Ecology Has Many Facets

by blackspanielgallery

Ecology has a multitude of different parts, but can be divided into two main groups, impact on the environment and impact on species.

There are a multitude of considerations to be made when one tries to ecologically responsible. Unfortunately, these are not always in harmony with each other.

An easy trap to fall into is to focus narrowly, and ignore other considerations. This can happen when a zealous group champions one cause, but disregards other aspects of the ecology. Our ecosystem is complex, and must be considered as a whole.

The considerations of ecology can be viewed as falling into two main groups, those that impact the environment, and those that involve an imbalance in the food chain, or otherwise involve a species not in its naturally occurring location.

Global Warming

The Greenhouse Effect and the Environment

Global warming, or the greenhouse effect, is constantly in the news.  The focus is often on greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere.  Carbon dioxide is the gas that is most often mentioned, but other gases also contribute.  There is a need for a certain amount of carbon dioxide to maintain plant life, and to keep the Earth from entering an ice age.  But, we now have too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  This increase in carbon dioxide is caused by burning, but removal of trees keeps carbon dioxide from being removed and is significant in allowing carbon dioxide to build up.  Trees, and other plants, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and entrap the carbon.

 

Greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation, keeping this energy from escaping to outer space.  When the energy is released it too often does not head outward, but in a random direction allowing much of it to be directed back to the Earth.

 

Global warming is also enhanced by changing the albedo, or reflectivity, of the Earth.  The Earth naturally reflects sunlight, but bare ground after deforestation, and even paving large expanses of area for parking, changes that.  Indeed, many other things change the Earth’s albedo in a heat absorbing manner.  Heat is no longer being reflected at the rate it once was, so it adds to the temperature of the planet.

Ozone Depletion

Of the Stratosphere

There are two ozone problems, one is pollution which is itself harmful.  But, the real problem is the depletion of the ozone that envelopes the Earth at the stratospheric level.   This happens in response to certain chemicals released into the atmosphere, and to exhaust gas from high flying aircraft.  The release does not have to be high in the atmosphere, the gas can work its way up over time.  And one molecule of certain gases can destroy many molecules of ozone.  The propellants once used in aerosol cans was one cause of ozone depletion.   

Clean Air

A Necssity

Air is necessary for breathing, both by humans and by animals.  Contaminating the atmosphere can cause harm.  Even if an area is not inhabited by humans does not mean wildlife would not be harmed.

Clean Water

Water is necessary for life, and clean water is important.  Companies have dumped chemicals into rivers and streams, runoff from farms include dissolved insecticides and fertilizer, and in some cases human waste is dumped.  Streams and rivers are used for drinking and irrigation.  Contamination is unacceptable.  But, even after the water works its way into the oceans harm can be done.

 

There is an area in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast where a dead zone has formed, due to oxygen depletion.  This is a result of the contaminates that have removed the oxygen.

 

Clean Water Is Priceless

Coffee Mug

Depletion of Natural Resources

Natural resources such as coal and oil are in limited supply, and will take millions of years to be replenished.  There is a limited amount of these resources available.  In not that many years they can easily run out.  It is imperative that alternatives to using these resources be developed using resources that will not deplete.

 

Noise Pollution

The Subtle Problem

One thing few people think of is noise pollution.  Often noise pollution is below the threshold of human hearing, but can disrupt other species.  And, noise is a form of energy.  It is important to get noise pollution under control.

 

Akin to this is light pollution, that background light in cities that prevent seeing the beauty of the night sky at its fullest.

Waste Disposal

Landfills are rapidly becoming too full of refuge.  The alternatives, disposal at sea and burning are unpalatable.  We have seen how far material can float after the Japanese tsunami carried debris out to sea and it traversed the Pacific Ocean, and burning adds greenhouse gases and contaminates to the atmosphere.

 

The best solution is to use less packaging, recycle, reuse and repurpose when possible, and use biodegradable for the needed packaging material whenever it can be used.

 

Where Does the Responsibility Lie?

who Is Responsible for the environment?

Big companies too often consider the profit as the only thing of importance.  Cutting costs by using techniques and packaging not consistent with ecological responsibility is too often the choice.  But, the responsibility does not end there.  It falls on those who use the products, and who too often discard things that can be recycled, reused, or repurposed.  And, those companies would soon abandon harmful techniques if the customers were to buy elsewhere, so it is really a shared responsibility. 

Displaced Animals and Plants

Unnatural Habitats

Man has brought animals, and to a lesser extent plants, to new environments with disastrous results.  Many of these introductions of animals into new environments were well intentioned.

 

In Louisiana, the nutria was introduced as a fur bearing animal to help trappers.  Unfortunately, it has overproduced due to too few predators.  Nutrias eat roots, and burrow into the ground.  This damages the natural plant life that serves as food for native animals.  And the burrowing has caused damage to the sides of drainage canals and to roadways by undermining the roadways that run along those canals.

 

Another problem was the introduction of a water lily that flourishes in Louisiana.  This is a plant that floats, and produces a beautiful blue-purple flower.  It was brought in for a private garden, but plant seeds are so easily spread.  Soon, waterways were filled with the plants.  The problem is the roots entangle as to make a large floating mat.  This impedes boats by choking off waterways.  They had to be eliminated.  After nothing else worked a small animal-life that eats such roots was suggested to control them.

There are many examples of species that have gotten out of control as a result of lack of predators in a new environment.  But, perhaps the most significant of all is the rat that caused the bubonic plague.  The source is believed to be from the east, and ships could easily have transported them.  Then, weather conditions killed a significant number of animals.  When conditions improved the rats reproduced faster than the hawks, owls, and snakes, so they were not being controlled by nature.  This is one theory.

 

It is important to not tamper with the food chain.  Nature is in balance, and any disruption has far reaching effects.  Even inadvertent tampering can be a problem with major impacts.

Extinctions

Extinctions remove a species forever from the Earth.  We must remember that species do not exist in isolation, but are part of a balance of nature.  That species had a job to do, whether it was to serve as a predator, or serve as food for other species.   Once it is gone that job is unfulfilled, and nature must work at coming into a new balance.

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Who Causes This?

For one, hunters who are vain to the point of killing an animal just for a trophy.  But, anyone involved in poisoning an environment so as to cause a species to become distressed or extinct has to take responsibility, as do those who destroy natural habitats of species.  Here we see greed and vanity at the root of the problem.

This article contains links to affiliate programs from some or all of Amazon, Zazzle, Viglink, and Ebay through Viglink, and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting.

 

The introduction image is of one of our products on Zazzle, and we own the rights to the image used in creating the product.

Updated: 04/20/2017, blackspanielgallery
 
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