Re: NANFA-- environment and the presidency

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Thu, 24 Feb 2000 01:55:01 -0500

> I don't pretend to understand everything. But I know
> that enough screw-ups have been made by people
> claiming to "understand" how ecosystems work, so why
> should I expect you or any other person to be
> different? Anyone who thinks they can go in and
> successfully "restore" an ecosystem to its original
> state and/or reintroduce species that have gone
> extinct in that location is flattering themselves.

It is not so much about restoring a system to it's origional state as it is
taking a dysfunctional system and restoring it to a better state of health. There
is no such thing as an origional state anyway since even pristine ecosystems
change over time and are even damaged by natural catastrophes- fires, floods,
hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and asteroid strikes. Postindustrial societies are
inherriting or will inherrit damaged and dysfunctional ecosystems that are worth
restoring to some semblance of the kind of order that existed before. Not the
same, but people will enjoy them and the other species that come to live in these
places- either as a result of translocation or natural migrants will not

We don't know everything, but we have learned a lot about how ecosystems
function. We know that ecosystems are in some ways delicate, but also have
resiliance. We also know that the individual elements of these systems will not
only fit together (some assembly required) but work themselves into an ordered
regime that will succeed over time evolving on its own to greater levels of
complexity. Most of the elements are pre-programmed to interact with each other
so when missing peices are restored, they will often fit back in place and run -
other times they won't. Not all will succeed , but that's not grounds for not
trying. Life must go. Nothing worth doing would ever get done if we waited on the
answers to every uncertainty.
There comes a time when a society - if it is to remain viable - must choose
reasonable risks and exporation of new possibilities over bureaucratic certainty.

Natural systems are really chaotic in the way they come together and function.
That's what makes ecology so interesting and eco-engineering an exciting
discipline. The results never come out exactly as predicted but in most cases the
outcome is rewarding.


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