This Term's Writer: Alexander Janusz
"So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him... I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields." Exodus 10:3-5
Hello! I’m very excited to be joining you as this weeks resident writer! I’m Alexander Janusz, a recent mechanical engineering graduate from University of Alberta and sustainability nerd. My interests include sustainable building tech, solar architecture, sustainable transportation, sustainable urban design, sustainable energy, aquaculture and various other areas of agriculture. I like learning and collaborating, especially when I can get my hands dirty.
For this weeks focus though, I found inspiration somewhere quite apart from all these things…
This story starts back the summer after I graduated high school. On recommendation, I read a fantastic book called “Wolf Totem”. It’s a semi-autobiographical chronicle of a young agriculture student from Beijing who’s sent by the government to help increase the productivity of the Mongolian grasslands in the late 1960’s (around the time of Maoist “Cultural revolution”). He learns of their life in harmony with the cycles of the grasslands, and of their reverence for wolves. They view the wolf as a protector; their guardian against overpopulation of wild grazing species that could destroy the grasslands.
When the Chinese government decides to intervene directly in the Mongolians agricultural practices, they immediately drive out all the wolves with no attempt to understand what part they played in the ecosystem. The intensive grazing and farming that ensues leads to the desertification of the area and dust storms in Northern China that persist today.
I did some further research into “Wolf Totem”. Originally published in Chinese, it is now the second most widely read book in China after Mao’s “Little Red Book”. Some details about portrayal of Mongolian culture have been called into question, however it seems to be solid with regards to wolf hunting and desertification. The Chinese government now has more restrictive grazing controls and has outlawed wolf hunting.
Jump to a few weeks ago when I was camping. Everything was great… except the small bitting insects. They were around us in clouds, no amount of “OFF deep-woods” seemed to be enough.
This got me thinking back to Wolf Totem; I’m not a fan of mosquitos, but I realized I understood little of their broader ecological niche. Would the world really be any worse off without some of the more annoying bugs like mosquitos and their ilk? It occurred then that I knew more about pandas than I do about bugs, which seemed a little amiss.
This is what I want to explore this week: would it be such a disaster if we eliminated mosquitos and their ilk, and how are bugs doing?
Thanks for reading :)