The Natural World Vanishes: How Species Cease To Matter

Why Is Miguel Posting This?

Solve the riddle and you shall know

” A lilypad doubles in size each day In 28 days the lilypad will cover the entire pond In how many days will the pond be half covered?”

Buffett, Munger, Einstein, Newton, Franklin and many bright minds have rightly pointed at the power of compounding. From an ecological point this is also a very important effect to consider. For me this notion of compounding signals the importance of being aware of gradual changes. Which although seemingly insignificant and unrelated can have  powerful long term consequences.  Repeat after me: Not only can good things compound for you so can bad ones (think credit card debt etc etc).

Introduction (Via  John Waldman @ E360 Yale)

Once, on both sides of the Atlantic, fish such as salmon, eels, and, shad were abundant and played an important role in society, feeding millions and providing a livelihood for tens of thousands. But as these fish have steadily dwindled, humans have lost sight of their significance, with each generation accepting a diminished environment as the new norm.

Excerpt (via John Waldman @ E360 Yale)

If you are a resident of the East Coast of the United States or of Western Europe, when did you last attend a shad bake, eat an eel, or watch Atlantic salmon vault a waterfall? Community shad bakes once celebrated the return of American shad to rivers as a marker of spring. Recently though, a dearth of shad led to a “shadless shad bake” on the Hudson — a river that in its glory days supplied more than four million pounds of shad in one season. Eels were widely consumed by Europeans and Americans in the 1800s and were often featured on holiday tables. And salmon once ran inland in countless numbers, providing sport and food; today, only a few hundred wild salmon remain in the eastern U.S., migrating up a handful of rivers in Maine to spawn.

Today, most people in the U.S. and Europe are scarcely aware that eels, wild Atlantic salmon, shad, and alewives — once-vital sources of food and employment — are no longer a part of their ordinary experience. This decline in importance is a manifestation of a loss of standing in society for these fishes, part of a larger phenomenon involving a regrettable interplay between ecology and the social order.

Every generation takes the natural environment it encounters during childhood as the norm against which it measures environmental decline later in life. With each ensuing generation, environmental degradation generally increases, but each generation takes that degraded condition as the new normal. Scientists call this phenomenon “shifting baselines” or “inter-generational amnesia,” and it is part of a larger and more nebulous reality — the insidious ebbing of the ecological and social relevancy of declining and disappearing species.

Click Here To Read: The Natural World Vanishes: How Species Cease To Matter

About Miguel Barbosa

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09. April 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Complex Systems, Curated Readings | Leave a comment

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