Sunday, September 21, 2008


As many of you know I’m a rather adamant planet conservationist. I say planet, because I believe it is vitally important to preserve life on all levels. This includes not only the beautiful and majestic large animals of popular appeal, such as the whales, the tigers, and the polar bears. It also includes our vital sub-ecosystems, the insects and plants that drive those systems, and it extends to human life as well. Yes, we too are extremely important when it comes to conservation. Our development and population growth is never going to stop unless mankind is wiped from the earth by some apocalyptic event. Now, since that may, or probably may not, ever happen, who knows, I believe it’s a very big deal for us to learn to live effectively on our planet. That means looking out for ALL of the species on the planet. In light of this I’ve decided to post a series of entries dedicated to the earth.

In this day and age we are facing mass extinctions that haven’t been seen since the time of the dinosaur. Over 1/3 of our world’s species of frogs has gone extinct within the last decade. Most people know about the plight of the polar bear and rain forest. Did you also know that the arctic forest is now being threatened and that it produces so much oxygen that it can change

composition of the atmosphere? Global warming is a another serious issue that can no longer be avoided. To the skeptics, I say, recheck your facts. Scientists have been able to collect and analyze information regarding global warming in a manner and quantity that they were unable to do just 20 years ago. If that’s not enough for you…look at your own back yard. How many people have witnessed spring flowering trees blooming in the fall? I know I have. How many of you gardeners have been able to plant earlier and later than normal? Anyone whose livelihood is dependent on the earth through farming could easily tell you of the changes they have witnessed. But these posts are not about lecturing on global warming. It’s about opening up people’s minds to the knowledge of the world around them. It is only by experiencing the world that one can develop a connection with it and while reading about it and looking at pictures may be a poor substitute for actually touching and seeing it first hand, it’s better than nothing.

So, let’s begin with the poles. There are two of them. Yeah, yeah I know, you probably already knew that. The arctic (that’s the northern pole) supports such a vast quantity of wildlife that it’s practically incomprehensible. Over two million caribou travel over 2000 miles each year in the search for new grazing fields. That alone, can be astonishing but it’s only a minute portion of the land and sea animals dependent on this extremely fragile ecosystem. Male polar bears need the ice intact to be able to hunt. So, because the ice is retreating earlier each year the bears must go for longer and longer periods, sometimes 5 months or more without a single meal. Starvation is a serious possibility. Did I mention the trees? The conifers in the arctic support a species of bird that is specifically tailored to extract the seeds from the pine cones and survive the frigid temperatures of the north. I wonder how successful those conifers would be at repopulating themselves if the birds disappeared. Then, of course, I have to ask what would become of the rest of the planet if those trees disappeared?

The humpback whale, believe it or not, has not been saved. It is still being threatened even 40+ years after the “Save the Whales” campaign was started. This is primarily due to loopholes in the laws which are being exploited and so their numbers continue to decline. The humpback whales rely on the entire ocean as both their breeding and feeding grounds. Both of the poles offer breeding areas as well as feeding during given times of the year. The females use the tropical waters near the equator as baby nurseries to have and raise their calves. The female humpback whale gives birth in the tropics and then lives off of her fat reserves for 8 months before returning to the polar waters to feed. The entire time she is in the tropical waters she is nursing her calf; she will be almost to the point of starvation when she and her calf begin the long journey back. The trip through the ocean’s waters will be around 5,000 miles. Once she makes it back to the colder waters she will need to consume about three tons of krill every day while she’s there.

The northern polar waters go through an algae bloom each year during the brief spring/summer season. All life in the poles is dependent on the precise timing of this seasonal change because the change is so rapid. If the algae fail to bloom the entire ecosystem collapses. Everything from krill to seal to whale runs the risk of starvation. Algae, one of the smallest living organisms on the face of the planet are also vital to us. Did you know that the ocean’s algae create ¾ of our oxygen? The life cycle goes on and on and affects all the life on the planet. The poles are some of the furthest and most isolated of ecosystems on the planet, but carry a great deal of weight when it comes to our planet’s well being. In my upcoming posts I plan to take a look at some of our world’s other ecosystems, stay tuned.

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