Few places on earth have suffered under the hand of mankind more than the Hawaiian island of Kaho'olawe.
Kaho'olawe was never a tropical paradise. It is situated in the rainshadow of Haleakala on Maui, and is very windy. It once was covered with a dry forest and had a few streams that flowed most of the year. But all that changed. From Wikipedia:
"Beginning in 1858, the Hawaiian government leased Kahoʻolawe to a series of ranching ventures. Some of these proved to be more successful than others, but the lack of freshwater was an unrelenting hindrance. Through the next 80 years, the landscape changed dramatically, with drought and uncontrolled overgrazing denuding much of the island. Strong trade winds blew away most of the topsoil, leaving behind red hardpan dirt."
With nothing left to graze, the Navy confiscated the island and turned it into a penal colony, and then a bombing range. The stream channels were destroyed and more topsoil was exposed to the relentless winds. The result was utter ecological collapse.
The bombing range became less useful to the Navy as the surrounding population increased. Eventually, the Navy lost interest and ceded the island to the state of Hawaii. Senator Daniel Inouye brokered the deal.
The island is now the location of a massive revegetation project:
You won't be taking any hikes on Kaho'olawe, and neither will your children. But maybe someday one of your descendents will.
Kaho'olawe is an excellent example of how the earth is not a zero sum provider. With no concept of stewardship, unregulated profit-taking results in a tragedy of the commons; if your cows don't eat the grass, someone else's will. Kaho'olawe could have supported modest grazing indefinitely, but for now and the foreseeable future, it will support nothing of value to humans, and much time and work will be required just to restore it to what it once was.
-------------- Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
The tragedy of the commons is demonstrated here all right...the lack of individual ownership. If anyone's cows can eat the grass because you don't own it, it's a race to eat it all.
it's interesting to see you combine the idea that there should be something of value there to humans, combined with notions that what was is what it 'should' be....a value system indicating humans are a problem.
-------------- Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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