Entire book, with many colour and black/white figures, “Negative Effects of Parasites on Fish Farms Production”can be downloaded here:
Trypanosomosis, cryptobiosis, Ichthyobodosis
Entire book, with many colour and black/white figures, “Negative Effects of Parasites on Fish Farms Production”can be downloaded here:
Trypanosomosis, cryptobiosis, Ichthyobodosis
A new book on the physics of climate change by the distinguished climate physicists Michael Box and Gail Box of the University of New South Wales has just been published by CRC Press: Physics of Radiation and Climate.
For details see here:
According to an emergency edition of the WWF Living Blue Planet Report, there has been a 49% decline in marine vertebrate populations between 1970 and 2012. These estimates are based on tracking 5829 populations of 1234 species. For some fish species, the decline has been almost 75%. Overfishing, habitat destruction and climate change are held to be responsible.
Concerning the importance of marine ecosystems more generally, a concise and up-to-date list of important aspects of ocean diversity and how it has been affected by human activities is given in the UNESCO report:
Some important points from this report:
Causes of losses in marine biodiversity are discussed here, with some references:
According to the International Astronomical Union (7 August 2015), sunspot activity over the last 300 years has remained more or less stable and cannot, therefore, be responsible for global warming since the industrial revolution.
“The Sunspot Number is a crucial tool used to study the solar dynamo, space weather and climate change. It has now been recalibrated and shows a consistent history of solar activity over the past few centuries. The new record has no significant long-term upward trend in solar activity since 1700, as was previously indicated. This suggests that rising global temperatures since the industrial revolution cannot be attributed to increased solar activity.”
“The Maunder Minimum, between 1645 and 1715, when sunspots were scarce and the winters harsh, strongly suggests a link between solar activity and climate change. Until now there was a general consensus that solar activity has been trending upwards over the past 300 years (since the end of the Maunder Minimum), peaking in the late 20th century — called the Modern Grand Maximum by some.”
“This trend has led some to conclude that the Sun has played a significant role in modern climate change.”
“The apparent upward trend of solar activity between the 18th century and the late 20th century has now been identified as a major calibration error in the Group Sunspot Number. Now that this error has been corrected, solar activity appears to have remained relatively stable since the 1700s.”
Full article (Science Daily) here:
A book on the history of climate change politics in Australia, describing the disastrous influence of the right wing media (particularly those controlled by Murdoch) and the big mining corporations has just been published. Author is Maria Taylor (“Global Warming and Climate Change. What Australia knew and buried….then framed a new reality for the public”). http://press.anu.edu.au/titles/global-warming-and-climate-change/ : A free copy can be downloaded at this address.
The book is based on Taylor’s research for a PhD at the National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science of The Australian National University. From the ANU site on her book: “Her multi-disciplinary investigation of the public record and the input of science, politics, economics, journalism and contemporary mass media has revealed for the first time how and why Australia buried a once good understanding of global warming and climate change — to arrive after 25 years at the confusion and stalemate we are still in today. “
An outline and discussion of he book is available here:
“In 1989 Hawke described a “growing consensus amongst scientists” showing there was a strong chance that major climate change was on its way, that this change was linked to human activity, and this could have “major ramifications for human survival” if nothing was done.”
‘The Howard government …….. cautious climate policy positions ……. to justify it through media articles. That modelling was supported financially by the likes of the Australian Coal Association, the oil giant Exxon Mobil and the mining majors BHP and Rio Tinto.”
” ……. by 1997, many political and economic reporters were “dutifully scribing the story established by the business and political elite”.
A point to make is the role of the media in Australia, which is so dominated by the Murdoch press. That played a key role, in a sense that as the 90s rolled on it was so much easier to get out a consistent narrative if you don’t have a really diverse press. From what I saw – and what the documentary evidence showed – the ABC did have a leadership role for a long time in informing the public about climate change, but it really drew back in the late 90s. There was no other story being told.
Free-market neoliberal thinktanks, including the Institute of Public Affairs, promoted climate science denialist views and industry talking points that were picked up by the media.”
Noam Chomsky, der berühmte Wissenschaftler und Politik-Kommentator, in einem Interview mit dem ‘Freitag’ im MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
“Noam Chomsky: Die USA sind ein Schurkenstaat, Europa ist extrem rassistisch”
“Hoffentlich gibt es endlich einen Volksaufstand gegen die vernichtende, zerstörerische Wirtschafts- und Sozialpolitik, die von den Bürokraten und den Banken kommt.”
“Die menschliche Spezies gibt es schon vielleicht seit 100.000 Jahren und sie steht jetzt vor einem einzigartigen Moment in ihrer Geschichte. Diese Spezies ist jetzt an einem Punkt, an dem sich sehr bald entscheiden wird, in den kommenden Generationen, ob das Experiment des sogenannten intelligenten Lebens weitergehen wird oder wir fest entschlossen sind, es zu zerstören. Überwiegend erkennen Wissenschaftler, dass fossile Energieträger im Boden bleiben müssen, damit unsere Enkel eine Zukunft haben. Aber die institutionellen Strukturen unserer Gesellschaft versuchen, jeden Tropfen aus der Erde zu pressen. Die Folgen, die Auswirkungen der vorhergesagten Effekte des Klimawandels für die Menschheit in nicht sehr ferner Zukunft sind katastrophal und wir rasen auf diesen Abgrund zu.”
Vollständiger Artikel hier:
From the Sun Herald ( a Fairfax weekend newspaper) 12.July 2015:
“Tony Abbott has been warned he is putting international investment at risk after ordering the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to finance new wind power projects.”
Both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have repeatedly claimed that wind farms are noisy and ugly. No such comments about a new open cut coal mine in fertile agricultural lands in NSW, just approved by the Federal government.
According to the ABC on 13.7.15, “small scale solar power” projects are also banned.
“Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been accused of unprecedented political interference in the ABC by demanding the broadcaster move panel program Q&A into its news division before he lifts a boycott of the program.
In a letter sent to ABC chairman Jim Spigelman on Friday, Mr Abbott said he would be happy to lift a ban on his frontbenchers appearing on Q&A if the ABC transferred the program from its television department to news and current affairs.”
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Global Change Institute and Professor of Marine Science at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Deputy Director of James Cook University’s Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, and an ARC Laureate Fellow in 2013, is one of the authors of a paper just published in Science vol. 349, 3 July 2015, no. 6243, DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4722: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6243/aac4722. in which the effects of climate change on the oceans are discussed under two scenarios, one if we continue as now, the other if we reduce temperature rise to 2 degrees.
Professor Hoegh-Guldberg has also published an article in Conversation accessible to the wider public, in which he emphasises the need for urgent action if we want to avoid disaster: “……..the ocean system could not be more important: it regulates the global temperature and atmosphere, feeds 3 billion people, and largely determines our weather. The ocean also has lots of “inertia” – which means that getting the ocean to change takes a lot of energy, but once it begins to change, slowing it down becomes more or less impossible…..” . Full article here:
The fourth review of the book edited by me has just been published in Quarterly Review of Biology, University of Chicago Press 90, pp. 211-212, June 2015. Reviewer is Professor Andrew Goudie, Professor of Geography, Oxford University, well known for his work on desert geomorphology, dust storms, weathering, and climatic change in the tropics, and his books on human impacts on the environment. For copyright reasons I include only two excerpts:
“There is more than ample evidence that humans are having an increasing impact on the environment through changes in land use and land cover, climate change, and globalization of organisms. A big question, which this book aims to answer is ‘what will be the ecological responses to such changes’? Will certain tipping points be passed for certain organisms and ecosystems?
The book is composed of 27 chapters and has 30 authors from a range of countries, with a particularly strong contingent from Australia. It covers various taxonomic groups, including plants, nematodes, mammals and birds, and a range of marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. It is very strong with respect to debates about equilibrium and non-equilibrium states at a variety of scales from populations to communities and to ecosystems of varying spatial extent. ”
“………… individual chapters have great merit and the overall message is a very important one. Parts I, II and III are valuable because of the light they throw on equilibrium concepts, while Part V includes useful case studies…….”
Earlier reviews here:
(This article was first published as a Google knol and then transferred to wordpress.com. I re-publish it here as a basis for discussion. © Klaus Rohde).
Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was deeply influenced by a leading geologist, a demographer and an economist, who had the ideas that geological changes in the past can be explained by the same factors that are operative now, that changes have been gradual, that demand grows faster than supply, leading to competition for resources, and that market forces lead to equilibria. Darwin’s theory is at the basis of much of modern ecology, i.e., equilibrium ecology. Its three pillars are competition for resources (struggle for existence), survival of the fittest, and equilibrium in nature. – In parallel, the pillars of free market economy are competition for resources, the principle of comparative advantage, and equilibria. – Here we examine how recent findings on ecology have changed our views on equilibrium in ecological systems, and whether these findings can be applied to economics.
Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection was deeply influenced by a leading geologist of his time, Charles Lyell , by a leading demographer, Thomas Robert Malthus , and by a leading economist, Adam Smith . Lyell proposed the theory of uniformitarianism, according to which geological patterns over time were shaped by the same factors that are effective today, and that changes occurred gradually. Malthus realized that demand grows faster than supply, leading to competition for resources, and Smith proposed that market forces regulate prices establishing an equilibrium, thus avoiding the catastrophe predicted by Malthus. He also proposed a mechanism justifying free trade between countries, i.e., the idea of absolute advantage, soon to be replaced by Ricardo’s principle of comparative advantage . – Darwin’s theory  is at the basis of much of modern ecology, i.e., of what is best called equilibrium ecology . Its three pillars are competition for resources (or struggle for existence), survival of the fittest, and equilibrium in nature. – In parallel, free market economy is largely based on Smith’s and Ricardo’s ideas. Its pillars are competition for resources, the principle of comparative advantage, and equilibrium in economy, although much has happened in the last 200 years and some economists, at least, have incorporated non-equilibrium, ecological and psychological approaches.- Here we examine how recent findings on ecology have changed our views on equilibrium in ecological systems, and whether these findings can be applied to economics.
First, I give definitions of the terms used.
a country has an absolute advantage over another country in producing something, if its production costs for this product are lower.
the study of the ecology of particular species and populations.
a change in the characteristics of a species due to competition with other species, or due to reinforcement of reproductive barriers.
a country has a comparative advantage over another country in producing something, if its “relative production costs” are lower (or: for which the “opportunity cost” of production is lower: see opportunity cost).
process which leads to the survival of the fittest within species (intraspecific competition) or between species (interspecific competition).
dependence on population density (individuals per unit area).
balance in economy and nature.
the changes in the kinds of species and their characteristics over time.
a resource (food, space, etc.) which is potentially in limited supply, i.e., which limits the size of a population even if other resources are abundant.
catastrophe arising from the discrepancy in the increase of demand and supply.
mechanism which drives evolution by the survival of the fittest.
a species’ place in nature, or: a species’ place in multidimensional hyperspace (niche space with many niche dimensions; see: niche dimension).
any of the many dimensions (such as habitat, food, salinity, environmental temperature, etc.etc.) of a niche defining a species’ place in nature.
non-balance in nature.
amount of product which must be given up in order to produce one more unit of another product.
optimal adaptation to environmental conditions.
Reinforcement of reproductive barriers (= Wallace effect):
change in characteristics of a species which prevents hybridization with a closely related (congeneric) species, due to its co-occurrence with such species.
the theory according to which geological patterns over time were shaped by the same factors that are effective today, and that changes occurred gradually.
the potential that more species can exist in a habitat than are present at a particular point in time.
the degree with which individuals or species can move around in and between habitats.
see reinforcement of reproductive barriers.
The benefits of free trade
There can be no doubt that free markets/free trade have been of great benefit to many countries, lifting millions out of impoverishment. The aim of this article is not to put this in doubt, but to warn against raising free market economics to a dogma that has to be followed under any circumstances, disregarding local conditions and potential dangers to developing (and developed) countries.
History of concepts
As pointed out above, much has happened in economics theory in the two centuries since Smith and Ricardo. This article does not attempt to consider all such developments, but restricts itself to looking at some important “classical” assumptions, which are still dominant in the field.
Free markets in economy
Ricardo’s principle of comparative advantage was developed as a justification for free trade, replacing the earlier justification based on absolute advantage by Adam Smith. It means that even if a country has an absolute advantage over another in producing something, it may still be advantageous to concentrate on another product, for which it does not only have an absolute advantage, but a comparative advantage as well, i.e., for which its “relative production costs” are lower (or: for which the “opportunity cost” of production is lower, where opportunity cost is defined as the amount of product which must be given up in order to produce one more unit of the other product). Even from the viewpoint of the country which has an absolute disadvantage in producing any product, concentration on products with the lowest opportunity costs will be of benefit to it. In other words, both countries will benefit by concentrating on products which they can produce comparatively more cheaply: the overall outcome will be that the total product of both countries will increase. Suranovic (2007) lists a number of assumptions on which the principle is based . They are (for the simplest version of the model): 1) labour is homogeneous within but heterogeneous between countries; 2) goods can be transported without cost between countries; 3) labour can be re-allocated without costs between industries within but not between countries; 4) there is no unemployment; 5) there are differences in production technology across industries and countries; 6) labour and goods markets are perfectly competitive in all countries; 7) firms maximize profit and consumers maximize utility.Obviously, most of these assumptions are unrealistic in many cases of the modern world (and probably always were). However, they are accommodated in more complex models developed to “rescue” the principle. Another possible objection is that the principle, which seems to make perfect sense if the simple case of two countries is considered, may not apply to the far more complex case of many countries: does complexity perhaps lead to quite different dynamics? In ecology, the degree of complexity of an ecosystem may affect its stability: an important problem is whether complexity makes an ecosystem more or less stable. The question therefore arises: how common are conditions which legitimize application of Ricardo’s principle? Important here is evidence provided by Chang that free trade, in history, has always been used by more advanced countries to keep less advanced ones down, preventing them from developing their own industries . – One particularly pernicious example of the misuse of free trade is the opium wars between Britain and China 1839 to 1842 and 1856 to 1860, not long after Ricardo’s principle was developed. They led to corruption in India (where opium was grown) and in China (which was forced to import it), all in the name of free trade: Britain needed the opium trade to pay for its valuable imports from China. This suggests the possibility that the principle may well work for countries which are not too dissimilar (in size, technology, education, tradition, etc.), but that it may be inapplicable to countries that differ vastly in their competitive abilities, opening the way to the innate viciousness of man that tempts the stronger “partner” to misuse its power (see for instance the collapse of the latest (last?) Doha round of free trade negotiations). – More generally, the principle (or model, like most models) abstracts from the psychological deficiencies of the players in the field, making false assumptions and therefore leading to wrong predictions.Equilibrium or not in ecology?
What can ecology teach us in this regard?
At the basis of modern evolutionary theory and ecology is Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Darwin was influenced by the ideas of Thomas Malthus and Adam Smith. According to Malthus, demand grows faster than supply, because populations increase exponentially and food supply arithmetically, leading to a “struggle for existence” and “survival of the fittest”. According to Adam Smith, free markets are regulatory mechanisms acting on the basis of supply and demand, leading to self-adjustment of prices (the “invisible hand”), i.e. to an equilibrium. The disaster predicted by Malthus (the “Malthusian catastrophe”) is avoided by competition (selection). In other words: equilibrium assumptions are an essential ingredient of the theory of natural selection. Darwin wrote in his Origin of Species that “battle within battle” must be continually recurring with varying degrees of success, but in the long-run forces are nicely balanced. One of the great modern ecologists, Hutchinson (1948 ), took it for granted that stability (owing to “self-correcting mechanisms”) is characteristic of most ecological systems and permits their persistence. According to the great evolutionary biologist Dobshansky (1957 ), natural selection and with it the evolutionary process result from competition, and “therefore are governed by density-dependent factors”. To this day, the belief of the overriding importance of competition between individuals and species in ecological systems, resulting in equilibrium conditions, is widespread. However, is this belief really justified? Important ecologists have pointed out repeatedly that equilibrium conditions in nature are not as common as usually assumed. Thus, Andrewartha and Birch (1954 ) did not recognize the predominant role of competition and the general existence of equilibria. More generally, they objected to the approach explaining differences between species by competition for limiting resources resulting in character displacement, pointing out that one should expect to find similar species in similar habitats. One should rather ask: why can species with different ecological requirements live together? – Hengeveld and Walter (1999) distinguished two mutually exclusive paradigms in ecology, the demographic and autecological one . In the former, ecological systems are supposed to be driven by optimization processes (i.e., by processes that lead to a rather fast adaptation to a supposedly more or less constant environment, by competition of individuals and species) leading to equilibrium. In the latter, emphasis is on idiosyncratic adaptations and reproduction of populations and species. According to Hengeveld and Walter, the former paradigm is unrealistic, because environmental conditions change all the time, not permitting short-term optimization. – Rohde (2005) http://www.cambridge.org/9780521674553 ), based on a survey of much evidence from various sources from the plant and animal kingdoms, concluded that non-equilibrium is more common than equilibrium in nature. His distinction of non-equilibrium and equilibrium ecology corresponds to a large degree with the two paradigms of Hengeveld and Walter, although he does not consider them to be mutually exclusive. Rather, equilibrium is more likely in communities consisting of vagile and/or large individuals and/or large populations. Literature indicates that equilibrium systems, in which interspecific competition is common, are the exception rather than the rule. – Important here is the demonstration that niche space is largely empty, i.e., many potential niches have never been filled. In other words, there is an abundance of vacant niches. For example, evidence clearly shows that diversity of animals has continually increased over hundreds of millions of years to the present, and that similar habitats often contain vastly different numbers of species.
What can ecology teach us about economics?
As we have seen, the fundamental assumptions of classical economics and equilibrium ecology are surprisingly similar. The pillars of the former are competition for resources, the principle of comparative advantage, and equilibrium; the pillars of the latter are competition for resources (struggle for existence), survival of the fittest, and equilibrium. Concerning ecology, we have seen that resources are seldom exhausted, that competition occurs but is not of the overriding importance often assumed, and that equilibrium conditions are not as common as non-equilibrium ones. This should give us some reasons to at least have a closer look at the assumptions of free market economics. There can be little doubt that there often is competition for resources, but it seems that shortages frequently are of a temporary nature. On the supply side: recent evaluations suggest that wave energy alone would be sufficient to provide all of Australia’s energy; solar energy in Saharan Africa, among others, is only being talked about. On the demand side: demand is artificially and almost(?) hysterically driven up by advertising that plays on greed and “doing better than your neighbour”; and is the political hysteria leading to an ever increasing expenditure on defense perhaps the result of aggressive instincts of man cleverly exploited by nations’ military-PR industrial complexes? – Equilibrium in economy appears to be a fairly transient condition, as shown at this very moment by the global financial crisis.
So, data suggest that some of the basic assumptions both of equilibrium ecology and free market economics are flawed. However, it must be emphasized that in ecology competition and equilibrium are common under certain conditions, and that in economy free trade may well be of benefit when certain conditions are met. In ecology, an autecological approach, which involves a careful and often long-term study of populations and species, may often be of greater use than a demographic one, and in economy, a careful analysis of local conditions permitting a decision on the benefits of free trade may often be useful, in particular when a powerful nation deals with a small developing one.
Since this knol was published, Paul Krugman was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics for work which clearly implies that Ricardo’s principle does not realistically describe what is actually happening.
Lyell, Charles (1830). Principles of Geology. John Murray, London.
Malthus, Thomas R. (1798). An Essay on the Principle of Population. J.Johnson, London.
Smith, Adam (1776). An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations. Thomas Nelson, Edinburgh.
Ricardo, David (1817). On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. John Murray, London.
Darwin, Charles (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. John Murray, London.
Rohde, K. (2005). Nonequilibrium Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Suranovic, S.M. (2007). International Trade Theory and Policy. The Theory of Comparative Advantage – Overview. http://internationalecon.com/Trade/Tch40/T40-0.php
Chang, Ha-Joon (2002). Kicking away the Ladder: Policies and Institutions for Economic Development in Historical Perspective. Anthem Press, London.
Hutchinson, G.E. (1948). Circular causal systems in ecology. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 50, 221-246.
Dobshansky, T. (1957). Discussion, from Andrewartha, H.G.: the use of conceptual models in population ecology. Cold Spring Harbour Symposia on Quantitative Biology, p.235.
Andrewartha, H.G. and Birch, L.C. (1954). The distribution and abundance of animals. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Hengeveld, R. and Walter, G.H. (1999). The two coexisting ecological paradigms. Acta Biotheoretica 47, 141-170.
I wish to thank Peter Rohde for some helpful comments.