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Re: [Channel-talkbio] Unit 12: Biodiversity

From: Mary Johnston <mjohnston@haverhill-ps.org>
Date: Wed Mar 28 2007 - 08:11:26 EDT

Hi Karen and Ed,
   This week's unit was biodiversity and what an expansive topic this
is! It's funny that this was the topic for the week because my husband
rented the movie "Happy Feet" and we started watching it. At the
beginning is a fairly long commercial targeted at the overfishing of our
oceans and how this is contributing to the loss of biodiversity. There
is a campaign for restaurants and even seafood companies to label their
products with a seal of approval which basically indicates that the
seafood caught met current fish/wildlife preservation guidelines. It was
good to see a big budget commercial movie that actually had a
conscience. I have thought many times about over-fishing myself because
my husband and I sometimes like to go deep sea fishing and the captain
of the boat is always using radar to target the schools of fish, so it
is essentially always a "big catch" day. Probably a large number of
people don't eat what they catch. It is more for the glory of getting
the big fish. In any case, I can see seafood prices going on the rise
as they become even more scarce or as with certain types of fish have to
be raised in fish farms because there has been so much oevr-fishing in
the wild.
      I was also thinking about the movie "Medicine Man" with Sean
Connory. This is a fictionalized account of a scientist who finds an
accidental cure for cancer while in the rainforest, but due to human
encroachment and other issues, he cannot ever seem to find it again and
his work is lost. The scientist is against anyone else coming in and
trying to "help" him because he realizes that once many people arrive,
they will start destroying the habitat and that is exactly what happens.
In the end, the cure eludes the scientist and it is a sad story of the
loss of so much biodiversity and so much hope for a cure for cancer.
This movie probably isn't appropriate to show to kids because it has
severe language in it and some students might be immature about the
dress of the native tribes in the film, but I think the general theme
fits right in with this week's topic.
       The more we explore nature, the more variety of living things we
find. These living things are a critical part of our global community.
Understanding and preserving them could prove key to many of our
unaswered questions, particularly in medical science. For example, in
recent years it was dicovered that the Japanes Yew tree can be used to
make the drug taxol which has some anti-cancer effects. If we destroy
or fragment habitats in which this organism and many others thrive, then
we are perhaps hurting our chances of saving many lives and finding
cures to diseases that plague us.
         I know that with population sizes always on the rise and the
ever increasing demand for new buildinggs and restaurants and
technology, that it seems logical for us to keep building more and more.
However, we are all familiar with the idea of carrying capacity. That
is, we reach a critical mass and then begin poisoning ourselves.
Perhaps more preservation and protection laws will make us better
utilize already developed land. For example, instead of destroying
farms to build companies and highways, let's revitalize urban areas.
They are already developed, so if new buildings are put there the impact
on the wildlife will not be so severe and it will provide jobs for
people in the local community. Our own district of Haverhill is
attempting to do this. Instead of just developing the rural part of the
city, there is a group of citizens trying to push for revitalization of
the urban areas. I think this is a great idea. Do you two have any
suggestions to the loss of biodiversity dilemma? Let me know.
Mary Johnston




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Received on Wed Mar 28 10:58:33 2007


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