Saturday, March 19, 2016

Do we really affect the ecosystem?

Of course.  In any closed system, everything affects everything.
... the giraffes are happy   

Want an example?

The wildebeest population is booming!
  • Giraffes on the Serengeti are flourishing in greater numbers these days.
  • That's because the acacia trees they feed on are spreading in greater numbers.
  • That's because the fires that would normally consume the acacia seedlings have declined.
  • That's because the grasslands that would burn have been kept short by grazing.
  • That's because the wildebeest population has increased from 200k to 1.4m.
  • That's because the rinderpest (cattle-plague) virus has been ended worldwide.
  • That's because it was killing our cows, so we developed a vaccine and spent decades on eradication.

Human intervention.  We were just tending to our cows; we didn't know the broader impact it would have.

Another example?

  • Along the 1200 mile coastline for Africa's Gulf of Guinea, folks have a hard time getting enough to eat; a balanced diet is difficult, but it used to be easier.
  • That's because there used to be plenty of fish in the coastal waters, and fishermen could do well close to home, but not now.
  • That's because fish populations are down about 90% in recent decades, and fishermen now have to go far offshore to catch anything worth the effort involved.
  • That's because of pollution from the Niger Delta oil fields and pipelines.  Most of the fish worth eating are gone and the indigenous fisherman are going hungry along with their families.
  • That's because the oil industry in Nigeria is corrupt enough and poorly managed enough to spill as much oil as the Exxon Valdez into the gulf.  Every year.  For fifty years.
  • That's because folks care more about oil and money than about people starving to death, apparently.  BP Shell and their customers and partners are doing that still today.  Nuts.
  • Illegal overfishing (IUU) by boats from China, Japan, and others is devastating as well.  If both problems were resolved, recovery would still take a century or more.  About 40% of the region's families depend on fishing for survival.

Bright, hardworking people, they struggle against
local and international policies that favor the
wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

On the Gulf of Guinea are the countries of
Ghana, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea,
Gabon, and the island nation of Sao Tome & Principe.
Annobón Island at the gulf's southern extreme
Our friends live there, and we've seen it up close.  About 25% of the children are undernourished, underweight and under height for age (stunted); they'll have health problems for the rest of their lives.  Working with local agencies, we're attempting to help families rise above the maze of neglect and disenfranchisement in which they have lived for centuries.

Everything affects everything.  In case there was any question.

And the glaciers are melting.

More science insights that will probably have worldwide impact are available in The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters by Sean Carroll

No comments: