Monday, July 26, 2010

Equitable Kingdom

This is about an important article in Miller-McCune this last May/June, describing the impact of diminishing biodiversity due to human impact.

It's the idea of true stewardship by humanity using a different vision of the nature of life on earth. Not the idealized "Peaceable Kingdom" of religious belief and our way of rendering places ideally habitable and subsuming nature, or the wild kingdom that flourished thousands of years ago .The Earth is undergoing the sixth major mass extinction of life in its long history, because of human encroachment. As the average number of species found declines, its biomass diminishes, its systemic inertia disappears and its contribution to a stable, life-supporting biosphere will become far less able to counter the human activity that is devouring its systems.

The article has an excellent discussion of how biomimicry and reverse engineering of systems can teach us the critical lessons we need to understand.

The geochemistry of earth depends upon biological processes. The ecological impact of diminishing biomass in the natural environments due to fossil fuels, agriculture, land development and other things humanity has done to shift the patterns of life on this planet are immense. Our planetary systems rely upon diversity to absorb the carbon dioxide, in balance with its natural production. It's been found that more biodiversity in ecosystems leads to greater absorption of carbon dioxide. This concept is key to ecological coexistence, examples of which can be found in various places around the globe.

This need for conservation and preservation of wild lands is critical to the balance of our ecosphere, and there's been some mapping of resource areas that must be preserved and enhanced, lest we lose the very thing that provides us with the things the earth's life system depends upon.

The online article has some excellent graphics, Last of the Wild and Human Influence Index maps. It closes with this:

But the Equitable Kingdom is not just a new form of environmental activism; it is a new way of ordering the world, one that reveals the extraordinary significance of our species — a significance we always believed we had but couldn’t envision clearly. We saw ourselves as the paragon species in Eden and the Peaceable Kingdom as a matter of divine ordination, but such beliefs are not scientifically tenable and swayed only those who subscribed to the faiths that promoted them. To become the paragon of species in an Equitable Kingdom — a kingdom in which biodiversity serves as the foundation for environmental sustainability — is not only an achievable goal but a critical one if humans are to reform and in many ways dismantle a Domesticated Kingdom that has no inherent ability to ensure environmental equanimity. The biosphere lacked any central organizing force, leadership or stewards. By assuming the responsibilities of the paragon position it has always yearned for as a species, humanity can become the steward the Earth has never had.