(302) 703-7086

Cathy (Haoqui) Li

Tower Hill High School

Web of Wonders

The Intricate Interconnectedness of Ecosystems and Humans 

I. Nature’s symphony: why do we care?  

Imagine this – you wake up in the morning to the sound of birds chirping outside, and warm rays of sunshine filter through the trees and sprinkle across your room. The wind blows through the foster and the rustling swish travels through the window with the scent of cherry blossom. As the sunshine gently wakes you up, the smell of coffee beans rises and arrives at your door. You put on your cloth, made out of the soft cotton grown overseas and chemical dyes that tinted stacks of the garment but also contaminated our rivers. 

As the scene shifts to breakfast, you realize the vegetables and nuts in your salad are produced by local farms and, even as little as a sip of orange juice, is freshly squeezed from farmers’ markets just now. Then, you step outside of your house, onto the pavement, into the modern world where our lives depend on and engulf natural resources: even our phones are built upon hundreds of pieces of minerals and metals. As vehicles speed through the highways, every honk reminds you of the carbon dioxide emitted every second and the deforestation has to be done to construct these turnpikes. 

The web of life is profound, and yet, intricately interconnected with us, with each individual in this biosphere. There has been an equilibrium established between our minds, our bodies, and our ecosystem by how we interact with one another and the amount of impact it brought to our community. The imagery I illustrated above is part of our daily lives and it is one of many instances that exemplify how nature is weaved into our modern lives in 2023; that being said, nature is inseparable from us and we surely cannot survive without the nurturing from mother Earth. 

Ever since middle school, our schools have emphasized the importance of nature and its role in the world – nonetheless, not many students truly entangle this idea nor do they apply it to their own lives, rather, the knowledge remains in those heavy biology-textbooks that are covered with dust. Though, it is fortunate to say that our solid foundation prepared our generation to explore what had been previously established by ecologists: a fascinating example that guided me into the study of nature is the history of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. 

II. Delicate equilibrium: nature’s domino effect from Yellowstone  

In the early 1900s Western of our nation aimed to eliminate predators and wolves in was good, to restore the local ecological balance, maintain biodiversity, and prevent predatory domination, the executive ignored the importance of wolves as keystone species in the park. 

In fact, this led to a greater mistake – songbirds left, elk and coyotes became overpopulated and beavers disappeared. With no natural predator in the region, the trophic levels were put out of balance, known as trophic cascade: with the absence of wolves, the prey faced no threats, allowing them to reproduce without competition. Consequently, the land was overgrazed by the elks, leaving no food for songbirds as the number of willows and trees drastically declined. 

To restore the natural habitat, wolves were reintroduced and the ecosystem slowly recovered: when the ecological balance was put back in place, the number of species returned to a regular scale; the willows, once again, thrived and the erosion caused by the lack of plants. With the reintroduction of the wolf population, the land was revived and the landscape transformed. From this simple example, we can see the impact of every species in the ecosystem, highlighting if one

species is absent, it is not only a matter of a population, or a region but a series of chain reactions. It is evident that sometimes people ignore the fact of the vitality of organisms and now is the time to recollect the knowledge and raise our awareness outside of our comfort zone. 

III. Our intertwined destiny: reflect and review our journey  

Many times, I found myself taking nature’s reciprocity for granted, assuming that I wouldn’t make an impact on Earth nor could I contribute – what can the Earth give me back reciprocally? Not until we felt the liveliness of this planet, we realized the detrimental destruction that we had exploited on our land; not until the cruel reality hit us with catastrophic natural disasters, we realized the advantage we had taken from nature without giving back. 

With the Australian and California wildfires that stirred up global sensation, there has been more recognition of how we should approach the solution to climate change. The way we interact with the environment, such as our carbon footprint and legal management, can have a significant impact on our current environment. By taking a more holistic outlook on studies of current events and climate change, we can work towards a safer and more resilient future by raising public awareness and fostering a more in-depth consciousness of our symbiotic relationship with our environment. 

VI. Imminent action now: preserve our biosphere  

“There is a deep interconnectedness of all life on earth, from the tiniest organisms to the largest ecosystems, and absolutely between each person.” ― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason 

This is not an easy task, we know, but it is a must. Our planet which we highly depend on is facing an unprecedented, never-seen destruction and we are the generation that can make a change. The impact of global warming on our planet is no longer a distant threat, but a very real and urgent problem. 

Climate change is real. It is not a propaganda or profit-seeking advertisement. It lies in front of us bluntly and we are defenseless until we start to take actions, to defend our own home. 

It is those mornings that I wake up upon daylights; it is the sense of calmness from the sound of brooks as the water flows by; it is the essence of our survival – all and all fueled my motivation to protect the Earth. We breathe in and out of the air freely and we taste the cuisine from countries without thinking of their relation in terms of climate change. 

With our collective future put at stake, we can wait no more; we cannot afford more time to waste as the clock ticks by. It is up to us to empower ourselves and take responsibility for the impact we have on the environment; the fate of our planet is in our hands and we can and shall decide what to do.