From: Glen Barry, Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published October 24, 2013 04:41 PM

Ecology: Life's Connections

Ultimately, all humanity and all life have is the biosphere, the thin layer of life just above and below Earth’s surface, composed of ancient, miraculously evolved natural ecosystems. The natural Earth is a marvel - a complex coupling of species within ecosystems, whereby life begets life.

 

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Ecology is far more than the study of life and its environment. The word is used here as a synonym for ecosystems - the vibrant connections that emerge between species across scales, which cumulatively make life on Earth possible.

Nature is far, far more than pretty plants and animals. Ecosystems make Earth habitable, providing water, food, air, shelter, and more - everything that we need and desire to live well. In naturally evolved ecosystems, from genes to individual organisms and species, to ecosystems and everything else in between, each living being present fulfills a niche, which sustains itself, its neighbors, and the whole.

All species uniquely express evolutionary brilliance and have a purpose, a reason for being, a right to exist, and are necessary to maintain life’s full potential. From the lowly worm to soaring eagles, to the human race - all naturally evolved life has value and relies upon all the rest. Even seemingly noxious disease organisms and man-eating predators have a role to play in maintaining ecological balance.

The Earth as a whole is a living organism, similar biologically to a cell, plant, animal, or ecosystem. Without large intact ecosystems, Earth becomes uninhabitable. Yet sadly, she is being murdered by industrial human growth at the expense of ecosystems. Past certain planetary boundary conditions, like any life, Earth can die.

The vibrant mélange of life found in natural ecosystems is godlike in its all-embracing nurturing. Ecology is the meaning of life.

Ecosystem Collapse

Humankind’s demand for resources and growth overwhelms nature, our steady diminishment of ecosystems abruptly changes climate, and this is collapsing the biosphere. Global ecosystems - water, air, food, forests, oceans, wetlands, and more - are collapsing and dying under the burden of human industrial and population growth.

Human destruction of natural ecosystems and disintegrating climatic integrity are already past critical thresholds. Humanity (meaning each of us) can’t dump filth into air, defecate into water, kill and diminish natural vegetation, plunder oceans, and expect a habitable Earth and decent lives.

Read more at ENN affiliate, Ecologist.

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