Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground

The seed collectors of the world get their day in the spotlight today. My two favorites:

"...the 8,000 unique species of fijnbos [in South Africa] are a real worry."

"Tony Kirkham, tree specialist at the world famous Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in southwest London, noted that the Macedonian Leaf Miner moth had invaded in recent years and was attacking -- and eventually killing -- Horse Chestnut Trees."

Basically, some plants species are dying in response to the climate change, and some are doing a bit better. The feeling is, generally, that plants dying is a bad thing.

In markets, it's commonly assumed that a business dying is also a bad thing. It has been shown, however, that business failure is an indicator of economic progress. If businesses are failing, capital is being directed from less valued uses to more valued uses; entrepreneurial spirit is therefore strong. Preventing "bad" businesses from failing hinders the ability of capital to find its best use.

Can the same be said for plant species? Is an effort to keep all plant species alive making the overall plant regime...weaker? Inefficient?

In other science news: the unintended consequences of wearing a bicycle helmet.

1 comment:

TJ said...

Plant species dying can be considered a bad thing for two reasons:
1. A lack of diversity weakens the overall "plant regime." If there is another significant environmental change, none of the remaining plants may survive even though plants that had previously died off might have. Unlike in the business world, plant entrepreneurship (creation of new species) occurs at a relatively slow rate.
2. Scientists may have a signficant amount left to learn about these plants and the ecosystem in which they exist. If the ecosystem or the plants are destroyed, this learning is lost.