Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ceballos and Ehrlich (2009) reflection

Two things hit me from this paper (PNAS 166: 3841 - 3846):

1.) "our results suggest that many more unheralded organisms in all groups have likely recently gone extinct without being noticed. That implies that levels if species extinction have been grossly underestimated." I had to reflect on this. It make sense. How are we to know what is all out there? Just like sampling regimes, I cannot know every insects that is in my prairies, that would take too much time and effort. So, one must have to expect that he/she will underestimate extinction rate.

2.) "It is also crucial that the number and diversity of populations - many of which are clearly more genetically and ecologically differentiated that previously thought - and the ecosystem services they provide, also be preserved and, where possible, restored." Yes, it is crucial to have more diverse systems so that ecosystems to function properly.

So, what I got from paper, was not on ecosystem services that organism can supply us, but on conservation. This is one reason that I really enjoy this paper, because they did not focus of the need of diverse ecosystems to serve us. This is what we need to focus on (basically because humans are already greedy enough). What need to be talked aboot is for the greater good of the ecosystem, for all organisms to be able function properly, not for our individual needs. What scientist need to be focused on, and already has is one sense or another, is how each species is critical for the correct functioning of the ecosystem. What is the fail of this paper is the use of the word "ecosyetem services" because it did not have much of an emphasis in this paper.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reflecting on "Living Beyond Our Means"

The MA (http://www.maweb.org/documents/document.429.aspx.pdf) has done a thorough job at pointing out the consequences of ecosystem change in the need to supply, what seems to be perceived as an "endless" supply of resources, to fit the demands for food, fresh water, fiber, and energy. The problem falls in two parts on the shoulders of humans. Firstly, the thought that these resources are thought to be limitless, and secondly, the exponential growth in human population.

How can the need for fresh water and food be met when it is projected that our population is to double in the next fifty years? Imagine, twelve billion people on earth by 2060. Even the essentials will be hard to come by especially since we completely rely on the services that nature provide. But it is hard for a government to put a limit on a person and tell them that they cannot have any more children. Will people put a limit on themselves?

Even with regulating the use of resources, we still live in a throw-away society. Space is another ultimate resource that is not hit on. Where will our waste go? How expansive and high can Mt. Rumpke be? They point out that "with the invention of synthetic material, other materials are still used in huge quantities." Synthetic material doesn't come out of nowhere. It is made from resources. Ultimately is it speeding up the uses of other resources. It is replacing one thing for another. Disposal of these synthetic material is critical because they are not degraded as quickly (or at all...but are biodegradable material degraded in a landfill).

Ultimatley popualtion has to be controlled, even if we don't want to. We need a little self-regulation, but that ultimately does not do well for economies where it will make it unstable where the bottom cannot support the top (I am getting off track).

What is the ultimate message that we can take? We must seek a better way.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ecosystem Services Reflection

The paper done by Carpenter et al. (2009, PNAS 106:1305-1312), has an overwhelming amount of detail on “Ecosystem Services” and how it attributed to “humans” or “man-kind.” I have two things to complain about right away with this idea and/or paper. Firstly, why does everything have to be attributed to “humans?” Is it in it own right to exist because of what it is? Why do “we” have to put a value on it for it to exist? Is it because the general public is too “un-educated” or “capitalistic” to understand it in any other way? Secondly, we are suppose to get this message out to the general public so that they can understand. How can we, as “scientist,” get messages out to the general public when they will not understand the jargon presented, as in this paper?

The general take home message of this paper is to have a better understanding on how to manage the relationship dynamics between human and the ecosystem that we rely on (Carpenter et al. 2009). Some of the feedbacks that were highlighted were: (i) ecosystems processes and landscape structure, (ii) provisioning and cultural ecosystem services, and (iii) human well being; and they can be looked at through three different view: local, regional and global. These are driven on both drivers on the spatial scale and time.

I found the amount of detail in "feedbacks," "drivers" and other factors sort of ridiculous. This could have been a much simpler paper (going into my second complaint above). I almost gave up, but I gave it a second (and now I found a third) chance and read it through a couple of times.