Monday, December 14, 2009

Please read and think about it:
…Although we often behave as if we’re the only ones who live here, we depend on other organisms in all manner of ways.
Some of these are obvious. We hunt fish to eat them; we grow cows for meat, milk and leather. We cultivate silkworms to make clothes. We grow a large number of plants for diverse purposes – to eat, or to use as drugs, timber or paper. But much of our dependence is less obvious. Worms, fungi, insects and microbes consume dead bodies and fallen branches. Some organisms consume dung; others move seeds. Many organisms make soil richer and more fertile. Plants around streams and rivers filter the water and make it cleaner. Plants also take carbon dioxide from the air, and thus affect the composition of the atmosphere; their roots help prevent soils from washing away. Some bacteria may play a role in making clouds; the list goes on.
By and large, we do not pay for any of this: our economics does not, for the most part, include paying for nature. But we pay when it is lost. Less fertile soils make it harder to grow crops. Dirtier water is more expensive to make fit for human consumption. The collapse of fisheries leads to unemployment. The loss of mangroves increases the impact of tsunamis. The loss of animal species increases the risk that humans will catch diseases such as Lyme disease. Again, the list goes on… For we must start cherishing our fellow life forms, and treating them well: we need them, in more ways than we probably imagine. Their loss makes the planet – and ourselves – poorer. So please be up-standing, raise your glasses and join me in a toast to: “Other Life Forms!” And let’s make sure that in the years ahead, we don’t need to change it to “Absent Friends’’
An excerpt from:
A wild celebration
By Olivia Judson

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