Monday, 5 September 2011

Ecosystem matters

I first learned about ecosystem in my biology class when I was in Form 4. Not sure whether there was any question on this subject when I sat for my SPM (Malaysian Certificate of Education) a year later. I did not take biology when I did my Year 12 in Australia and never thought of re-visiting the term again.

So, why am I writing about something that is taught in biology classes? Well, ecosystem is about how living and non-living things live together in a defined environment. The action of an element would influence others, positive or negative. The dynamics in the ecosystem will lead towards many possible outcomes. Although rain will help tree to grow, too much rainfall will cause flooding and may kill the trees. If we chop down trees to build houses, the monkeys will turn our neighborhood into theirs.

Life is too complicated. To help people to comprehend life, the complexity is simplified by many into simple, linear relationships. In business, such approach is used, for example, to explain the connection between the transformation of raw material into goods in the form of supply chain analysis. The concept of chain suggests that one event will lead to another, simple.

Such simplicity may, sometimes, lead us to believe in the simplified concept rather than the real life itself. This will lead to problems if the simplified concept is used to solve real life problems. For example, more money will make us happy. However, if the money is obtained through illegal means such as corruption, we may not enjoy our money as we have to pay additional cost due to deterioration of services and other inefficiencies. Although some people may escape paying the total cost of corruption, other may have to pay more. The net effect is that our society will be worse off.

The points is events in life is not necessarily linear. Sometimes it goes into a cycle, sometimes it will move in a totally opposite direction if the elements in the ecosystem are not as what we had assumed. Therefore, understanding the character of key players in any ecosystem would be crucial in anticipating possible outcome of a given event.

Too complicated? Yes, life is not meant to be easily understood.
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