Forests and Us

When environmentalists were defending the spotted owl in the old growth forest, some people questioned what was more important, people or an owl. I suggest we consider the ecosystem instead.

GB Heron

Lilibeth Andre, GB Heron, colored pencil, 9×12

An ecosystem is an orchestrated community of organisms that function together to generate and sustain life. When one element is altered, the chain reaction affects all other members of this community.

Humans have protected themselves from these reactions in some ways by living in conditioned environments. This conditioning buffers alterations and their effects although in some cases, we fail to see the connection to existing impact.

If drastic changes occur then the imbalance creates bigger and more drastic adjustments. Some of the impact may not be observed in our area but the effects can be irreversible, at least in our lifetime.

As consumers we need to look at this pattern and see how much of this conditioning of our environment is truly necessary and how much is mostly summed up as waste to the immediate peril of some important creatures. In the case of the rainforest and deforestation, some groups felt it was important enough to defend the environment and began to help others put things into perspective through a campaign that invited Barbie and Ken to consider the impact.

Logging and consequential deforestation in itself are not the only effects. The loss of an important carbon capture sink is probably the more important aspect of the forest that goes unnoticed and can affect the rest of the world, not just the loss of wild animal habitat in that forest.

So let’s begin to look at things wholistically, not just in a singular way. Nature operates in an encompassing manner and as human beings we are a part of the ecosystem we live in. Let’s work to maintain the balance in what we give and take, for we forget we are a part of nature.

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