther in the ecosystems of
earth are causing damage because we have not the slightest clue what we are
doing.

Here's a good example:

Humans don't like mosquitos. They carry diseases that kill us and they are
annoying. We find them disgusting, too. So, the main way of dealing with
this disease-carrying critter is to use petroleum to kill them. We spread
oil on standing water ponds and other places where mosquitos breed. Another
way of dealing with them is to use insecticides.

There are species, however, that love mosquitos. Frogs, birds and many other
kinds of critters eat mosquitos. In fact, that's pretty much all they eat.
These species are going extinct because we have killed off their food
source. The few that have evolved to eat other things because of OUR
efforts, have begun eating bees and other beneficial insects.

Can you see the problems with this? They are many and sundry. First off, we
poison standing water pools to kill the mosquitos and this kills off the
very species that might have eaten the mosquitos. Once the mosquitos are all
gone, still other species either die or evolve as a result of our killing
their food supply. Consequently, all the species that eat those creatures
must either die or evolve.

There is a kind of bird that used to live entirely on mosquitos but now must
survive by eating bees and other small insects -- and the result of that is
that many plants are dying due to lack of pollination -- effecting yet more
species with death or evolution.

It is a tangled web we weave when we practice to mess with evolution.

Now, you might say, "Well, who cares about a few birds or frogs or fish?"
We'd BETTER care. If we thought mosquitos were good disease carriers, wait
until we see what replaces them in the ecosystem! We don't even know the
vectors of some diseases like certain hemorrhagic fevers that make our old
enemy, malaria, look like a holiday by comparison. One theory has it that
birds which now eat bees which carry these deadly viruses (because there are
fewer mosquitos to eat) are now far more widely effecting OUR health by
being able to fly over distant places and spread disease to each other and
to us.

So, shall we kill every bird we see? How about all the bees? If we do, what
is going to be there to pollinate our crops, to spread seeds in their fecal
matter as birds do?

It's a mess and I'm not quite sure what to do about it. Neither is anyone
else.

Rita