" />
Building a world of
resilient communities.

MAIN LIST

 

Biodiversity: peak nature?


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.

Read the full report:

»  Download the PDF (1 MB)

From the Post Carbon Institute/Watershed Media Book:

Post Carbon Reader cover

The Post Carbon Reader

Managing the 21st Century’s Sustainability Crises

Edited by Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch

Overview

Table of Contents

Content available for download

Order the book

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.

Published by Watershed Media, October 2010

552 pages, 6 x 9“, 4 b/w photographs, 26 line illustrations

$21.95 paper 978-0-9709500-6-2

 

Like this report?

Keep the information flowing: Donate to Post Carbon Institute

Stay connected: Receive our monthly e-newsletter

Reposting: See our reposting policy

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!  

Make connections via our GROUPS page.
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.


As Americans flee suburbs, big cities aren't their only alternative

Something historic happened in America after the housing crash. For the …

Why politicians are unwilling to cut transport emissions

Transportation continues to generate a large proportion of emissions …

Resilience Roundup - Aug 28

A roundup of the news, views and ideas from the main stream press and the …

Dark Age America: The Population Implosion

For millennia to come, the peoples of North America will have to contend …

Bike Sharing: Safer than your own bike

Last year, as New York City prepared to launch bike-share program Citi Bike, …

As the bees go, so goes the world?

It is as simple as this - when the bees lose, we lose, and that is the road …

Activism and Integrity

Truth be told, my goal here is not to belittle Bill McKibben, nor is it to …