Into The Next Century

As we enter into this next century there are many concerns to be pondered. Economic, social, and environmental-ecological questions to be answered. The Northeast Ecological Recovery Society (NERS) is dedicated to the enrichment of the Bio-diversity in the northeast.

Bio-diversity is a fancy word for making the Ecology more complex. Ecology is a relationship among living organisms and between organisms and their environment. The word Ecology is derived from the greek word OIKOS, meaning house; therefore it is literally the study of our house, Planet Earth.

The First Law of Ecology: Complexity brings forth stability.
The more complex an ecosystem is, the more apt it is to be able to withstand environmental stress. It has backup routes for insuring that food, water, sunlight and shelter are available to, its members. When we pollute a river or destroy a forest or build new highways what we are doing is simplifying nature by destroying the many components, which exist in that ecosystem. When one destroys a forest through clear cutting, we affect more then just the trees themselves. The habitats of many animals and insects are destroyed; also there is less absorption of carbon dioxide gases from the atmosphere through the chemical process of photosynthesis. When early americans all but destroyed the north american wolf, they removed an apex predator. Such predators cull the weak and the old from their prey populations. They prevent herbivores from over-grazing and destroying the balance between plants and animals. Without apex predators, no ecosystem can be healthy. That is one reason we seek to bring the timber wolf back to the adirondacks.

The destruction, which is taking place in the Tropical Rain Forest (and in America’s Temperate Forest, for that matter) offer good examples of ecological simplification. Every minute, some form of life becomes extinct in the rain forest due to the mass destruction of habitat. In essence, the ecology of the rain forest is becoming less complex, and that puts more of a burden on the ecology of the whole planet.

Ecologists believe the study of ecology is the study of change. But the question is, what kind of change, and how fast and how large are the changes? In most natural settings, change takes place fairly slowly-and-far slower than the rate at which humanity is changing, damaging and simplifying ecosystems across the globe. The over fishing of our oceans and the destruction of our world forestlands will have far-reaching negative impact on all of earth’s inhabitants, for future generations.

The mass destruction of the Bison of the Great Plains in the 19th century affected more then just the bison. The Great Plains grasses, the wolf, the coyote, the eagle, and the prairie dog, as well as the Native American themselves, were all hurt by the loss of the bison.

"Unlike domestic cattle, buffalo have through the millennia become a vital force in the delicate prairie ecosystem. The vast American buffalo herds were constantly on the move, cropping the grass as they walked but leaving untouched the tall coarse growth that provided protection for ground-nesting birds, mice, lizards, and other small animals.

When the grass was gone, the buffalo moved on, leaving their dropping to fertilize the soil. In the spring, the bedraggled buffalo shed their winter coats, which fell in tuffs to the ground. There, seeds that had been over wintering in the thick, snarled hair grew roots, starting a new cycle of life on the prairie"(Jacqueline W. Sletto. Prairie tribes and the buffalo) from the Inter Tribal Bison Cooperative.

I think it is important to understand that we will not have a healthy ecology if we do not have a healthy economy and we will not have a healthy economy if we do not have a healthy ecology. Economy + Ecology = Society. Our economy must change so as to provide economic incentives to preserve the planet’s ecosystem and all of their components. Then, perhaps, we will be able to keep a clean and healthy OIKOS. In the words of Rene ‘Dubos "Think Globally, Act Locally".

By, Joe Butera

copyright © 2005 Northeast Ecological Recovery Society, INC. all rights reserved.