Sunday, August 14, 2005

Environmental Wierdness II

First we have the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl helping to increase the local biodiversity around the area, it turns out that Nature follows it up by reporting a study that found military training grounds have higher biodiversity than the nature reserves around it;
"[Tanks] replace to some degree the processes that have been stopped," Warren says. The same goes for fires caused by bombing. "We've trained generations of people that fire is bad," he says, "but in fact it's crucial for ecosystems."
I think this is an interesting point that has been made. In an attempt to 'save' the environment we've prevented what are natural events from occuring. Fires, floods and other means of destruction are processes that shape and remodel the environment. As opinion has changed in ecology over the years, it's been found more and more that areas that go without high amounts of disruption are actually worse off than those without. It may seem completely silly that areas that have nuclear disruption, military blasts and vehicles being moved through it would be doing better for endangered species than ones without but this does seem to be the case. It's probable that many of those species are endangered because we are denying them habitats they would get after natural disasters cleansed the area.

In many respects, by attempting to save the environment we are possibly reducing the total biodiversity and as the authors conclude, human activities that disrupt portions of it like a military testing range actually help. This doesn't mean we should go around blowing holes in every forest however or getting the military to declare war on Jellystone park. Though then again, I have heard that Yogi Bear does have stocks of PBMDs (Picnic Baskets of Mass Destruction).