Compared to forest or aquatic ecosystems, grassland is unstable. It requires rather precise geological and climatic conditions, and if these conditions are not maintained--if too much rain falls, or too little--it quickly turns into forest or desert, both of which are dominated by woody plants. This instability is reflected in the spectacular but brief careers of various grassland faunas. Humanity, with its dazzling symbioses, preadaptations, and neoteny, is the most spectacular of these--and may well be the briefest.
The dominant culture eats entire biomes. No, that is too generous, because eating implies a natural biological relationship. This culture doesn't just consume ecosystems, it obliterates them, it murders them, one after another. This culture is an ecological serial killer, and it's long past time for us to recognize the pattern.
Perhaps the central question about [Eliot] Porter's work is about the relationship between science, aesthetics, and environmental politics. His brother, the painter and critic Fairfield Porter, wrote in a 1960 review of [Porter's] colour photographs: 'There is no subject and background, every corner is alive,' and this suggests what an ecological aesthetic might look like.
Diversity is a survival factor for the community itself. A community of a hundred million species can survive anything short of total global catastrophe. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature drop of twenty degrees which would be a lot more devastating than it sounds. Within that hundred million will be thousands that could survive a global temperature rise of twenty degrees. But a community of a hundred species or a thousand species has almost no survival value at all.
Many collectors died in process of searching for new species, and despite persistent reports that the men died from drowning, gunshot and knife wounds, snakebite, trampling by cattle, or blows in the head with blunt instruments, it is generally accepted that in each case the primary cause of death was orchid fever.