THE COMPLEXITY OF CREATION
In the very early years of my career, I began to recognize that forests were made up of unique individual stands or communities. They were the result of the physical characteristics of the sites they were growing on, and included different mixes of diverse species. The result was an intense desire to better understand the differences and implications of these unique natural communities. In the 1970’s, science began to talk about ecosystems that make up the natural world like it was something new. Our indigenous people have recognized these unique communities for centuries. A variety of biologists began focusing on how ecosystems function and the detrimental impacts human demands were having on various ecosystems throughout the world. Marine biologists have conducted more research studies on ecosystems in our ocean environments than studies of vegetative ecosystems on the worlds land base. Worldwide research has validated and confirmed that life on planet Earth depends upon and exists, only as a result of our natural world and the extraordinary amount of bio-diversity within nature!
I chose to label these unique units as communities rather than ecosystems, as communities tend to be better understood as complex units full of life and relationships. Regardless of the title one places on these units, it is essential to understand that planet Earth was created with a garden of unique subdivisions which magnify bio-diversity. I accept that there remains a debate over how Earth was created, however the more depth of understanding one acquires about the complexity of creation, the more logical the concept of “intelligent design” becomes.
The Bible tells us in Genesis, Chapter 1 verse 1, that; “God created the Universe- the Heavens and Earth”. Genesis, Chapter 2 verse 8 states: “God planted a garden in the East and called it Eden”, which means paradise in Greek. He then placed mankind in the garden and commanded the people to care for and nurture the land within the garden. In Luke, Chapter 23 verse 43; Christ said from the cross, “You will be with me today in Paradise”. For centuries, we have been searching for the Garden of Eden from which we draw the sustenance of life. The logic of the Biblical story of Creation, tells us the Garden of Eden is the Natural World that surrounds us today, and we are living as God intended in Paradise. Unfortunately, we have failed to keep His commandment of caring for and nurturing the land.
As we begin to see and understand the mosaic of individual ecosystems or communities that cover the Earth, the one element that is paramount is the necessity of bio-diversity in the natural world. We must also understand that life is based on the concept of predator-prey relationships. One species feeding on another is the process that is designed into the circle of life on Earth. This phenonium exists and can be observed within most eco-system on our planet.
It is interesting that there are two basic types of ecosystems today, natural ecosystems and human created artificial ecosystems. Humans have become so sophisticated they believe we are capable of creating artificial ecosystems. Cities and large urban developments are examples of artificial ecosystems, and are where 81 % of the United States population is now residing. There are sharp differences between natural and artificial ecosystems, requiring further examination. Their only similarity is that both function under the predator-prey principles. Natural systems are self-contained while artificial systems require resources from outside the system. Humans have not only developed the ability to reach outside their ecosystem to meet their demands and desires, but have developed the ability to reach back to find and utilize past energy sources to provide for their expanding population demands. These capabilities have allowed the population of the top predator species to expand in numbers and densities to levels beyond the ecosystems carrying capacity, resulting in the extermination of many prey species and upsetting the balance of the artificial environment.
Natural ecosystems function differently. When the prey species begin to decline, we observe a similar decline in the predator species, thereby helping to maintain balance within the ecosystem. Extermination of species seldom occurs within a natural ecosystem unless outside influences occur, such as over harvesting of a species by humans. Observing natural ecosystems, regardless of where they occur, reveals that they are resilient, rich in bio-diversity and self-sufficient in supporting life. Artificially created ecosystems, on the other hand, are not self-sufficient, frequently result in species extermination, lack of diversity and adverse impacts on other ecosystems.
The Natural World, the Garden of Eden, is rapidly shrinking and becoming contaminated, resulting in limiting Earth’s ability to support life. We are quickly approaching Earth’s limited carrying-capacity as the world population is currently pushing eight billion people. Yes, natural ecosystems are resilient and can rebound if human demands are removed, but our expanding world population will demand ever increasing resources and energy from the natural world, resulting in loss of life-sustaining bio-diversity and the continued death of critical ecosystems throughout the world. When will we learn the necessity of living in balance with Earth’s environment?
There are several examples of studies designed to test the ability of ecosystems to regenerate and return to biological balance. Biologists involved in these studies, suggest that removing the impact of humans, the top predator on Earth, allows nature to gradually rebuild these natural ecosystems. They are basically suggesting the solution to dying ecosystems is a return to John Muir’s 1850’s, principles of “Preservation”. I have reviewed several of these experiments and strongly believe preservation is not the correct method. In each study I have reviewed, success has started with human efforts to limit over-harvesting, consumption and lost and missing indigenous species. The biologists conducting the experiments understood the natural history of the ecosystem and implemented management processes designed to re-establish the balance of the original natural community. I call this “intensive management following NATURE’S WAY”. Nature’s Way requires eliminating the introduction of non-indigenous species, stopping the extensive use of clear-cutting, preventing the ignoring of ecosystem or community boundaries, elimination of monocultures such as plantations and limiting over utilization of resources, energy and food sources.
Nature’s Way can provide healthy marine and vegetative ecosystems, thereby prolonging human life on Earth. We must realize that today’s world population numbers and densities, will continue to stress natural ecosystems and require human support to implement management principles following Nature’s Way. It will require scientists with strong ecological foundations driven by the knowledge of ecosystem functions and the application of the principles of Nature’s Way.
Introducing ecological principles to our society needs to start at the elementary school level. Our universities and colleges must begin the advanced education experience with a solid ecological foundation upon which the student can then construct their desired educational specialty. It is no longer sufficient to build an ecological education by adding a few shingles to the top of the educational structure. The entire structure must be built on a strong ecological foundation.
To achieve our desired future will necessitate adjustments in human life styles and societal demands for wealth and affluency. Success relies on expanded ecological education, acceptance of the truth and rejection of the demands of the greedy and uninformed. We must measure success using wellness statistics rather than economic indicators. The wellness of the people and the environment is a far better measurement of success than the Gross National Product. The future of humanity depends upon our ability to adopt the principles of “Nature’s Way”!