|Ecological Crisis and Hidden Species
By Valentin Sapunov, Professor of Biology
Ecology is not environmental protection, but a science of the relationship between organisms
and environment, which is based on several conceptions. The first two conceptions were
suggested by great Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky.
The first concept: There are no unoccupied ecological niches in nature The second: The biomass of biological sphere is constant, about 1000 trillion ton. G. Gause found the third concept: a growth of biological mass of every species is limited. It is demonstration of general philosophical principle of the impossibility of for any process to develop without limit.
We should remember all these concepts are considered basic events taking place in the biosphere. Various changes occur in the biosphere regularly. Sometimes these changes may be rather dramatic. Calculation by some ecologists indicates that today the rate of extinction is one species per hour, or 10,000 per year (B.Carpenter et.al.). Are you scared? Don't be afraid. It is a rare case that a species dies without living a trace. As a rule, the "dying-out" of a species means merely that the number of a species have been reduced below levels that can be registered by methods of field ecology. In addition, there are a lot of "hidden" species on the earth, which are known to exist, but cannot be fixed because of small number. They are Bigfoot, Nessie of monster of Laurenty River fixed by professor Robert Morgan.
Local disasters result in the death of many organisms. The laws of global ecology, however, say that unoccupied places are filled immediately. Even the most considerable ecological disasters are unable to significantly change the mass of the biosphere. A reduction of the mass in the one place is always compensated by an increase in another place. An increase of anthropogenic pressure in Western Europe e.g. has resulted in a significant decrease in the combined mass of animals and plants. At the same time, the opposite processes are taking place in European Russia. The number of animals and plants is increased. Many hidden species are between them.
Human-made disasters are such smaller in scale that natural ones. It is an almost established fact that asteroids fall to the Earth every 50 - 60 millions years, which result is global changes in the climate and structure of the fauna. This does not cause the destruction of the biosphere. Instead one species is simply replaced by other one.
Obviously, one of such disasters has resulted in the dying of dinosaurs, mammalians, being before a "hidden" class, occupied the Earth.
Homo sapiens is the only species whose number have been grown over millenniums. The continuation of human life is continuously increasing. Thus we can say from the point of view of ecology, the species Homo sapiens is thriving. A demographic crisis has not yet come. Danger of overpopulation is also absent, because the rate of population increase is declining. According to forecast, the stabilization of population may expected in 2020-2030. Danger of global famine does not exist as well. Man is an omnivorous animal. Man may consume almost all plants and animals. This was the very reason that has allowed our ancestors to populate the entire earth. The biomass of the Homo sapiens species is much less than the mass of the biosphere. Therefore, man's reserve of nutritional products is almost limitless. To "organize" a famine would be a very complicated task. Even modern Russian government can't do it.
The intensification of the exploration of natural resources by man is also not limited. Mankind exhausts any sources of raw materials sooner of later. Once the lack of a raw material seems to be a real possibility humankind always finds new and more progressive technologies to overcome this problem. The fear in the face of a shortage of non-ferrous metals forced ancient societies to begin using iron instead of bronze. A thread of running out of coal resources gave birth to the oil industry in the 20th century. All resources of raw materials have finally remained. The cost of basic raw materials has finally remained. The cost of basic raw materials is permanently decreasing.
Our epoch has created a lot of crisis. The hardest economic crisis induced by World Bank system takes place within former USSR. In the global scale, however, there are no irreparable crisis at all. What has been said above, is far from being intended to deny the necessity for environment protection. I'd just like to remark that the rational use of natural does not require political slogans, but the true knowledge of ecology and the ability of soberly estimate a situation, which should be free from the influence by the concepts of catastrophes.
© Valentin Sapunov, St. Petersburg, Russia
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