Archive for the ‘ecology’ Category

There is so much common between plants and humans we might think we move about in parallel worlds. We exhale carbon dioxide and they return oxygen to us. How they manage the world in essentials has a parallel narrative in us. We draw our sustenance from the soil which the plant also does; we conserve so do plants an example of which are those autumnal livery they wear. We thrive in our ability create support in times of necessity and establish contacts with others in terms of what they can add to us in terms of security and exchange ideas; the plants also form such preferential  association with animals as well as  other plants.

We are biased towards visual and auditory signals than chemical imaging we fail to appreciate the plant life in its working. The plants communicate with one another. Take spotted knapweed for instance. Its roots secrete a chemical called catechin that can kill other plants. This triggers them to produce free radicals which sweeps from roots upwards causing cell death. In another case when lima bean pants are attacked by spider mites they call out with distress signals that bring on carnivorous mites to eat up the spider mites. The lima plants in the neighborhood also receive the signal to do the same thing.

Our preferences for persons do not fall within what we would call rational behavior. Love at first sight? (Even before a woman has spoken a word man gets chemical messages: phermeron compounds set off to create signals in the brain.) VNO is located in the lower part of your nose much lower than olfactory cells and are tuned to receive such signals. What does the message say?’ I feel excited!’ Naturally you fall in love. Whereas plants do not err in this they send messages which are lures so they can procreate. Along with blossom colors and shapes, scents attract the bees, wasps flies,butterflies, beetles,moths birds,bats-even mice and lizards if necessary, so 90% of the flowering plants to reproduce. Pollinators are welcome. For every dollar a Quebec apple farmer invests in honey bees to service an orchard crop value goes up by (by 2004 conversion rates) $185. North Dakota sunflower farmers get more and better seeds. From fruits to nuts a big chunk of our diet relies on the interactions between pollinators and flowers.

(ack:Joel Achenbach.NGC-Feb,’o4)



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Malware is a software which is specifically designed to disrupt or damage a computer system. The internet Age is touted as a milestone in the march of human progress . Progress is not in one single innovation but incorporates many innovations into a coherent peak, a position from which it is impossible to come back to older way of doing things.

Once printing became possible and printing presses began churning out books on a mass scale the age of manuscripts that catered to a few had come to a close. The Age of information took the world into a level the Church had no way of controlling. Along came Reformation, Enlightenment and social upheavals in many parts of Europe. We have come far from the Age of printing and in our paperless society we have incorporated many other innovations like dispensing with carrying banknotes and emails that do away with the postal systems. Progress means so many innovations spliced together makes his going back to his old ways useless. But progress comes at a price. So does tinkering with nature. In the interactive cyberspace hacking, malware, phishing are all sad realities. How does malware in Nature works?

There are good reasons to believe that agricultural modernisation programs in Africa created the conditions for the outbreak of Ebola.

Nature fights back always. It is easy to trace direct connection in many cases. For example one may point out the cause of mudslide directly to deforestation. There exists a direct cause-effect relationship between nature and the humans.

Progress for man means more options to simplify life. Whereas nature can show its complexity in creating like a malware in its existing systems. There is oxygen cycle and other systems that Nature  works with. Ecological balance for example is brought about by Nature over a long period of time. Where nature works with long range, man’s progress is much more immediate and need based. He looks to his needs than of other species. We need to think how nature could step in to offset the harm man does to her natural process. Acid rain is a kind of malware Nature sets in motion, that shall have a bearing on what man brings into the relationship.

Let us look at the present scourge of Ebola.

Poverty in Africa means poor rural health care while the rich countries exploiting the resources contribute to their poverty in some manner. It is poverty that drives African villagers to encroach further into the forest, where they become infected with the virus.When villagers hunting and butchering wildlife, or through contact with body fluids from bats become carriers for example Nipah. The effects of land grabs and the focus on certain fruit crop species leads to an *Allee effect.

Where sudden changes in one ecological element causes the mechanisms for keeping populations – bats and viruses to shift. Equilibrium maintained by nature’s mechanisms is upset and the resulting malware make viruses seek alternative hosts than bats.

In Malaysia the introduction of fruit tree crops in cleared forests and agricultural expansion was associated with Nipah virus. Bats feeding on fruit trees infected pigs in pens, which provided a vector for the virus to humans. The Japanese Encephalitis, a virus carried by wild birds which expanded its range due to growing rice and pig farming.

Nature fights back man who can only see profits in their relationship. One might consider this as down side of progress.


  1. The Allee effect is a phenomenon in biology characterized by a correlation between population size or density and the mean individual fitness (often measured as per capita population growth rate) of a population or species. (wikipedia)

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