Friday, April 23, 2010

Celebrating Earth's Biodiversity

With Earth Day's passing yesterday, I would like to talk a bit about biodiversity. We really do live on a remarkable planet. Just driving down the road, you can see a wide variety of plants and animals. On our dinner table, you see the same thing, plants, and animals that eat plants, all consumed with little thought to their origin or their makeup. As someone plagued by what Edward O. Wilson calls "biophilia", one of my favorite things to do is just pittle around in my yard and watch the wildlife. And I plant as many different types of plants as possible, knowing full well, that a diversity of plants will bring a diversity of animals.

One hobby I have that also enables this biophilia is hiking. Recently, I was in St. George for a golf tournament. I arrived a day early, in order to get a day of hiking in. The St. George area is a marvelous place to hike with an interesting assortment of flora and fauna. At the northern edge of the Mojave desert, you have many species of plants unique to the mojave interspersed with plants that thrive in the colder, slightly moister great basin desert. Joshua trees, a signature plant of the mojave mix with stansbury cliffrose and other common great basin regulars. Turbinella oak, an evergreen oak with holly-like leaves replace the gambel oak of the great basin, but sage brush (artemisia species) and rabbitbrush (chrysothamnus) are found in both desert environs.

I enjoy taking a pad of paper with me and documenting what plants and animals I see, any interesting tracks I get a good look at as well as make notes about any interesting geologic formations and rocks that I see. Seeing basalt overlaying sedimentary navajo sandstone created an interesting contrast between two different types of rocks, one old and rapidly eroding, and one younger, but heavier and denser and less prone to erosion.

The point I would like to make in this post, is to look around and observe the great beauty and diversity we have the good fortune of surrounding ourselves with. Enjoy this diversity, even if we get a bee sting once in while, or poked by a cactus. We also have to remember that though the earth's biodiversity is resilient, it isn't omnipotent. God did not create this, and God will not protect it, that job is left to us.

And with that, I wish everyone a happy earth month.


Marshall said...

Did you see the article on wolves in national geographic?

Great article about how the wolves have created a more vibrant ecosystem in and around yellowstone.

Obi wan liberali said...

thanks for the link marshall. It truly is interesting to see what happens when a missing part of an eco-system is brought back.

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