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Ecosystem Survival

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 5 (1012 words)
Categories: Ecology, Ecosystem, Environment, Environmental Issues, Sustainability
Downloads: 38
Views: 3

The analogy is based on the provocative ecosystem model calling attention on the basic condition of natural recycling systems or round put systems. In ecosystems, waste equals food, and the energy is cascaded along the food chain while the only input to the system is the solar energy from the sun. The basic philosophy in the approach is then to enhance the emergence of system that relies on co-operation between the actors involved, in that they use each other’s waste material and energy as resources and in this way minimise the system virgin material and energy input, as well as the waste and emission output.

It is obvious that a perfect will never happen. But it also seems to be clear that the direction we should follow when striving toward sustainable development is to learn from the ecosystem, although this effort may still be only at a metaphoric level. The ecosystem has demonstrated its capability for sustainability.


The carbon-oxygen cycle exempli?es the way in which an ecosystem operates. “Plants consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen as a waste. Animals, in turn, require oxygen for respiration, but produce carbon dioxide as a metabolic waste”. Ecosystems tend to keep most vital nutrients within the system and bene?t from waste as food. The ‘recycling of energy’ (or utilisation of residual energy) happens through cascading in food chains with the only driver of the system being the input from the (in?nite) solar energy. The system operates with the ‘free energy’ stock of fossil fuels that has (up to now) made it possible to proceed with an unlimited growth paradigm.

One might note that in modernity the limiting factor of economic development is changing now as economic development is limited by natural capital instead of human manufactured capital, e.g. it is the oil in the ground instead of the pumping capacity that is the limiting factor, the ?shing population instead of the ?shing boats, forests rather than saw-mills. The fossil fuel stocks have enabled the system to proceed with a throughput paradigm, i.e. from raw materials to products to wastes. To learn from the ecosystem principle of roundput, when facilitating the emergences, is understood to mean recycling of matter and cascading of energy between the actors of the system. Roundput should promote increasing reliance on renewable resources, on the use of waste materials (recycling of matter), waste energy (cascading of energy) and waste fuels.


Ecosystem survival is based on diversity, diversity in species, in organisms, in interdependency, in ‘cooperation’ and in information. By allowing high ?exibility and adaptability, the existence of diversity can be seen as a long-term survival strategy of ecosystems as a consequence of permanently changing environmental conditions. Also, when the environmental conditions are almost unchanged, but severe resource constraints exist, the coral reefs or tropical rain forests for example, optimise their functions through diversity.

Human economic and systems are also diverse. We can consider the diversity of product structures and supply for instance. However, when understanding the system under one single denominator, i.e. monetary value, the diversity is reduced. In addition, the diversity is reduced through the ideal of mass production, focusing on maximising the rapid increase of homogenised industrial output products. Societal information regarding the ecosystem functions is in many cases based on parameters that are transformed to policy decision making by monetary values. To ?nd monetary substitutes for natural goods is always dif?cult. Therefore, human interventions into the natural ecosystem can be based on incomplete information and tend to be selected without taking into consideration the existing diversity in nature. The ecosystem principle of diversity, when considered in an environmental policy and management, could then mean diversity in cooperation.


The actors in the ecosystem adapt to the local environmental conditions and cooperate with their surroundings in diverse interdependent relationships. Ecosystems need to respect the local natural limiting factors. Regional economic systems have been able to substitute the local natural limiting factors, of energy for instance, with imported fossil fuels. Furthermore, the assumption prevails that natural capital can be substituted with technological innovation or with human manufactured capital and therefore the sustainable use of regional or local resources has in many cases been neglected. To achieve the ecosystem metaphor of locality would need to try and replace imported resources with local renewables and with local waste material and energy sources. Further, transportation would be reduced and cooperation with regional actors (public and private) would be enhanced.

Gradual change

Ecosystem survival relies on the ?ow resource from the sun and the evolution respects the renewal rate of the ecosystem. Further, as evolution happens through the gene as the information storage medium, the information moves through reproduction. This is of course in stark contrast when compared with the cultural evolution, or its subset the ecological revolution. In cultural and ecological evolution, culture serves as the information storage medium. Here lies one of the fundamental problems of the environmental question, as a rapid increase in demand for a certain market good for instance, can lead to the extinction of the natural resource required for its production. As already noted, the ecological evolution has up to now been based on the stock resource in fossil fuels and therefore the renewal rate of the ecosystem has not been respected.

The gradual change metaphor could be interpreted as increasing the reliance on renewable ?ow resources not exceeding their renewal rate instead of using non-renewable stock resources. The system should rely more on sustainable use of renewable natural resources as well as on the use of waste material and waste energy ?ows. In addition, the use of wood wastes, saw-mill wastes, forest residues, waste paper, black liquor from pulp mills, waste pulping chemicals and the implementation of the CHP method in the industry power plants are factors that, when further developed, could make it possible for the whole forest industry to rely almost entirely on renewables or waste material and energy inputs. The use of the gradual change metaphor in projects could also be seen to facilitate a gradual development of system diversity in a potential ecosystem.

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Ecosystem Survival. (2019, Nov 25). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/ecosystem-survival-essay

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