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“Loving nature is not the same as understanding it.” Like the majority of the human race, Harriet in Gary Larson’s [JH1] book, There’s a Hair in my Dirt, “‘not only [misunderstand] the things she saw – vilifying some creatures while romanticizing others, - but also her connection to them’” (Larson 1998). The human race is one big Harriet; we see what is on the surface and never truly understand what lies beneath because we fail to even look. In order to understand ourselves, we must first understand what makes us and shapes us.
Perhaps this is why we should understand biodiversity and the effects it has on us and science. All living things need each other to survive. We need the trees to breathe, they need us to produce CO2 for photosynthesis, and they also need the worms to cultivate the land for rich soil. Hence, we could imply that we need the worms to breathe. It’s more than that, though. The whole concept of biology, or even science, revolves around the intricate connections between all of its aspects.
We need to understand biodiversity to understand our connections to all living things. In order to understand biodiversity we need to use systematics. In order to understand systematics we need to understand taxonomy, phylogeny, evolution and all the other parts. Every part of who we are is saturated in everything around us and yet we do not even try to take the time to absorb a drop of it. Despite the fact that we consider ourselves to be the most intelligent of the species living on this planet today, our egos and independence, our ignorance and manipulation, allow the understanding of our very existence on this earth to pass us by. In order to truly understand who we are, we need to come nose to nose with the earthworms.
In understanding biodiversity, we will be able to harvest the benefits that come from it. Not only will we be able to understand our connections with all living things, but our connection with the environment as well.
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We need to pay attention to what is happening around us.
In this course, I have come across many topics I had yet to hear about or even discuss. Despite that fact that I have been rocking back and forth on the see-saw of confusion and understanding, this course has begun to open my eyes to the very interconnectedness of all things on this earth. Dr. Holt was right when he said “we take every breath of air for granted, because it has always been there.” No, I do not think I could ever put a price on it, but I know that if it came down to it, to breath the air is worth my life; I need it to live! Now, that this has been brought to my attention, I will hold it dear, but unfortunately, like most other things, this jewel will be forgotten, as do many other things we ponder on for a while.
One issue that really struck me was the fact that all living things today are highly evolved because they have come this far in the evolutionary path. We are the latest change in each of our species, highly developed to suit our environments. Darwin picked up on this trend in his studies and built upon it, seen in the following quote: “…and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us…”(Holt and Nelson 2001). Thanks to him, natural selection has connected all the sciences together. It is amazing to think that the man who figured out the connection between all things, was himself connected to nature in a fatal way, bitten by an infectious insect. Nevertheless, like Darwin, if we understand what is going on around us, we can understand ourselves and our connections to the world.
Holt, J. and P. Nelson. 2001. Paths of Science. In: Holt, J. A Tale of Two Stones. Iowa: Dubuque. p. 138-41
Larson, Gary. 1999. There’s a Hair in my Dirt. HarperPerennial. NY.
Savage, Jay. November 1995. Systematics and the Biodiversity Crisis: There is an urgent need for an accelerated accumulation of knowledge about biodiversity.