In the News (from The New York Times): “The Unintended Consequences of Changing Nature’s Balance” In 1985, Australian scientists kicked off an ambitious plan: to kill off non-native cats that had been prowling the island’s slopes since the early 19th century. The program began out of apparent necessity — the cats were preying on native burrowing birds. Twenty-four years later, a team of scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division and the University of Tasmania reports that the cat removal unexpectedly wreaked havoc on the island ecosystem.
With the cats gone, the island’s rabbits (also non-native) began to breed out of control, ravaging native plants and sending ripple effects throughout the ecosystem. “Our findings show that it’s important for scientists to study the whole ecosystem before doing eradication programs,” said Arko Lucieer, a University of Tasmania remote-sensing expert and a co-author of the paper.
My Comment: We, too, must learn all about the system in which we exist – the forces influencing us as well as the forces through which we affect everything – before trying to change anything in the system. Because the system is integral, we now have a domino effect on the global scale, where any small, particular error causes a systemic, global collapse.