Filed under: Corn, dogs, history, weather | Tags: change, Corn, dogs, history, weather
I’ve recently been in a conversation on technology in agriculture with another blogger that has started me thinking of all the way we humans shape the land, plants and the animals around us. Humans are the only creature that has affected so many parts of the world that they live in. Our actions have been far reaching, but they are not all recent.
We wonder at the modern marvels man produces, but some of his greatest marvels are not at all recent.
Perhaps the most changed animal on the earth is the dog. The dog most likely started out as a small wolf like animal. Once it took up residence with man, he began to shape it’s destiny. Today the multitude of dog forms from huge to tiny can all trace their way back to that same ancestor. And yet, if the dog was allowed to live in the wild, it would return to something very like its ancestor. We have created an artificial creature, in an artificial environment to meet our needs. Truly amazing.
Man’s shaping of plants is no less amazing. For millions of years mankind has chosen the best of the plants around him, nurtured and protected them, and changed them. Perhaps the most changed is Zea Maize, what is known as corn in the U.S. Maize comes in many forms, some suited to different climates, some to different uses. When people in the U.S. think of corn they usually think of sweet corn, that wonderful vegetable of summer. Another type of corn they think of is pop corn, a theater snack and household staple of the pantry. There is also, flint corn, pod corn, and the most common of all, dent corn.
Dent corn is the most misunderstood of the corn types. It is mainly used for animal feed, and as an industrial feed stock. One of its larger uses in recent times is for the production of ethanol. Dent corn itself is amazingly flexible. It can be changed easily by mixing specialized stocks to fill all kinds of industrial needs. It is also one of the easiest plants to bio-engineer. Despite all of this, dent corn will readily mix with other corn types and revert back to something more like what the Europeans found when they came to the Americas.
Mankind has shaped the land, sometimes to his detriment, by pushing back water and digging out minerals. We have done so much to shape the world, but like the dog, and maize, if mankind turns his back, it will go wild again. When we are most comfortable, there will be an earthquake, volcano or flood to remind us that we live in a wild world. Just thinking.
Filed under: history, science, time | Tags: change, climate, future, history, man, mankind, pollution, survive
Life will survive, but at what cost.
The diversity and tenacity of life on our planet are really remarkable. There is some form of life everywhere. There is not a place anywhere where some kind of life cannot make it. The history of our world since life first started shows the tenacity of the life forces at work. When one form of life dies out another eventually comes to replace it.
Now comes man, the ultimate surviver. Man not only has found a way to live on every piece of dirt, rock and ice on our planet, he is digging deep into the earth, and flying out beyond the atmosphere. In the process he has changed every place he goes. I’m not sure it is for the better.
The growing population of humankind has spread his home and his garbage into every environment on earth. I’m afraid we may now be going a bit too far. Past history of the earth says that whenever a species becomes too populous, something comes along to reduce it’s numbers. What will be the downfall of man?
China is now struggling with the effects of too many people. They may be a warning for us all. So many skies are brown where China’s people live, and they are struggling to make things better, but even they recognize that it will take years to turn things around. The effects of the fast paced development in the Chinese cities have caused so many problems for land, water and air. This has lead to health problems for plants, animals and people near them.
The more developed countries also went through their periods of rapid growth and pollution problems. Although they have cleaned up their worst pollution problems, their fight is not over. Although the rivers may no longer burn, there are terrible problems yet to be conquered.
And yet the earth and it’s life will survive. Humans have such a short life that they do not realize how much will and can change. We may yet kill ourselves off with our wars, our greed or our pollution, but the earth and life will still be here. Volcanos, earthquakes, flood and fires will eventually cleanse the land. Millions of years from now the earth will have recycled itself. Will there be people around to see it? What creature will be on top in that far off time? Only the future knows.
Life will survive, mankind will eventually pay the cost.