Bad hair day


Every day is Earth Day – how very cliché but it’s easy to forget in our increasingly urbanized existence. I recently graded undergraduate papers asking them “Will we ever know how many species there are on Earth?” The overwhelming answer was NO, but for mixed reasons. We are also losing species at a rate estimated to be similar to the previous five known extinctions, including the one that killed off the dinosaurs. Climate change, habitat loss, resource over-exploitation all threaten to shift our multitude of ecosystems that provide us shelter, food, water and air. The upshot is that no matter where you are, it doesn’t take much space to get back in contact our surroundings. We are always discovering new organisms sometimes in the smallest spaces. This little moss reminds me of it. I found it on a rock, growing only a couple of centimeters tall. There are probably about a dozen different visible organisms, from the Rock polypody on the right to the lichen and other moss species. Never mind that numerous bacteria and such that the naked eye can’t see. Our urbanized society will need some rethinking if we want to stem even part of the damage – but it can be done, a couple square feet at a time. So, don’t lose touch, channel your inner kid and bend down to inspect that rock! Stay curious


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