Human Activity Changes North American Ecosystems Drastically
A recent study by a University of Stanford Postdoctoral Researcher M. Allison Stegner has revealed that human activity changes North American ecosystems drastically, causing large-scale changes to ecosystems and which could affect species and even whole ecosystems.
The study is not done on human activity only, but it goes deep into natural ecosystems to determine how North American ecosystems have changed over time.
Using fossilized pollen as a measuring standard, Stegner was able to find changes in the form of ecosystem and climate events from 1700 C.E. or 11,000 years ago.
Not only did the author conclude that human activity has had a major impact, but they also concluded that this type of change can have lasting effects on ecosystems, and even the entire climate system.
It has been documented that human activity has had a profound impact on North American ecosystems in many ways, including through the destruction of natural resources, changes in species composition, the introduction of new predators and parasites, and even through habitat destruction, including legal and illegal deforestation.
When humans begin to alter the natural environment, especially if we are doing so in ways that threaten native species or ecosystems, then we are changing the makeup of the North American ecosystems. This can have long term effects on ecosystems and the climate, and even the weather, since these changes can trigger drastic temperature shifts, extreme weather events and drought, which can cause widespread damage to ecosystems, infrastructure and lives.
Stegner’s findings were that over the last 250 years, humans have had a profound effect of doubling the major seasonal changes/events. From a recorded 10 changes per 100 years, to 20 per 100 years, in the last 250 years.
It is difficult to believe that humans have never altered the natural ecosystems around them. This is an assumption that is difficult to make because the evidence shows that humans have always been present, from the very beginning of the planet. However, when one considers the way in which humans have impacted ecosystems around the globe, this becomes even more difficult to make this assumption, because humans have not always taken the time to observe and document their own actions.
We are able to do this through modern technology, but that is a very small part of the total picture. When the technology used by humans in the past was so different from the technology we use today, and when they were not yet developed enough to see how the effects they were having on the planet, then it is hard to believe that humans could have been passive observers of their own effect. Now, with advanced scientific methods of observation and recording, we have the ability to witness how people have changed the environment around us, in ways we did not even know they were capable of.
Stegnar reportedly utilized a variety of scientific methods and statistical analysis to come to these telling conclusions.
The results of this study are shocking, but they do provide a starting point for understanding why the human impact on North American ecosystems has been dramatic, and what our impacts are doing to the world as a whole. In addition, this study might help us understand how we can keep our environments healthy, without altering them so radically that we destroy our ecosystems altogether.
We need to become aware of all the ways in which human activity has impacted ecosystems throughout the world, because if we allow human activity to continue on its current track, we will be in for a major shock. This is not only good news for those who live in North America, but for those living in other parts of the world as well.
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