Just between 1990 and 2016, our planet lost more than 502,000 square miles, or 1.3 million square kilometers of forests. When people think of a forest that has been cut down, only the plants and the trees come to mind. They forget that a forest homes countless animals, from small to big ones. These animals rely on forests for their food, shade, and to sleep. If all the trees, or plants are cut down from the face of Earth, humans will no longer be able to live.
So, now we know what to do. The objective is to prevent people from burning and/or cutting down forests and plantations. But what is another way? What else can we do to protect our forests and greens? Well, that’s where the green world hypothesis comes in.
The name of the hypothesis is daunting, we’ll give you that much but it is a very simple concept to understand. First, let’s agree that our planet needs more greenery. We need to filter the air and get rid of toxics in the air and our waters. Plus, our life source, oxygen, is produced by the same trees that we cut down.
The green world hypothesis wants just that. Its aim is to maximize greenery in the environment, so that our Earth can heal quickly. But apart from humans, which living things consume plants and other types of greenery? The answer is plant-loving animals, or herbivores, in short. The green world hypothesis emphasizes predatory animals and asks us to help in keeping them alive. Logically, these predators consume herbivores. So when herbivores are eaten by predators, our planet will have more greenery. This will lead to several benefits for the environment and also for us.
The green world hypothesis is closely connected to sustainability. To understand the hypothesis better, we will need to talk a little about biodiversity as well.
Professor Robert Paine in Makah Bay, Washington, 1963 came up with some shocking observations. He saw several types of species such as orange sea stars, limpets, mussels, and algae. He further observed that the sea stars dominated the food chain there. These sea stars consumed mussels in their diet. Biodiversity in the place was reduced until the place was taken over by mussels, the prey of sea stars.
This proves one point. Professor Robert Paine knew what he was doing, and was also aware of what’s happening on the ground.
Examples of Green World Hypothesis
Some people may argue against this theory. But, without sufficient evidence and real-time observations, nothing can stand tall in the ground. It is true that proving such a hypothesis can be cumbersome because our world is incredibly huge, and there are several unintended purposes and circumstances that can ruin the whole study. Not to mention that it can also cause a huge impact on the animals. This change might harm the life cycle and it might not be reversible either.
Since 2003, the number of predators on our planet have increased. Just recently, in 2016, different predators were found on a new island. Surprisingly, this reveals that the predators are increasing on our planet. This means that we will now have more trees in our world.
The Yellowstone National Park
One can compare the green world hypothesis to habitat management as well. Back in 1995, within Yellowstone National Park, grey wolves were introduced. This was done to reduce the quantity of elks in the park. According to the scientists, it was the right step to take and rightly so as well.
The elk grazed a huge majority of the vegetation and the greenery that was growing is now nowhere on Earth. But thankfully, due to the induction of grey wolves, the elks had to shift their grazing habits. And now, aspen is recovering in Yellowstone National Park.
This is just one tiny example of how beneficial habitat management can be. Human intervention is now necessary to control the damages that the previous generations have done to this planet. Predators are essential in creating harmony and balance in the world. Prey is also necessary, or how else will predators feed and survive? People who think plants and trees are defenseless are plain wrong. It is true that plants and trees can defend themselves from potential attackers, that is, herbivores. Through chemical defenses and thorns, and other ways plants can safeguard themselves from them.
In Venezuela, a group of researchers came up with an interesting conclusion. The CaroniValley covered 4,300 square kilometers. It was flooded back in 1986. Out of 14 sites, 9 were predator-free. By 1997, small sapling densities on the island were 37%, while in 2002 they came to 25%. Here, most vertebrates had left, and they left behind different kinds of herbivores such as monkeys and leaf-cutter ants.
There is no denying that the green world hypothesis is correct. However, more work needs to be done in this field to convince more people that it is true. Some might argue that our planet needs to have less predators because they are violent and they kill herbivores, which are innocent animals who just feed on grass and plants. Well, that is how nature creates balance.
Unfortunately, predators that are highly important for the planet are not safe from humans either, just like herbivores are not safe to predators. These animals, such as tigers, bears, wolves and hyenas are in danger as well. Due to illegal poaching and trophy kills, the number of these predators is slowly declining. The governments are doing whatever they can to impose fines and taxes and even criminal charges on those people who kill and/or harm predators, but some still get away.
In third-world countries where laws and regulations are not that strict, it is common for people to kill and poach predators. This is often done to extract essentials from these predators such as a tiger’s skin is used to make carpets, clothes, and other things.
All in all, the green world hypothesis seems accurate. If we want our planet to heal completely, we will need to intervene. Until humans get their hands dirty and try to make the world better by trying to create balance in the ecosystem, we will keep suffering. But yes, the greener the planet, the better for us. We will be able to breathe better and live better at the end of the day and that is the purpose of life isn’t it?