Building a world of
resilient communities.

MAIN LIST

 

Biodiversity: peak nature?

BIODIVERSITY: Peak Nature? by Stephanie Mills

EXCERPT:

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. —Aldo Leopol

Over the vast spans of geologic time much of Earth’s surface has been bared and flooded, dried out and iced over. But since life first appeared in the form of bacterial cells 3.9 billion years ago, it has been proliferating, evolving, adapting, and diversifying (or succumbing amidst all these changes).

Nearly 4 billion years’ worth of trial and error, calamity, extinction, coevolution, and symbiosis have produced biodiversity: the phenomenal multitude of species on Earth. It’s estimated that between fifty million and one hundred million different kinds of microbes, fungi, plants, and animals make up this wild richness of life. Just a single hectare of Atlantic Coastal Rainforest may harbor as many as 450 species of trees, to say nothing of its f lowers, insects, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

Moreover, diversity begets diversity—it’s a cumulative process.

Earth’s current biota may in fact be richer than ever before because over hundreds of thousands of years, the evolution of species has, on average, exceeded extinction rates.

Evolution is the process by which species diversify and descend from other ancestral organisms. Over time, populations of different organisms adapt and flourish in their niches. Natural selection preserves the traits that help species flourish. A critter whose chance markings provide better camouf lage in its native environment, for instance, is likelier to survive to produce offspring that may bear those traits forward. Eyes, noses, claws, fins, tentacles, pigments, scales, leaves, buds, needles, pheromones, gestation, metamorphosis, and sensation are among evolution’s countless feats. Geographic isolation combined with successful reproduction can eventually give rise to new species, organisms different enough from their precursors that they cannot interbreed.

Post Carbon Reader cover

About The Post Carbon Reader

 

How do population, water, energy, food, and climate issues impact one another? What can we do to address one problem without making the others worse? The Post Carbon Reader features essays by some of the world’s most provocative thinkers on the key issues shaping our new century, from renewable energy and urban agriculture to social justice and community resilience. This insightful collection takes a hard-nosed look at the interconnected threats of our global sustainability quandary and presents some of the most promising responses.

 

Contributors to The Post Carbon Reader are some of the world's leading sustainability thinkers, including Bill McKibben, Richard Heinberg, Stephanie Mills, David Orr, Wes Jackson, Erika Allen, Gloria Flora, and dozens more.

Editorial Notes: Stephanie Mills is a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.

Take action!  

Find out more about Community Resilience. See our COMMUNITIES page
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.

 

This is a community site and the discussion is moderated. The rules in brief: no personal abuse and no climate denial. Complete Guidelines.


Will Climate Chaos Reign in the Anthropocene?

“Far from being self-stabilizing, the Earth’s climate system is …

The Mystery of the Missing Carbon

It’s a whodunit with huge consequences for life on Earth.

Defra Reports Reveals Extent of Impacts on People Living near Fracking Wells

People that live near fracking sites could be affected by health problems …

Supreme Court Rejects Argument to Dismiss Landmark Fracking Case

The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected a motion by the country's most …

The Limits to Growth and Greece: Systemic or Financial collapse?

But, could it be that all the financial circus that we are seeing dancing in …

Earthcare, Literally Speaking

Humans often “speak to” nature, as when we assume a dominant …

The gift of clear mind: Laudato Si'

We cannot begin to say how refreshing it is to see Pope Francis face the …