Saturday, February 25, 2017

1972 Ecology Exhibit National Library (Article in Progress)

Dr Abe V Rotor

Ecology was a new subject; it branched out from Biology.
That was in the sixties, the Philippines among the pioneers.
The country is rich in biodiversity in its thousands of islands,
and lush tropical rainforests from Batanes, down to Sulu. 

Ecology became popular as  science of the environment, adopted in school curricula, in the terrtiary and secondary,
integrated with the Department of Natural Resources - DENR,split from then DANR, agriculture becoming independent.
Author points at a tree skeleton, a disturbing symbol on environmental destruction, 1972 exhibit.(See I am Nature Crucified, below)

I was then a fresh graduate in agriculture, took advance courses, trained in farmers' fields, attended seminars;
agriculture was transforming from traditional to modern, 
but at the expense of destroying environmental balance. 

As secretary of a council known for self-sufficiency in rice
and other successful programs, I saw how short range 
economic goals do not guarantee long-term sufficiency.
Modern agriculture is not keen at sustainable productivity.

Agriculture and ecology became strange bedfellows
increased production is not increased productivity,
worse the irreversible destruction of the environment;
in the process, the progressive decline of productivity.  

In early 70's I was among the first professors in ecology,
as an agriculturist and an ecologist I had two roles:
increased production now and sustainability in the future.
indeed a big challenge that haunts the world today. 

 Ecology exhibit in Black and White photographs, National Library 1973 

What has a tree to do with ecology, and vice versa?
I answered that the tree is a small eological system. 
and what is that system?  continued my curious guest.
Ecosystem is a community of interacting organisms.

A single big tree has the elements of an ecosystem.
It includes all of the living things  -  plants, animals,
protists interacting with each other on one hand, 
and with their non-living environments, on the other.

These are weather, earth, sun, soil, climate, atmosphere,
Each member organism has its own niche and role to play,
under dynamic balance scientifically called homeostasis,
that insures the integrity of such relationships over time.  

So I said in that lecture in the exhibit area, "What happens 
if a century old acacia tree - or a forest - if it is cut down?
You are actually killing Nature. Here are twenty scenarios,
touching philosophy, science, faith, and Humanities, too. 
 I am Nature crucified
 Dr Abe V Rotor

                                                               Silhouette of a tree skeleton, QC

I am Nature crucified, Paradise lost to my own guardian
whom my Creator assigned custodian of the living earth;

I am Nature crucified by loggers, my kin and neighbors 
annihilated, forever removed from their place of birth;

I am Nature crucified by slash-and-burn farming dreaded
- once lush forests now bare, desertification their fate;

I am Nature crucified, greedy men with giant machines
take hours to destroy what I built for thousands of years;

I am Nature crucified in the name of progress, countries 
vying for wealth and power, fighting among themselves; 

I am Nature crucified, rivers are dammed, lakes dried up,
swamps drained, estuaries blocked, waterways silted;

I am Nature crucified, the landscape littered with wastes,
gases into the air form acid rain, and thin the ozone layer;

I am Nature crucified, flora and fauna losing their natural
gene pools by selective breeding and genetic engineering;

I am Nature crucified, the earth is in fever steadily rising,
ice caps and glaciers melting, raising the level of the sea; 

I am Nature crucified, privacy and rest becoming a luxury
in a runaway population living on fast lanes, and rat race. 

I am Nature crucified, inequitable distribution of wealth
the source of conflict, greed and poverty, unhappiness;

I am Nature crucified by the promise of heaven in afterlife,
the faithful restrained to regain Paradise while on earth.

I am Nature crucified by scholars of never ending debates,
on the goodness of the human race in fraternal praises;

I am Nature crucified by the many denominations of faith,
pitting God against one another in endless proselytizing;

I am Nature crucified by licenses of freedom in extremism,
human rights and democracy - tools of inaction and abuse;

I am Nature crucified by mad scientists splitting the atom,
building cities, tearing the earth, probing ocean and space;

I am Nature crucified by capitalism, consumerism its tool
to stir economy worldwide, wastefulness it consequence;

I am Nature crucified by the unending pursuit of progress,
the goal and measure of superiority, nation against nation;

I am Nature crucified by man’s folly to become immortal:
cryonics, cloning, robotics - triumvirates for singularity.

I am Nature crucified, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, naked,
abandoned – wishing some souls to stop, look and listen. ~

Author poses with exhibit in ecology 1972 at the National Library, Manila. 

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