06 October 2005

coexisting with nature

This is less of a post than a placeholder for article links, but I saw an article that asked why mosquitos were essential to ecosystems; a natural question since this is one species most of us would like to see extinct. It turns out that mosquitos are actually more important than most other species to ecosystem survival, but only partly because they keep animal populations in check by spreading disease. Much more important is that they keep humans away by spreading disease. A pretty gruesome tradeoff, and hopefully one that is not often necessary.

With that prologue, here's an article about how the Northeast of the U.S. wasn't originally covered in forest, since Native Americans regularly used fire to clear land. The forests appeared as the Native Americans disappeared, which is why they're only a few hundred years old.

Also, an article titled Does a Tiger Lurk in the Middle of a Fearful Symmetry? points out that tigers and other wildlife have returned to the Korean DMZ. Landmines and barbed wire are far less of a threat than highways and subdivisions. Likewise, animals are doing much better with post-Chernobyl radiation than anywhere where there are people.

I feel weird ending a blog post without some kind of bold and ill-thought-out political statement, so perhaps I should say here that the U.S. should depopulate the middle of the country (other than farming, mining, parks, a few roads, trains and Wall Drug) and move everyone into dense cities with populations no smaller than half a million each. This is sort of happening already, but people are doing things to stop it that are shitty economically and worse environmentally.


ahren said...

or you could exterminate the entire human race, except for your close circle of friends-- talk about economic and environmental benefit!

aram harrow said...


while i have to admit that i have an unhealthy fascination with your idea, i should say that what imagined when i said "depopulate" would involve some combination of tax incentives and carefully coordinated changes to zoning laws.

just to clarify.

(and i'd find some excuse to spare vegas.)