An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 22, 2008
Issued rom Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve Headquarters in
Jalpan, Querétaro, MÉXICO
ECOLOGY OF A
ROPE ACROSS THE ROAD

The area around Jalpan is so isolated that little industry has taken hold here. Mountain slopes, on the average, are actually revegetating as people abandon cornfields and ranchos to go live in cities or work in the US. When you cross the Eastern Sierra Madres as we did Wednesday and start descending toward Xilitla, not only does the vegetation suddenly become much lusher and the climate rainier, but also population density skyrockets and mountain slopes start looking very sad as farmers put more and more cornfields on steeper and steeper slopes, on thinner and thinner, fast-eroding soil. We were in that environment across the Sierra when we encountered the man with his scowling face and rope across the road.

Overpopulation results in usually-friendly, hard- working, well-meaning people being pitted against one another in competition for limited natural resources. History and current events show that the ecological causes of such conflicts (not enough natural resources for everyone) usually become irrelevant or even forgotten as mutual hatred and fear is stirred up by those achieve leadership positions fulminating against the neighboring "evil doers," the "infidels," the "terrorists." Then the violence comes as a consequence of hurt pride, of patriotism or religious fervor, or of blind reaction to fear.

If in a disciplined manner we keep focused on the ecological roots of such conflicts, the solutions to avoiding them become obvious:

These are the techniques used by Nature to keep Her own house in order. Population control is managed with starvation, disease and conflict. Functionally equitable distribution of resources is assured through "survival of the fittest," with the less fit going extinct and the survivors being left hustling fulltime for resources. And one could say that nothing is better "planned" than Nature with all Her interconnected, interdependent parts.

The wonderful thing about humans, then, is that we have big brains with which we're able to figure out such problems as how to control our numbers without depending on the more traditional agencies of starvation, disease and conflict. We're able to plan things down to the tiniest detail. And we can be smart enough to know when to stop perpetually rushing about doing busywork, pause, and think a bit about what we're doing, and... WHY!

Poor man with his rope across the road. He wasn't even personally responsible for his mountain slope's problems. The troublemakers had been those before him who, as their valley filled with homes, their forests disappeared and their soil grew thinner, just kept piously and politically correctly doing what they'd always done.

Maybe the scowling man with his rope would make a good icon for the current fight against global warming. Facebook Icon.