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Climate Change Hitting the Sea’s Little Guys Too

Posted by Jim on Saturday, March 1st, 2008

From National Geographic News:
“When it comes to climate change, polar bears and sharks may grab the bulk of the headlines—but it’s the threat to the sea’s tiniest creatures that has some marine scientists most concerned. Malformed seashells show that climate change is affecting even the most basic rungs of the marine food chain—a hint of looming disaster for all ocean creatures—experts say. Climate change could drastically reduce sea urchin populations in particular, according to Gretchen Hofmann, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.”

What a strange lede for a story. No dis intended for the writer — it ain’t easy finding the right entry point into a story — but isn’t this hierarchical thinking that continues to contribute to this mess? I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of ‘duh’ and I figure you are too.

Everything is equally important.

Maybe that’s an over-simplification, but I’ll restate it for emphasis: Everything is equally important.

We just found a story a week or so ago about the so-called “potato chip of the oceans” — the pteropod (endangered snail) whose loss would be devastating up the foodchain ladder.

Maybe that’s the problem, we have two metaphors working against each other. The foodchain, which implies everything is connected in a horizontal manner, and the ladder, which implies a movement toward higher and higher (and thus more important) forms.

This is just one more indication that humility is going to be essential to reshaping our relationship to the earth. The polar bear is not more important than the urchin. People are not more important than the polar bear.

That gets us off on the right foot/paw/wing/tube feet/protoplasm.

Jim

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