How much diversity do we need? Take animals for example. I watched a show on the BBC a while ago about the science of growing animals from their genetic code. Not only could this help endangered species, but it could even bring back extinct ones (no dinosaurs, please). The comment was made that an increase in diversity for the animal kingdom would be a good thing. This prompted a question: do we need tigers, for example? Could the world get along without them?
I did a little research. Variety is the spice of life. In fact, it is more than just spice. It’s the main ingredient. The greater the amount of diversity in our ecosystem, the better the balance.
The food chain needs all the balance it can get. Tigers, in answer to my earlier question, rule as powerful predators so that the lower rings on the chain don’t proliferate to the point where their amassed numbers could disrupt the ecosystem. Aside from food chain duties, some animals play an important role in teaching us humans how to behave in a more civilized manner. Elephants are a prime example. Their social structure, in my opinion, is superior in several ways. I wrote about this in an earlier blog, “An Elephant on Hold” where we learned how elephants support one another in ways that humans would consider preposterous.
Plants, as most of us know, are crucial for human survival. There are over 400,000 species so far identified. Scientists are discovering more all the time. Over 250,000 plants produce flowers. How many types of flowers do we need? A rose, a tulip, a daisy – wouldn’t that do? Could you live without roses? Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same… Some rose bushes live to be over 1,000 years old. That’s why the rose has always been the symbol of undying love.
Other plants have values directly related to our health. For centuries, people have used botanicals to ease all sorts of ailments. There’s a plant called, “Lamb’s Ear”. It’s a silky soft fuzzy broad-leafed low growing meandering plant. Leaves are about 4-5 inches long and an inch or two in diameter. Roman soldiers used them as band-aids for the obvious protection for a wound and also the fact that the plant has antiseptic properties.
If diversity in the wild world is so important, why do we humans tend to shy away from variety within our own ranks? Take big-box retailers for example. You’d think these gigantic warehouse chains would contain more variety than any consumer could ever want. Au contraire! The cereal isle tells all – four, maybe five choices. Laundry soap? a few top brands. What is this telling the shopper? Look, lady, just pick one and move on.
I heard recently that more and more websites are popping up catering to people of like mentalities, e.g., similar beliefs, backgrounds, etc. This magnetized clustering is creating a level of social ignorance that is riddled with potential problems. In effect, people are choosing to go through life with social blinders on. The operative credo is: the less you know the better. They’re excused from taking social responsibility for fellow earth dwellers because of their self-imposed ignorance – or are they? Social inbreeding gives birth to social misfits which can weaken a society.
It’s ironic to me that humans are limiting their connections with one another when we have the opportunity to connect with anyone of any society now through the internet.
Social diversity or social extinction – take your pick.