The wild environment isn’t just about trees and bears and other forms of charismatic mega flora and fauna. I heard Bill Gates on NPR the other day talking about the great strides his foundation has made against malaria and how we may be on the brink of actually eradicating polio forever. Diseases play a huge part of any natural ecosystem, and we’ve been trying to drive them to extinction for centuries.
In other words, we pick and choose all the time what should be “wild” and what shouldn’t.
Last year, the salmon catch in southeast Alaska was the largest ever recorded. It may have been because controversial scientist-businessman Russ George, under contract with the Haida tribe in British Columbia, dumped 120 tons of iron sulfate into the ocean. The idea was to create a phytoplankton bloom that would in turn create feeding grounds for zooplankton, which in turn provide food for salmon and, in turn, the critters that eat them. Supporters believe George’s experiment was a win-win-win all the way up the food chain, for grizzly bears and lox-and-bagel aficionados alike. Skeptics want more data, arguing — fairly — that the experiment needs more study.