Abie L. Benítez
Demands for food, urbanization and industrialization have changed the landscape of our planet. The increased population of the world and the need for livable space has put a lot of stress on biodiversity. My students are going to be looking at such activities as agents of change in the habitats that existent in our urban environment. One ecological concept that I would like to share with my students is that of "fitness" not in the sense of health or aerobic capacity but the ability that certain representative of a species have to cope with changes in the environment.
Human activity can in fact impact land use on a small scale or create such bigger problems as habitat fragmentation, pollution and /or climate change. These changes can introduce a chain of changes in coping strategies therefore altering patterns in the environment and making it more difficult to explain phenomena in nature. Yet, scientific activity has lead to feasible explanations of possible results to human activity. Although scientists have been able to track changes and successfully predict certain reactions many questions remain unanswered, which make environmental problems very serious at times. I want my students to view their activities as choices they make that may adversely impact the environment. Thus, they must learn to discern how daily activities or bigger decisions on resources management impact our lives today and future generations. As consumers of services they should be able to seek information in regards to pesticides, herbicides or any other products they may consume that is detrimental to them or to the environment.
The truth is that as any other organism in our biota we the humans are also competing for resources. Although competition for resources is part of the game of diversity, it is important to point out that we have an advantage over other organisms. Or do we? Many human activities are not necessary thought through and choices are taken or decisions are made for the sake of progress without considering all possible consequences. It behooves any human being to know how human activity is changing biodiversity and how those changes are going to impact the quality of life of not just other organisms but our own lives.
Urbanization is a need that humans have in terms of providing housing for an increasing world population. Yet, planning must take into account issues such as fragmentation or disruption of habitats. We also have to take into consideration how our garbage and other waste may disrupt the habitat of others. Perhaps considerations must be taken for long-term impact as opposed to only short-term consequences. All of this requires consumers who have respect for scientific findings and who can understand the vocabulary and the concepts entail in ecological research. We do not necessarily have to understand methodology but we must be informed consumers of its findings and recommendations.