7 de agosto de 2011

La globalización es también un fenómeno biológico

Charles Mann, autor del libro "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created" y que será publicado la próxima semana, presenta un interesante artículo en el Wall Street Journal donde habla, entre otras cosas, de los efectos biológicos de la globalización.

En el texto, Mann analiza, por ejemplo, el impacto que tuvieron los gusanos que llegaron al Nuevo Mundo cuando se intercambió tierra británica por tabaco americano, así como las consecuencias sociales de la llegada de la papa al Viejo Continente.

Aquí un extracto:

We usually describe globalization in purely economic terms, but it is also a biological phenomenon. Researchers increasingly think that the most important cargo on these early transoceanic voyages was not silk and silver but an unruly menagerie of plants and animals, many of them accidental stowaways. In the sweep of history, it is this biological side of globalization that may well have the greater impact on the fate of the world's people and nations...

... Species have always moved around, taking advantage of happenstance or favorable circumstances. But the Columbian Exchange, like a biological Internet, has put every part of the natural world in contact with every other, refashioning it, for better or worse, at a staggering rate.

The consequences are as hard to predict as those of globalization itself. Even as plantations of Brazilian rubber take over tropical forests in Southeast Asia, plantations of soybeans, a Chinese legume, are replacing almost 80,000 square miles of the southern Amazon, an area almost the size of Britain. In dry northeastern Brazil, Australian eucalyptus covers more than 15,000 square miles. Returning the favor, entrepreneurs in Australia are now attempting to establish plantations of açaí, a Brazilian palm tree whose fruit has been endorsed by celebrities as being super-healthful.

All of these developments will yield positive economic results—soy exports, for instance, are making Brazil into an agricultural powerhouse, lifting the fortunes of countless poor farmers in remote places. But the downside of the ongoing Columbian Exchange is equally stark. Forests in the U.S. are being devastated by a host of foreign pests, including sudden oak death, a cousin of potato blight that is probably from southern China; the emerald ash borer, an insect from northern China that probably arrived in ship pallets; and white pine blister rust, a native of Siberia first seen in the Pacific Northwest in 1920...

Aquí encuentras el editorial.