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There’s really no planet B: a reflection about the balance of the ecosystem

By Filippo Tommasini

There are few people who do not get excited in the middle of nature, there are many who are shocked when they see nature dying and unfortunately there are still few who decide to do something real to help the environment.

Pollution is a problem that needs to be addressed globally, and the governments of all states are the ones that primarily need to intervene in order to change this situation.

I think, however, that everyone of us can still help the planet.

I think of simple reflections that each of us should have facing the destruction of nature by ourselves. We must “convert” those who have not yet realized the problem, we must raise awareness, we must inform and share the problem in the best way.

In addition to having a green approach to life, I personally try to bring respect towards nature even in small daily gestures, I practice one of what I have called “physical actions”, that is meeting with friends to collect the waste thrown in the woods of our Apennines.

I have a deep bond with nature, since childhood I’ve always found something magical in it, something that involves me and that causes me feelings, positive emotions, it is something that purifies me and that for a moment makes me fall into another dimension and that allows me to leave out all the tensions and problems of life.

When we talk about human damage to the environment we “trivially” think about the plastic island in the middle of the ocean, about open-air landfills or arson.

There are also often deeper damage, linked to less striking, almost invisible things, which, however, cause the breakdown of the balance of the ecosystem and that trigger harmful and irreversible effects.

I recently decided to dig deeper on the various issues related to environmental sustainability, pollution and global warming. So I focused on the relationship between man and nature and on the consequences of the damage caused by men.

I was looking for a case to tell that could make Mother Nature’s strength clear: so beautiful, so strong and so capable of rebelling if it is not respected.

I wanted to find an example of the “Man/Nature dimension“, something that could demonstrate how small and powerless we actually appear in front of the force of nature.

The spruce-fir forests epidemics in different parts of Europe, especially in Italy, caught my attention. I investigated the death of these trees and discovered yet another damage indirectly caused to nature by us humans.

What I discovered is that due to the change in the ecosystem because of global warming, a small insect has become able to destroy an entire forest.

The increased pollution, the consequent global warming and the greater frequency of climate changes have caused significant damage to the ecosystem.

One of these is precisely the disproportionate reproduction of the insect called European spruce bark beetle, capable of attacking spruce weakened by frequent climate changes.

The small insect is not actually the direct culprit of the phenomenon, it is the consequence of damage caused by human activities.

Those grey spots in the spruce-fir forests can also be seen from afar.

They are made up of hundreds of dead spruces, dramatically visible among other trees, still green and healthy, which cover the slopes of the Apennines and the Alps.

Many hikers who pass through these places believe that the damage is caused by a fire, but in reality those skeletal fir trees are the victim of a small insect that is not very visible.

In a natural ecosystem, characterized by a certain structural and physiological complexity, the presence of this insect can be considered a factor of balance and biodiversity. This insect of the beetles family has never moved away from the spruce-fir forests, being a permanent host for several millennia, and its presence is permanent and will remain also in the future as long as the spruce will be part of both our mountain forests and the ones of Northern Europe.

When colonizing the trees, the male insects penetrate the bark by digging tunnels that prevent the lymph from rising towards the branches of the plant, causing their death. The progress of these galleries can follow very elaborate designs, which are brought to light when the dried bark detaches itself from the trunk.

The male of the spruce bark beetle welcomes the females inside a small cavity dug in the fir trunk after having recalled them with a particular pheromone (the insects’s reproductive smell). The characteristics of the galleries are two or three main branches according to the number of females inserted in the male’s wedding chamber.

Newspapers, sites, interviews: everything today speaks of the environment and eco-sustainability. We are forgetting about ourselves and what surrounds us, neglecting even the smallest attention to nature.

I love nature in all its forms, especially the mountains and the way they make me feel. Nature in the mountains pulls you by the sleeve, asks you to look at it, to study it, to be present.

And we must be present, because there’s really no planet B.

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