Reversing Extinction: The Passenger Pigeon?

Should the Passenger Pigeon be brought back from Extinction?

Should the Passenger Pigeon be brought back from Extinction?
Description: Hunters take aim at a flock of passenger pigeons
Attribution: The Illustrated Shooting and Dramatic News (July 3, 1875)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

As cloning technologies improve, the odds of reversing extinction continue to grow. Reviving the passenger pigeon, extinct since 1914, now appears to be a distinct possibility. But a larger question remains, namely how will these “extinction clones” survive in the modern world?

If the goal is to make them zoo exhibits, then a few passenger pigeons will suffice. But if the goal is to reintroduce them to nature, scientists could be in for a rude awakening. Passenger pigeons once existed in massive flocks and traveled up and down the east coast of the United States. In the process, they destroyed forests, picked trees clean, and left behind miles of feces. Could modern forests endure such an onslaught?

Here’s more from Kelly Servick at Wired Science:

Twelve birds lie belly-up in a wooden drawer at the Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Bloated with stuffing, their ruddy brown chests resemble a row of sweet potatoes. Slate-blue heads and thin white tails protrude in perfect alignment, except for one bird that cranes its neck to face its neighbor. A pea-sized bulge of white cotton sits where its eye should be. A slip of paper tied to its foot reads, “Ectopistes migratorius. Manitoba. 1884.” This is the passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird in North America. When Europeans first landed on the continent, they encountered billions of the birds. By 1914 they were extinct.

That may be about to change. Today scientists are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss a plan to bring the passenger pigeon back from extinction. The technical challenges are immense, and the ethical questions are slippery. But as genetic technology races ahead, a scenario that’s hard to imagine is becoming harder to dismiss out of hand.

About 1,500 passenger pigeons inhabit museum collections. They are all that’s left of a species once perceived as a limitless resource. The birds were shipped in boxcars by the tons, sold as meat for 31 cents per dozen, and plucked for mattress feathers. But in a mere 25 years, the population shrank from billions to thousands as commercial hunters decimated nesting flocks. Martha, the last living bird, took her place under museum glass in 1914…

(See the rest at Wired Science)

Did Ancient Mariners use Sunstones to Navigate?

The Ancient Sunstone: Was it an Iceland Spar?

The Ancient Sunstone: Was it an Iceland Spar? Description: Large Iceland Spar at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
Attribution: Alkivar
Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to ancient Icelandic texts, a mysterious object known as a sunstone could locate the sun in a clouded-over sky. Such an object might explain how ancient mariners like the Vikings traveled across the oceans with otherwise rudimentary technology. But did sunstones actually exist? Or were they merely allegorical references?

Recently, researchers discovered a slab of mineral in a 16th century shipwreck. This mineral, known as Iceland Spar, might just be the mythical sunstone. Here’s more from Raphael Satter at the Associated Press (posted at R&D Mag):

A rough, whitish block recovered from an Elizabethan shipwreck may be a sunstone, the fabled crystal believed by some to have helped Vikings and other medieval seafarers navigate the high seas, researchers say.

In a paper published earlier this week, a Franco-British group argued that the Alderney Crystal—a chunk of Icelandic calcite found amid a 16th century wreck at the bottom of the English Channel—worked as a kind of solar compass, allowing sailors to determine the position of the sun even when it was hidden by heavy cloud, masked by fog, or below the horizon.

That’s because of a property known as birefringence, which splits light beams in a way that can reveal the direction of their source with a high degree of accuracy. Vikings may not have grasped the physics behind the phenomenon, but that wouldn’t present a problem.

“You don’t have to understand how it works,” said Albert Le Floch, of the University in Rennes in western France. “Using it is basically easy.”

(See the rest at R&D Mag)

Hot Hand: Is it a Reality or a Fallacy?

Hot Hand: Reality or Fallacy?

Hot Hand: Reality or Fallacy?
Description: Dr. James Naismith (the inventor of basketball) with a basketball and a basket
Source: Wikimedia Commons

College basketball season is in full swing. Everywhere you look, an announcer or writer is screaming about players going on streaks, making lots of shots in a row. In other words, having a hot hand. There’s just one problem. The hot hand is a myth. There’s no evidence to support it. It’s similar to the gambler’s fallacy. Say you toss a coin into the air and it comes up heads ten times in a row. Many gamblers believe this means tails are due. But each coin flip is an independent event. So, the odds of flipping a tail are still just 50%. Statistically speaking, basketball is the same way. Here’s more from the New York Times:

Those who play, coach or otherwise follow basketball believe almost universally that a player who has successfully made his last shot or last few shots – a player with hot hands – is more likely to make his next shot. An exhaustive statistical analysis led by a Stanford University psychologist, examining thousands of shots in actual games, found otherwise: the probability of a successful shot depends not at all on the shots that come before.

To the psychologist, Amos Tversky, the discrepancy between reality and belief highlights the extraordinary differences between events that are random and events that people perceive as random. When events come in clusters and streaks, people look for explanations; they refuse to believe they are random, even though clusters and streaks do occur in random data.

”Very often the search for explanation in human affairs is a rejection of randomness,” Dr. Tversky said…

(See the rest at the New York Times)

Blizzard of 1888: The Worst Blizzard of all Time?

New York City during the Great Blizzard of 1888

New York City during the Great Blizzard of 1888
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Snow is starting to fall in northern New England as the region braces for an epic blizzard. Snowfall is expected to reach 2 to 3 feet when all is said and done. *Yawn* Unless things change dramatically, the Blizzard of 2013 will be nothing compared to the Great Blizzard of 1888. 125 years ago, 40 to 50 inches fell in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut over a four day period. Saratoga Springs received almost 6 feet!

The Blizzard of 1888 snowdrifts were epic. In Keene, New Hampshire, “drifts of hard packed snow from 12-15 feet deep were piled across the roads, and half way to the top of the second story windows.” And that was on the low end. Whopping 30 to 40 foot snowdrifts were common with the highest drift topping out at 52 feet (not the best day for residents of Gravesend, New York). Here’s more on the Great Blizzard of 1888 from Forgotten New England:

During New England‘s Blizzard of 1888, also known as the Great White Hurricane, over four feet of snow fell in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The storm dumped as much as 40 inches of snow in New York and New Jersey.  In a world before road salt and snowblowers, the Great White Hurricane suspended communication and travel in the U.S. Northeast for nearly a week in March 1888.  History most remembers the particularly horrific conditions in New York City.  There, the New York World reported that almost two feet of snow had fallen amidst biting 50 mph winds and sub-zero temperatures.  However, the storm also wrought havoc in smaller northern cities along the US East Coast…

(See the rest at Forgotten New England)

 

Lost Life Found Deep Beneath Antarctica?

Does Life Exist Deep beneath Antarctica?

Does Life Exist Deep beneath Antarctica?
Description: Photograph of Mount Erebus (Ross Island, Antarctica)
Attribution: Richard Waitt, U.S. Geological Survey (1972)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cells containing DNA have been found deep beneath Antarctica’s ice. But the most important question still needs to be answered…are they still alive? Here’s more from Crux Guest Blogger at Discover:

The search continues for life in subglacial Lake Whillans, 2,600 feet below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—but a thrilling preliminary result has detected signs of life. At 6:20am on January 28, four people in sterile white Tyvek suits tended to a winch winding cable onto the drill platform. One person knocked frost off the cable as it emerged from the ice borehole a few feet below. The object of their attention finally rose into sight: a gray plastic vessel, as long as a baseball bat, filled with water from Lake Whillans, half a mile below.

The bottle was hurried into a 40-foot cargo container outfitted as a laboratory on skis. Some of the lake water was squirted into bottles of media in order to grow whatever microbes might inhabit the lake. Those cultures could require weeks to produce results. But one test has already produced an interesting preliminary finding. When lake water was viewed under a microscope, cells were seen: their tiny bodies glowed green in response to DNA-sensitive dye. It was the first evidence of life in an Antarctic subglacial lake…

(See the rest at Discover)

Avoiding Earthquakes & Tornados?

Earthquakes and tornados are some of nature’s deadliest weapons. For many years, researchers have gathered data on their frequencies and magnitudes. What can we learn from that information?

Aftermath of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake – Block of burning buildings with fire truck spraying water on them (June 8, 1906)
Source: Library of Congress

Earthquakes

Here’s a map created by John Nelson, a mapping manager with data-visualization software maker IDV solutions. It shows every major earthquake (203,186 in total) that has been recorded since 1898. You probably already knew this, but if you want to avoid earthquakes, stay away from the Pacific Rim.

“We only started recording hard core in the late 1960′s. Also, you’d be right to assume that areas with more sensors record more earthquakes (but that’s why they are there, so round and round we go), though they can pretty well pinpoint epicenters from all over.” ~ John Nelson, Mapping Manager

Tornados

John has also created an interesting map showing the path of tornados over the United States. It includes all tornados that “touched down” between 1950 and 2011. Nelson has several other related tornado maps on his website, showing the data by season as well as by F-Scale. Most of the activity takes place in Tornado Alley, usually known as the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. But there’s more activity on the East Coast than we anticipated. The brightness of the lines indicates the F-Scale, or Fujita Scale, of the Tornado. The F-Scale measures the intensity of tornados based on the amount of damage they inflict on buildings as well as vegetation.

Interestingly enough, West Virginia is surrounded by tornados yet appears to get very little activity within its borders. We suppose that could be a data flaw. But if not, your best bet to avoid tornados seems to be sticking to the West Coast or holing up in West Virginia.

Breeding Ancient Animals?

In 1627, the last of the aurochs, which was the predecessor of domestic cattle, died in Poland’s Jaktorów Forest. Now, a group of scientists hope to, in a manner of speaking, bring the aurochs back from extinction. How is this possible?

An Aurochs battles a Eurasian Wolf pack
Drawn by Heinrich Harder for a 30 collector card set entitled, “Tiere der Urwelt” (Animals of the Prehistoric World), 1916
Source: Wikimedia Commons via “The Wonderful Paleo Art of
Heinrich Harder” at CopyrightExpired.com

The Aurochs

The aurochs once inhabited Europe, Asia, and North Africa. They were herbivores. Bulls stood from five to six feet tall while cows were slightly shorter. They sported large horns that curved in multiple directions. When fighting each other, they would apparently lock horns and attempt to push each other backward.

The aurochs were eventually domesticated into at least two separate subspecies: Zebu cattle in South Asia and the domestic cattle we know today.

The Nazi Breeding Experiments

In 1920, two brothers named Heinz and Lutz Heck were the directors of the Berlin and Munich zoos, respectively. For two decades, they attempted to recreate the aurochs using wild cattle from central and southern Europe. The idea was to genetically purify cattle to the form they held during the time of the so-called Aryan race.

The Luck brothers began cross-breeding strains of cattle. The resulting animal, now known as heck cattle, was a hardy breed who was considered at the time to be a resurrection of the aurochs. In truth, however, there were many differences between heck cattle and aurochs. Most of the heck cattle were destroyed at the end of World War II. However, about 2,000 still exist today.

“The Nazis wanted to recreate the aurochs to evoke the power of the folklores and legends of the Germanic peoples. Between the two wars there was thinking that you could selectively breed animals – and indeed people – for Aryan characteristics that were rooted in runes and folklore. Young men hunted these bulls as preparation for battle and leadership in war. Hunting was a very big part of what people like Goering did. This was something that was considered very manly to do.” ~ Derek Gow, Hitler has only got one bull (and it’s alive and well in the West Country)

The TaurOs Project

The TaurOs Project is mankind’s most recent attempt to, in effect, reengineer the aurochs. It’s a joint project between Stichting Taurus and several European universities. While back-breeding an actual aurochs is believed to be impossible, the Project hopes to create a form of cattle that is as close as possible to it.

The stated purpose of this project (and others like it) is to fill ecological niches. In other words, when mankind domesticated the aurochs, it supposedly left an empty niche in certain ecosystems. However, that niche can’t be filled by today’s domesticated cattle. Cattle have been bred to be docile and productive. They are, in effect, a creation of mankind rather than evolution. Hence, they may lack the wild traits needed to survive in nature.

The TaurOs Project hopes to create new breeds with these ancient wild traits. The theory is that original features of the aurochs are still present in certain breeds of cattle and can be brought together via crossbreeding and selective breeding. The resulting cattle would then be reintroduced into large rewilding reserves.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

These sorts of experiments, in our opinion, are at once exciting and frightening. The near recreation of extinct species is an intriguing idea. Who knows what species could ultimately be brought back from extinction?

On the other hand, the TaurOs Project and rewilding in general are strange, almost anti-human concepts. They seek to restore ecosystems to a pre-human state. In other words, the arrival of humans upset the pristine (and mythical) balance of nature and now we must seek to fix it.

“Lost in the mix is a very important question. What’s so great about ancient ecosystems anyway? In truth, there is very little, if any, scientific evidence that pre-human ecosystems were superior to the ones that we enjoy today. Many ecosystems do just fine with both native and non-native plants and animals. They’re just as productive and they contain just as many species.” ~ David Meyer, The Pleistocene Rewilding?

But scientists and conservationists remain driven to recreate historical ecosystems. And admittedly, we can understand some of the fascination. However, there is a curious irony to the whole thing.

“Nature doesn’t exist in a steady state. It’s always changing, always evolving. The only way to keep it from doing so is with lots of human interference. And if that’s the case, then what’s the point of returning to a pre-human ecosystem? Why not just let nature evolve on its own?” ~ David Meyer, The Pleistocene Rewilding?

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Man vs. Nature Coverage

The Threat of Happiness Research?

Two days ago, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) relaunched its “Better Life Index.” According to it, women are generally happier than men and Australia is the happiest country (assuming all categories are equally-weighted). But does happiness research pose a threat to society?

Is happiness research dangerous?

Is happiness research dangerous?
Attribution: SPUI
Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is Happiness Research?

Happiness research has exploded over the last few decades. The idea is to quantitatively measure happiness as well as what makes people happy. This allows for all sorts of comparisons between groups as well as nations.

Happiness research tends to treat individuals with a broad brush. But happiness is entirely subjective. Different people have different preferences. Some people value money derived from work more than leisure time and vice versa. The Better Life Index attempts to deal with this fact. It allows users to personalize their indexes based on how much they value eleven separate categories: community, education, environment, civic engagement, health, housing, income, jobs, life satisfaction, safety, and work-life balance. So, this would appear to be a marked improvement.

Cardinal Utility – The Fatal Flaw of Happiness Research?

Unfortunately, the Better Life Index doesn’t deal with the underlying problem. Happiness research depends on something known as cardinal utility. Cardinal utility holds that personal preferences can be accurately measured by a third-party. However, cardinal utility is an outdated view. No one believes it…no one except happiness researchers that is.

Take the Better Life Index. It asks people to self-report how much they value various categories. However, a stated preference don’t necessarily equal a demonstrated preference. What’s the difference? A stated preference is saying you’d take a pay cut to have more leisure time. A demonstrated preference is actually following through on it.

“The concept of demonstrated preference is simply this: that actual choice reveals, or demonstrates, a man’s preferences; that is, that his preferences are deducible from what he has chosen in action. Thus, if a man chooses to spend an hour at a concert rather than a movie, we deduce that the former was preferred, or ranked higher on his value scale.” ~ Murray Rothbard, Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics

Actions speak louder – much louder – than words. There are several ways stated preferences can mess up happiness research. First, people alter their preferences all the time. So, even if a person creates an “accurate” Better Life Index, he might change his mind when it comes time to make an actual choice. Second, a person might think they prefer doing one thing. But when presented with a choice, that same person might do something else entirely.

“In vacuo, a few consumers are questioned at length on which abstract bundle of commodities they would prefer to another abstract bundle, and so on. Not only does this suffer from the constancy error, no assurance can be attached to the mere questioning of people when they are not confronted with the choices in actual practice. Not only will a person’s valuation differ when talking about them from when he is actually choosing, but there is also no guarantee that he is telling the truth.” ~ Murray Rothbard, Toward a Reconstruction of Utility and Welfare Economics

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

So, maybe happiness research isn’t all that accurate. So what? It’s just for fun right? Well, maybe not. It might seem innocuous, but there’s a dark side to it. Politicians and bureaucrats from around the world are taking a page out of Jeremy Bentham’s book and claiming public policy can be used to engineer societal happiness.

“The most commonly cited statistic in happiness economics is the rule that somewhere between $40,000 and $110,000, a higher salary doesn’t buy much more joy or satisfaction. Many people draw the bright white line at $70,000. This provides a strong utilitarian impulse to raise taxes on the rich, who apparently can’t buy much happiness with their extra millions, and to funnel the money to the poor to bring them closer to $70,000. … But one reason why incomes differ is that some people care more about making money than others.” ~ Derek Thompson, The New Economics of Happiness

We barely understand happiness. And we certainly can’t measure it with any type of accuracy. So, the idea that politicians and bureaucrats can engineer it is an illusion. But that won’t stop them from trying. In the end, the research that is supposed to be improving lives might just end up ruining them.

“Apologists for Marxism have made myriad excuses for their ideology’s failure to provide the same standard of living and liberty as was enjoyed in capitalist nations. Until recently, few have been so brazen as to claim that lowering living standards and curtailing freedom were the intended consequences, let alone that people would be happier with less of either. … Limiting choice, reducing wealth and lowering aspirations are now openly advocated as desirable ends in themselves.” ~ Christopher Snowdon, The Spirit Level Delusion: Fact-Checking the Left’s New Theory of Everything

For Further Reading: The Trojan Horse of Happiness Research by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

The Pleistocene Rewilding?

Some 13,000 years ago, gigantic animals roamed what is now the United States. Is it not enough to mourn the loss of these animals? Should we attempt to “resurrect” them via programs like the Pleistocene Rewilding?

What is the Pleistocene Rewilding?

What is the Pleistocene Rewilding?
Description: Mastodon
Attribution: Charles R. Knight (1897)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

What is the Pleistocene Rewilding?

The Pleistocene Rewilding concept was the brainchild of a geoscientist named Paul S. Martin. Martin is perhaps most famous for his “Overkill” theory. He believed that the first settlers in North America overhunted the existing megafauna, such as mammoths and mastodons, to extinction.

Martin went on to propose the idea of “rewilding” North America with Pleistocene proxy animals. For example, the American mastodon is obviously extinct. However, the Sumatran elephant, which is an extant relative of the mastodon, still lives in Indonesia. Thus, breeding populations of Sumatran elephants on American soil would supposedly help fill an ecological niche.

“…the future of North America’s reserved lands needs to become a broad and magnificent debate that attempts to deal with the heart of the problem: ever since the extinction of the megafauna 13,000 years ago, the continent has had a seriously unbalanced fauna.” ~ Tim Flannery, The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples

Pretty cool huh? I mean, who wouldn’t want to be driving around the U.S. and stumble upon a family of elephants? Or Grant’s Zebra, playing the role of the Hagerman horse? Or even the Siberian tiger, in place of the American lion?

Rewilding: Pro-Animal…or Anti-Human?

Well, as you might expect, there’s a catch. In the August 18, 2005 edition of Nature, Josh Donlan and eleven other authors proposed the creation of “ecological history parks” which would “cover vast areas of economically depressed parts of the Great Plains.

And there’s the rub. If you’re going to import new megafauna to the U.S. as part of a crazy scheme to restore an ancient ecosystem, you need lots of land to do it. Also, all manmade structures should ideally be removed in order to support free migration. And barriers should be built to keep people out of the rewilding zone. Indeed, many of the scientists who support rewilding wish to implement it with as little human interaction as possible.

“It could be argued that taxa have an inherent moral right to continue evolving free of human intervention, or even that Earth as a whole has a right to demonstrate its fullest possible evolutionary potential. It could be argued that, as the species responsible for the extinction of so many taxa, humans have a corresponding responsibility to attempt their restoration when feasible.” ~ Paul S. Martin, Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America

But why stop at the Pleistocene epoch? Why not go further back in time? Well, at its core, rewilding is a strange, almost anti-human concept. It seeks to restore ecosystems to a pre-human or at least a pre-European state. In other words, the arrival of humans upset the pristine (and mythical) balance of nature and now we must seek to fix it.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Lost in the mix is a very important question. What’s so great about ancient ecosystems anyway? In truth, there is very little, if any, scientific evidence that pre-human ecosystems were superior to the ones that we enjoy today. Many ecosystems do just fine with both native and non-native plants and animals. They’re just as productive and they contain just as many species.

And yet, conservationists continue to seek the preservation or in the case of rewilding, the resurrection, of historical ecosystems. Part of this is practical. Ecosystem management requires some kind of baseline, something to shoot for. Otherwise, why manage it in the first place? The other part of it is blind faith. Many conservationists just know that historical ecosystems are desirable without a shred of proof to that effect.

All in all, the North American Pleistocene rewilding project is a fascinating idea. If private land owners want to lend their property to Pleistocene Parks, more power to them. However, they should know that such parks will be impossible to maintain (and here’s the ultimate irony) without human interference. Nature doesn’t exist in a steady state. It’s always changing, always evolving. The only way to keep it from doing so is with lots of human interference. And if that’s the case, then what’s the point of returning to a pre-human ecosystem? Why not just let nature evolve on its own?

“Nature is never in balance. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of balance. When an ecological system experiences a disturbance, whether it’s a forest fire or an ice storm or something else, it never comes back in its original form. Instead, the system evolves in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.” ~ David Meyer, The Mythical Balance of Nature

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Man vs. Nature Coverage

The Mythical Balance of Nature?

The Balance of Nature theory states that an ecological system, if left to its own devices, will essentially self-correct. In other words, if nature gets out of whack, it’ll eventually fix itself. It’s a popular theory, believed by practically everyone…except for ecologists that is.

Is Herodotus the father of the “Balance of Nature” theory?
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Mythical Balance of Nature?

“This concept of natural equilibrium long ruled ecological research and governed the management of such natural resources as forests and fisheries. It led to the doctrine, popular among conservationists, that nature knows best and that human intervention in it is bad by definition.” ~ William K. Stevens, New Eye on Nature: The Real Constant Is Eternal Turmoil

Yes, it’s true. Nature is never in balance. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of balance. When an ecological system experiences a disturbance, whether it’s a forest fire or an ice storm or something else, it never comes back in its original form. Instead, the system evolves in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. And predators and prey, contrary to popular opinion, don’t maintain constant population levels relative to each other. Instead, their numbers vary wildly over time. Sometimes, predators drive prey to extinction. Other times, predators die off on their own accord.

The Origin of the Balance of Nature Theory?

The Balance of Nature theory is very old, tracing all the way back to Herodotus, who is often considered the first historian. However, it entered the scientific world in the 1950s thanks to the efforts of two brothers named Howard T. Odum and Eugene Odum (see The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts by documentarian Adam Curtis). The Odums viewed nature as a self-stabilizing, cybernetic system filled with nodes and feedback loops. If a disturbance occurred in nature, it would be recognized via feedback loops. Nature would then adjust itself to eliminate the disturbance.

Over the next few decades, Howard Odum collected data and modeled ecosystems as electronic networks filled with nodes and feedback loops. Eventually, he and Eugene took the idea of “nature as a system” and made it the basis of ecological studies. Unfortunately, their work was deeply flawed. The brothers ruthlessly simplified and cherry-picked the data to fit their predetermined models. But no one realized that at the time and their ideas became gospel.

The Failure of the Balance of Nature Models?

Later, a systems ecologist named George Van Dyne attempted to model a small piece of land as a complete ecosystem. He gathered tons of data and built a computer simulation, hoping to gain a better understanding of how nature self-stabilized. But as he gathered more and more data, he began to realize his model didn’t even begin to resemble the real world. In fact, he found nature to be extremely unstable and ultra-complex.

But while the scientific theory behind the Balance of Nature was no longer considered accurate, it remained widely believed by the greater public. Indeed, the mythical Balance of Nature theory continues onward today, driven largely by poorly trained educators, popular culture, New Age environmentalism, and ancient romanticism. Will that ever change?

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Let’s hope so. The Balance of Nature might seem like a romantic idea, but nothing could be further from the truth. It views nature in machine-like fashion. Plants, animals, insects, and everything else are mere nodes in a network, reacting to constant feedback loops. However, nature is far more complex and unstable than even our most sophisticated computer models. It’s wild, ever-changing, and full of surprises. It’s unpredictable and remains beyond our understanding. And that, at least from where we stand, is a far more romantic…and accurate…idea of nature.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Man vs. Nature Coverage