Saturday, August 05, 2006

Invasive Species

The Age of Sail brought about a kind of globalisation that the world hadn't seen before.The balance of power could very well have swayed the way of China, had they not gone insular. This decision to forfeit the waters of the world left the competitive playground in the hands of Europe, who evolved their technology in intergroup tournaments and surpassed every other civilisation at the time.
The passing of the Middle Ages had taken a heavy toll on Europe, which had fallen prey to some of the most disastrous plagues and communicable diseases. But they emerged stronger, and more resilient, for those that survived embodied genes that could resist diseases that wiped out the last generation.

And so, equipped with a juggernaut of Guns, Germs, Steel and Christ, a highly divisive Europe carved out the western hemisphere between themselves.

But let's stop thinking of history in terms of victory and conquest. Man is a social animal, who orchestrates and domesticates an ecosystem around him. Goats, rats, pigs, chickens, animals you wouldn't consider predatory, with regards to their normal food chain. So when these men first stepped on lands that hadn't been inhabited for millions of years by any kind of mammalian life, a Zerg Rush of epic propotions ensued.

When the British took over India, they introduced Penicillin and vaccines, tyres and petrol, steam engines and sewers, radios and newspapers, and bogus titles for subjugated kings like The Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire. They overwrote many aspects of life and culture, the effects of which are still felt today. Their temperament was similar to the Lantana, a cute little flower plant which many parts of India’s forests, destroying its biodiversity.

Which is perhaps why I laugh with glee when a fellow goon's stoner buddy tossed Kudzu seeds all over his town. Kudzu is an incredibly fast growing unstoppable vine plant that can grow at the rate of a feet a day, and dig in 6 feet into the soil.

From the wiki: "Kudzu is sometimes referred to as "the plant that ate the South", a reference to how kudzu's explosive growth has been most prolific in the southeastern United States due to nearly ideal growing conditions."

If you guys think that shit is bad, visit any Pacific island that was heavily bombed in WW2. Once the US liberated those islands, they realized that they had often bombed them so extensively that they had killed a good chunk of the vegetation, creating an erosion problem that threatened to destroy the rest. As a stop-gap measure to save the plant life on the islands, the Army found the fastest growing weeds and shrubs and whatnot from all over, and carpet-bombed the islands with seeds from them.

Hiking in the Marianas is effectively like trekking through massive weed gardens. With the exception of a handful of tree species, it's effectively a blanket of kudzu across everything (the "everything" being primarily other weeds and weed-like shrubs).

No comments: