Posted by mike on July 10, 2001 at 20:38:54:
In Reply to: Re: BUT in fact that is NOT the case.. posted by kelphead on July 10, 2001 at 19:24:58:
The carrying capacity (K) of any system whether it be a single kelp forest or rocky reef, an entire continent or even an entire planet will fluctuate with local and global environmental change. Also, only about 1 billion people, perhaps less are living that high on the hog with the remaining 5 billion or so doing everything from starving to death to having a poorer but still upwardly mobile existence (to the point where they can own their homes and have component stereo systems, satellite dishes and motorbikes).
K may also be viewed in the short term versus the long term. Ecosystem services, potentially renewable resources (forests, fisheries, abalone populations, Pacific delicious lobster populations) are like money in the bank (such things are responsible for "K" in the first place). One may pull out just the annual interest and leave the principal untouched (which is akin to just harvesting enough bugs, abs etc so that the original population is not damaged enough to hamper recovery within a year's time). The ecological equivalent to interest earned is known as the Maximum Sustainable Yield.
Alternatively, one can dip into the principal, if they feel that the interest does not provide enough to live on/play on/keep up with the Jonses on. Of course, by dipping into the principal, one will deplete the very thing that gives them their sustenance (cash flow for living expenses).
If one depletes the bank account/population of bugs, abs, calico bass beyond the point where the population can recover, then each year the number of legal bugs, abs or calicos will decrease and one wil lnotice that the big fishies aren't around anymore, and that it's taking more and more work to grab or stick fewer and fewer, smaller and smaller bugs, abs, calico bass etc.
As one dips into their ecological bank account, K decreases with each unsustainable withdrawl of principal. Each time a fishery collapses or rainforest turns to desert or thornscrub, the planetary K is diminished.
One can still survive well enough, and even fill the freezer and make a few babies on diminishing returns........until one day, when the sun sets and winter comes and the bill collector starts banging on the door!
So, even though we humans are probably exceeding the planetary carrying capacity at this moment, we are rapaciously digging into our ecological "principal" and one day we're going to come up dry! and the planetary bill collector will show up at the planetary door and say; BOO! just as he did for sub-saharan Africa. Just as he is doing in Afghanistan. Just as he is starting to do on some Indonesian islands.
Post a Followup