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Biodiversity and the Society of Superlatives


Biodiversity and the Society of Superlatives

Esteban Suárez

Traveling through the jungles of Yasuní National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon, it is difficult not to feel stunned by the amount of biological diversity in these forests. Writing about the experience, the difficulty lies in not succumbing to the exhausted turns of phrase and repetitive metaphors commonly used in attempting to depict the biological riches of these ecosystems.


Groups have been struggling for centuries to get the dominant powers to pay attention to the QUALITIES of what predatory industry eliminates without a clue. Two western ethnobotanists who have been involved in the struggle for decades and have honed presentations are Mark Plotkin and
Wade Davis. These talks are - IMHO - very valuable because they reorient from the dominant narrative at a time when it is so badly needed. Save for a time when you can kick back and really pay attention to stunning narratives.


Wade Davis brilliant! Thank you.


We come from nature and or OF it, not above it. We should be humbled by its life creating force and not see it as another money making venture.


ONe must be extremely careful with combative and vague headlines:
In FACT large contiguous undisturbed areas are vitally necessary everywhere on earth.
the author should know well the Theory of Island Biogeography

(and for laypersons: Theory in science means a long established factual description which no credible hypothesis has discredited. the word you ALL seek when bandying about the word theory, is in fact Hypothesis, and often in the nonscientific pidgin colloquial: Speculation. Do NOT use the word theory unscientifically, even if your mother demanded it. Doing so will just invite crazed falsehoods as response by the ignorant)

While lowland tropics do have astonishing biodiversity from tree to tree, acre to acre, hectare to hectare, this diversity exists because of profoundly functional adaptations, and should NEVER be denigrated , especially by ecologists or biologists.

To do so is almost surely mere politicization.
Western Ecuador has lost almost all its native forests in the past 100 years, and the earth has never existed for the mere introduction of excess omnivorous human populations laying waste to it, paving over vast terrains, polluting air, water, lands, with fossil fuel extraction - Colombia’s and Ecuador’s native tribes have been ignored , persecuted and abused by these fossil fuel corporations and their puppets.

But to return to the absolute necessity for huge, connected natural landscapes where organisms are not mere tools, trophies, prizes, or “pests”:
Large predators have now been proven to be exxential to systems - without their presence in ecologically effective numbers, herbivores (and omnivores) overpopulate, destroying enough to starve themselves and to cause evolutionary emergence of communicable disease - the latter almost unheard of in normal, highly species-diverse living systems. I have studied this deeply and the issue is too encompassing to discuss here, but there are population numbers, densities and connectivities too dense for the good of any single species. Ours has vastly overbloomed worldwide, and while you hear little to nothing about it, there are constant emergent viruses (like your “flu”) and variations - AIDS and some other slow-acting deadly viruses are actually more prevalent, in more variants, than it was when it was popular to complain about it. Malaria (falciparum) is overcoming the last ancient remedy; that remedy was protected by WHO in a cocktail, and as a last resort. And malaria is a complex organism with four stages, and has brilliantly evolved ways of keeping immune systems from removing it.

But I digress - complex variation in a species is vital because without variations, such organisms exact greater tolls on their hosts or prey.
Predators tend to exist in small, highly dispersed numbers, and require safe connections between their patch and periodic healthy habitat. Humans are NOT giving them this.
Such diseases as CWD can only be relieved by predators - dimwit and limited-sensory humans CANNOT detect such deadly diseases in their early stages, and have only succeeded in supporting increased disease in North America for all the reasons I indicated so far here.
EO Wilson, suggests that we allow 1/2 of earth to exist without exploitation and human occupation and damage. Ecologists who more deeply study the issue tend to cluster around the necessity for humans to allow natural systems and processes to occur without human intrusive damage or exploitation of about 2/3 of earth, for a return to the steady oscillations of normal ecosystems.

1/3 of earth is certainly more than enough to devastate for social status and “wealth.”


Loss of habitat is generally regarded as the main cause of biodiversity decline. In terms of such decline, how we depict biological riches seems less significant than human encroachment on natural habitats.

Why do even ecologists shy away from our overpopulation and inequality issues, the ones that most affect habitat and loss of biodiversity?