Ecology And Environment
Trees and sky exchange the needed materials to create air

How Ecosystems are Interconnected

Trees and sky exchange the needed materials to create air
Christyl Rivers's image for:
"How Ecosystems are Interconnected"
Caption: Trees and sky exchange the needed materials to create air
Image by: Christyl Rivers

All ecosystems are interconnected. 

All humans, and most other organisms, are for example, largely water.  We are connected also by the air.  Air and wind, breath and exchange of gases is what makes life possible.  Once on earth there was no oxygen rich atmosphere.  People can thank the rise of microbes about three billion years ago for starting their interactive conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen for breathable air.  These microbes that created breathable air have been around for billions of years longer than most other species, and far longer than humanity.  It took a very arrogant species indeed to believe that humanity is somehow more important, or divine, than simple bacteria.

The living exchange of water and air moving in and out of the sky, the forests, rivers, the oceans and the human body is a great example of absolute dependency and shared being.

Exchanging systems have air and water, but of course there are minerals, elements, and abiota as well.  Each person is comprised not only of these minerals and traces of other elements, but of systems of energy exchange as well.  That is, organisms are never static, but at any moment always engaged in both collecting and spending energy.  So, thermodynamics connects all interactive beings and events as well.

In fact, all organisms including humans have ecosystems within, and surrounding them.  There are millions of teeming cells, parasites, fungi, microbes, and colonies of various types inside a human body, and externally to it. Some believe the earth itself, in that it regulates heat, gas exchange and  constantly changing variables is an organism itself.  Many mass extinctions have come and gone, but earth slowly regenerates each time.

The earth, once supporting fewer than seven billion people, historically had enormous stores of resources. It is only quite recently that an untried and unparalleled event of resource depletion, and diversity destruction, by way of fossil fuel consumption is occurring.

This does not mean humans need to save the earth. For most mass extinctions, humans were not even present. However, what we do decide is acceptable, living in vastly deteriorated landscapes, or not, is up to humanity.  To foul one's own nest is unwise in every interpretation of common sense.  To add toxins, pollutants, and a serious degeneration of all self-sustaining bio-diversity is clearly insane.

Ecopsychology is the field of well being that teaches belonging.  And belonging is the broad foundation of all life and all exchanges of energy. When we recognize what is needed for sustaining ecosystems, we are better able to realize what to protect and defend.

The attendant symptoms of a sick society include crime, pollution, hate, selfishness, greed, apathy, helplessness, and all the blights and diseases which a common strong immunity can no longer defend against.  That is, disconnection causes conflicts, and in the wake of those conflicts, turf wars, and wasted landscapes, is often hunger and need, disease, and deteriorated infrastructure.

A poor knowledge of what we are made of, what systems need to survive and exchange heat, fuel, water, soil, and more is what creates misunderstanding of the human place in any ecosystem. It is neither entirely due to religion or ideology, but almost always by a need for people to believe that they belong to the chosen few. The ability to believe one belongs not to the chosen few, but to the entire cosmos, is a a thought outside the bubble that has also been repeated in history, and has proven effective for people and other organisms to appreciate their mutual inclusion.

Prior to Industrialization, people lived closer to earth and sensed their place and belonging in the inter active ecosystems. We are still completely dependent upon air, food, soil and water, but people collectively behave as though they are somehow "above" or in charge of, these dynamic systems. Life is needed for life, humanity is not needed as a master in any sense.

Native peoples have notably nearly always expressed kinship to animals, forests, skies and earth.  There may be no such beast, as the noble savage, a myth debunked, but there is the reality of living more deeply in touch with the sustaining, and supportive world.

More about this author: Christyl Rivers

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