As I have spent the better part of this frigid winter chasing snowy owls, I can’t help but think about the tenuous state of the planet. Like the survival of our ephemeral visitors from the north, the ecology of the Earth lies somewhere between stability and chaos. The snowy owl lives on the proverbial razor’s edge. With its tight winter budget, it must expend just enough energy to find food, but no more than the energy it gains from a successful hunt. So narrow is this budget, that many survive only to die during their migration north to the summer breading grounds. It is likely that the fine line differentiating stability from chaos is nothing new, but merely an observation that I and many others have made.
Discussions about healthy ecosystem dynamics and catastrophic perturbations have been recurrent blog topics for me. Over four years ago I wrote about Project 350, and the Carbon Dioxide threshold we were quickly approaching. 350.org continues to advocate for Carbon Dioxide limits even as we blasted past the 400 ppm marker in May, 2013. In September 2012, I authored a rant about Minnesota’s senseless wolf season, and to this day, I continue to promote an end to a wolf harvest in a state that identifies itself with the very animal it is willing to kill. In December 2012, I shared my fears about the shrinking savannah and potential loss of Africa’s beloved megafauna. So with the intense cold that seems a paradox on this otherwise warming planet, I want to be that voice; a reminder about why it is important to care. Earth’s biodiversity is a precious present gifted to us all by the evolutionary process. This process is the very thing that has led to this consciousness capable of reflecting upon its own existence. Each and every organism, from the most diminutive microbe to the giants of the sea, are survivors. Shaped by constraints and limits, life competes, survives and thrives through the passage of a genetic self into subsequent generations.
As humanity continues to bust at the seams of the tight jeans that is the planet Earth, I am in awe the survivors. These are the ones that remind me that we all live on an edge between stability and chaos.
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