Dear Friends,

Can you name this Beautiful Creature?

I know that last week I told you that this week I’d be introducing you to some incredible people and organizations that are “hitting the nail on the head” when it comes to providing leadership and right action towards reversing our de-evolutionary path. But, please indulge me one more week of preparing the way for you to meet these folks. You won’t be disapointed!

Look at this beautiful creature on the right. All that is left for him are the remotest and craggiest of cliffs and ridges, where most of us would never dare to go. His normal lowland habitat destroyed by our encroaching human population. He is the national symbol for his host country. Any idea of who he is and the country for whom he is their honored symbol?

We have made a mess of our planet—our heritage. Because of our actions habitats
are vanishing, ecosystems are crashing. As Eric Chivian, author of Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends On Biodiversity, says:

During the past fifty years our actions have resulted in the loss of roughly one-fifth of Earth’s topsoil, one-fifth of its land suitable for agriculture, almost 90% of its large commercial marine fisheries, and one-third of its forests, while we now need these resources more than ever, as our population has almost tripled during this period of time, increasing from 2.5 million to more that 6.5 million.

We have so damaged the habitats in which other species live that we are driving them to extinction at a rate that is hundreds to even thousands of times greater than natural backgoround levels. As a result, some biologists have concluded that we have entered what they are calling the sixth great extinction event.

Let’s focus in this email on what nature gives us—for free; and what through our calloused misdeeds are on the verge of loosing forever. These free gift from the ecosystems are called ecosystem services.

Ecosystems can be looked at as small micro-environments like our GI Tract (which in reality isn’t small at all when you consider the population of 100 trillion microbes living there), or looked at as a macro ecosystem like the oceans (which, of course, can be divided into many smaller ecosystems such as the coral reefs)—ecosystems within ecosystems within ecosystems.

For the sake of describing Ecosystem Services we will divide Earth up into six mega-ecosystems—forests, grasslands, wetlands, streams, estuaries and oceans. Their services are provided by means of natural cycles ranging from the short life cycles of microbes that breakdown toxic chemicals to the long term and planet wide cycles of water and of elements such as carbon and nitrogen that sustained life for hundreds of million of years.

Let’s look at forests. They provide goods such as food, timber and medicines; help maintain the water cycle, stabilize local climates and provide critical habitat for plants, animals and microbes. Forest trees and plants store carbon and help slow human-caused global climate change. The forest canopy and leaf litter protect the soil surface from the erosive power of rain. The canopy purifies air by filtering particulates and providing chemical reaction sites where pollutants are detoxified. Forrest soils purify water and act as a massive filter. Deep forest soils store large volumes of water. Forest tree roots bind soils and prevent erosion.

Fritjof Capra in his book, The Web of Life make the following fascinating point:

We tend to believe that plants grow out of the soil, but in fact most of their substance comes from the air. The bulk of the cellulose and the other organic compounds produced through photosynthesis consists of heavy carbon and oxygen atoms, which plants take directly for the air in the form of CO2. Thus the weight of a wooden log comes almost entirely from the air. When we burn a log in a fireplace, oxygen and carbon combine once more into CO2, and in the light and heat of the fire we recover part of the solar energy that went into making the wood. (178).

Grasslands, wetlands, our forests all provide the services of cleaning air, purifying water, mitigating floods, controlling erosion, detoxifying soils, modifying climate. Not to mention the services of providing food, fuel wood, fiber, medicines, nutrient cycling (the cycling of life-essential nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements required for the chemistry of life), pollination and photosynthesis. Lest not we forget the aesthetics of nature, the intellectual stimulation it provides. It is the home base for most all of life.

Is there really any doubt, that when we say that in the last 50 years we have lost one-third of our forests, one-third of our wetlands, one-third of our grasslands, as to why we are seeing a sickening of our human species along with other higher species— chronic diseases, infectious diseases spreading all over the world, a world that is unable to feed itself, human being that are unable to reach their full genetic potential and weather patterns that are increasingly erratic, while at the same time continually and persistently warming. The checks and balance of nature is being severely disrupted.

Finally, as the mounting forces of destruction are on the rise and gaining momentum, so too are the forces that are fighting for an abundant life of rich biodiversity—a balanced healthy holistic world. Next week you will meet some of these people, and a movement that make alot of sense for all of us to get behind.

Sincerely yours,

Seann Bardell

Clinical Note:

Tomorrow, on February 11th at 5:00pm PST I will be conducting a webinar entitled, DeEvolution and the Ecology of the Microbiome. It will be 45 minutes of lecture and fifteen minutes for discussion—starting at 5:00pm and ending at 6:00 sharp. Let me know if you would like to join us, and I will send you a link.
The Last Quiz Answer: The jungles of central Africa are home to the forest elephant. Unlike their better-known cousins, the African elephants of the open savannahs, forest elephants are adapted to living in dense woodlands. They have straight tusks, for instance, since curved ones might get caught in vines and brush. And they tend to be smaller and stockier than savannah elephants. Scientists have found that they have a home range that might be up to 2,000 square kilometers [1,243 square miles] — that’s almost as big as the range of a savannah elephant. Unfortunately, forest elephants are getting hammered by poachers and by destruction of their forest habitat. The population appears to be shrinking, except in a few small areas. The last reliable survey in the late 1980s showed about 170,000 animals. There are probably less than 100,000 today. For a very cool website on these magnificent creatures click here on jungle elephants.

Next week we will be talking about Food Inc., and the week after that an organization called Facing the Future. There is much for us to be excited about and hopeful for. If you haven’t  seen the movie, Food Inc, rent it or buy it. It will put a fire in your belly for change.