Developing an Ecological Conscience: One Shot at One World


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What is an ecological conscience? It is knowing how each individual feels and cares for our environment and our entire ecosystem. Human beings as living things on this great planet called Earth, are given one shot to make a difference in our world. After all, we are only temporary specimens. Aldo Leopold stated in a part of one of his quotes “A thing is esthetically right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the community, and the community includes, soil, waters, fauna, flora as well as people.” We will be discussing how metabolism influences life, why our ecosystem is so important, the impacts of animal overpopulation and how hunting coincides with each other, we will look at why farming is important and how the industrial life style is jeopardizing this industry as well as the impacts it is having on our environment. We will also be discussing the intrinsic worth of nature and why an ecological conscience is so important for our future.

The biggest influence to life on this earth is metabolism. This is a process of reactions between microorganisms to generate energy that all life needs in to survive, grow and reproduce. All living organism must acquire and be able to transform energy so that they can make new cells and adequately repair old ones. Living organisms are linked to metabolic processes because of the relationships that they have with our atmosphere and climate that allow for unity. The microorganisms that go through metabolic processes break down different types of gases and make it so that us as humans are able to survive on planet Earth. Loren Eiseley wrote “Flowers changed the face of the planet. Without them, the world we know-even man himself-would never have existed’.” I believe that Eiseley is correct in this statement because flowers are plants and plants are able to metabolize carbon dioxide, this is a chemical element that is toxic to us humans if we consume too much. Therefore, when we as humans take away our forests and bodies of fresh water and other natural flora that is essential to all life, we are decreasing our one-shot in this world to allow for all things to flourish and preserve our ecosystem.

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Metabolism and our ecosystem closely coincide with each other. An ecosystem is all living organisms like plants, animals, and microorganisms that interact with nonliving components like the sun, temperature, and climate. Both metabolism and an ecosystem are needed for life forms on planet Earth. An ecosystem has to have producers, consumers, and decomposers. Producers convert inorganic compounds into organic compounds, they are also considered Autotrophs because they are able to do this process themselves. Consumers feed on those that produce or other consumers, they can also be known as Heterotrophs that feed on organic compounds or Chemotrophs that feed on chemical compounds. Lastly decomposers convert organic compounds in dead organisms and make them into inorganic compounds. Eiseley stated in a quote “Man’s death will collapse into dust and vanish back into “expected” nature.” This can be an example of how decomposers work in our ecosystem when a human is buried and turned to ash, we are put back into the earth and other organisms are able to thrive from our compounds. These are processes for all life and if we do not allow for them to take place, we are not truly taking our one shot at this world seriously.

Animals, like humans are part of life on earth. They are a part of our ecosystem and we could not survive with out them. However, is there such thing as an overpopulation of a species? I believe the answer is yes. Over populations of animals can lead to driving out other species that need the land to thrive, an example would be wild horses grazing on land that is also used for cattle. Horses travel in much larger groups and cause extensive damage to grazing lands. This would leave hardly any grass left for the cows to graze on when it comes time for them to be put on that land. This is due to the land becoming so damaged it is unable to recuperate the plants needed for the cattle to survive. Hunting helps to manage overgrowth in animal populations. It is highly regulated so that the species can not go extinct or that they become so small that they are no longer protected. Us humans are able to survive, by consuming animals. Animals are then more likely to reproduce which in turn influences growth to help maintain a healthy animal population. All this combined would, in turn, make it so that all species have adequate land use and less decimation. I believe Leopold would agree based on his statement “I would rather assert positively that decent land-use should be accorded social rewards proportionate to its social importance.” Not being able to positively maintain our lands and species we are decreasing our one shot at living in this world.

Would it not be safe to say that our soil is one of the most important things to supporting our lives on planet Earth? It helps us grow food and allows for stability of living and industrial nonliving things to move about the planet. Farming is a huge part of this world for food consumption and many humans depend on their lively hoods in this industry. To farm you need some sort of land that has a good soil enrichment, this goes back to having a world with a healthy metabolism, ecosystem, and species regulation. Many farmers or ranchers are from small towns, and run their farms as family owned businesses. However, with new industrialized machinery, as well as genetically modified food production, coming to a new norm in society, this is jeopardizing family-owned farms and ranches that use more environmentally friendly chemicals and machinery. Big industrial companies release harmful bi-products that have horrible side effects or even death on all living organisms on Earth. Many large companies are buying our farmlands and placing huge warehouse on them, some for modified food processing and others for cars, plastic, glass, oil, etc. This all is releasing more chemicals into our environment creating and unhealthy place for other living things to reproduce. Our technology has come so far in food and other industrial industries that we are now trying to fix our environment and cure diseases as well as illnesses that we have never seen. Now that we have faced the terrible damage we inflicted on our environment; ingenuity is working overtime to find technological solutions (Goodal). This reflects that our technology is becoming our nemesis. Modern-day farming is a massive contributor due to large crop production and when cutting down crops it exposes massive amount of soil heating up the earth thus becoming a contributor to global warming. I believe that we need to resort back to having more family-oriented farming, ranching, and agriculture in order to preserve our one shot at living on planet Earth.

If humans were to take a few steps back and do some things like how they were done in the past (like farming), I believe that we would also be more willing to find the intrinsic worth in nature. By this I mean showing respect for the land, the air we breathe, what we consume and how that process came about as well as the paths we choose to walk. If we can respect and nurture the living things around us, that in it self could make a huge difference in how our world evolves. Rachel Carson wrote;

“All through the night the cries of curlews and plovers and knots, of sandpipers and turnstones and yellowlegs, drifted down from the sky. The mockingbirds who lived on the island listened to the cries. The next day they would have many new notes in their rippling, chuckling songs to charm their mates and delight themselves.”

This is telling us how the mockingbirds listened to others and incorporated others melody or song into their own. They are taking and using what nature and others bird species have taught them and making it theirs. Realizing the intrinsic worth of nature will help us at our one shot on planet earth.

Taking in everything that we discussed, I would say that an ecological conscience is pretty important, would you agree? If we are able to solidify that our environment is changing due to human impact, that is enough for me to say we need to start thinking about how to do things differently. Think about what you do every day. Is there one change that you could make to help out our planet? I know that I could use less paper so that will allow for fewer trees to be cut down, in turn this helps with providing us humans with more oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. I can also start taking my grocery bags to the store instead of getting plastic bags every time. Plastic facilities pollute the air making it very unhealthy to breathe in for humans and also making the metabolism processes much harder for other organisms. I can also use more organic substances in my soil. For instance, when all the leaves fall off of the trees, I can put all those leaves into my garden and rototill it into the soil to provide more organic nutrients instead of using fertilizer when planting next spring. This helps with providing more substances for metabolic processes to take place within the soil as well as creating a more diverse ecosystem.

What we do today, will impact what happens tomorrow which will impact everyone’s future. This does not pertain to just us as humans, but all life as it exists on this planet, living and nonliving. We need to find it in our hearts to be more ecologically conscience, love our planet and all that thrives within it. If each individual does one thing to make a difference, this world would be in a much better state. Take care of our planet, after all, it is the only one we get to live on and we as humans need to do a far better job at taking care of it.

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