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Ecological disturbance

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

In the 1970s, scientists of the International Biological Program defined the health of an ecosystem as the evolved diversity of its dominant life forms.

Natural diversity contributes to resilience and stability, which, over long periods of time, allows for a proliferation of mutually beneficial interactions, both within and between species.

A healthy ecosystem becomes more diverse, more resilient, more productive, and, thereby, more healthy. The human species was an evolutionary product of a once-healthy ecosystem.

Conversely, a disturbed ecosystem, in losing diversity, becomes less resilient, less productive, and less healthy over time. If the disturbance continues, the ecosystem is eventually reduced to a weed patch of more primitive organisms eking out an existence in increasingly sterile – or septic – surroundings.

Earth is an ecosystem bound by ecosystem laws. The explosion of the human population is proving the gravest of all ecological disturbances, decimating Earth’s accumulated biological diversity. By failing to control our own reproduction, we are now destroying the health of Earth’s ecosystems and, therewith, the basis for our own existence as a species.

The crucial first step in restoring the health of Earth’s ecosystems – and in ensuring our own species’ survival – is dramatically reducing the human population and, thereby, its devastating consumption, to numbers well below 1 billion.

The most humane way to do this is to voluntarily reduce our reproduction to below replacement. The guideline for every young family worldwide now should be “One will do, but please stop at two.” There’s no time to waste.

Donovan C. Wilkin


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