A Trophic Cascade

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” ~ John Muir

Trophic cascades are powerful indirect interactions that can control entire ecosystems. This 270-second video beautifully describes and illuminates the favorable affect of a recent trophic cascade. I’m sharing the video because, in my mind, it parallels our responsibilities and human role in a chain or cycle.

In July I added this post which highlighted how we, individually and collectively, can create ripple effects with our intentional actions. While the above video addresses fascinating wilderness recovery efforts, from a human perspective I was drawn to the aspects of and potential in:

  • giving life to others
  • changing behaviors
  • regenerating significance
  • how, even in small numbers, we can effect change

3113259723_ccaa717ed1_mJust as wolves initiated this trophic cascade, there exist opportunities to teach ourselves about our positive and vital role in human interactions. This, I believe, we call humanitarianism.

If you are interested in or inclined to introduce a ‘humanitarian cascade’ you can consider these three practices:

  1. Acknowledge and reward constructive behavior. The key to behavioral change is understanding how motivation works in different environments. Observe how people are using their surroundings and resources to benefit others and to promote growth. Help them to see and appreciate the longer-term affects of their contributions.
  2. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them, lest they become overwhelmed by their environments. You need not take the cause on by yourself, but join others in signing petitions, speaking up in a public forum, writing letters, and otherwise making a need heard.
  3. Be kind. Always. Scientific evidence has proven that kindness changes the brain, impacts the heart and immune system, and may even be an antidote to depression. We’re genetically wired to be kind. When we’re kind our bodies are healthiest. Love and kindness can make a damaged heart regenerate faster and when coupled with compassion, can alter the neural structures of our brains.

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49 thoughts on “A Trophic Cascade

  1. This is a wonderful example of a cascade effect in the natural world. It immediately reminded me of a video I had seen about a year ago – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAYpLVyeFU – Granted, it is a commercial and fabricated, but it goes to show the power of kindness in the human spirit, and how it comes back to greet you in mysterious ways when we choose to act with kindness. Thank you for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day!

    • A karmic cycle. I had previously viewed this youtube piece,Dave, and I concur that it evidences kindness – even if fabricated. πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing the link as I suspect others may watch and appreciate the sentiment and action. Wishing you an abundance of wellness in the coming new year!

  2. Three practices we should all strive to practice! My goal is to move forward from being kind far more often than not to being kind, as you say, always. Another beautiful and thoughtful post Eric! Best, Karen

    • Interrelationships, be they human, in/with nature or in this blogging community, indeed evidence how closely we are all connected. Appreciate your poignant observation, Tiny.

      I have read and reread #3. I like how it is sinking in with me and perhaps others!

  3. Gosh Eric – my thoughts are going all over the place after reading this insightful post- like thinking of the butterfly effect – and thinking of this book I read last year (called The Brain that Changes Itself) and then my Aunt Carol used to always say (too many times) that it is “Nice to be nice”= and well just cool to read this and my fav part
    “how, even in small numbers, we can effect change”
    – have a nice day…

  4. Pingback: A Trophic Cascade | Hoxton Spanish Tutor Info

  5. Ahhh as always you write what only Saints can achieve. I’ve decided that #3 worked well for us on Christmas day. We tipped the maid, the server and our waiter a 100 pesos each. The chamber maid cried. Didn’t change the world, but we felt good. Hope your day was awesome too.

    • Then we are saints!! How thoughtful your gifting people who have less yet sometimes, appreciate our kindness exponentially The simple act of her crying, to me, speaks volumes. And the fact that your actions made you and John feel good — that’s a win-win! My day was quietly awesome; thanks for the sentiment.

  6. This is a fantastic metaphor. Every little action, word, and attitude has a lasting impact on the world around us. We, in essence, create our environment. We always need the reminder to be kind and intentional with our lives. Thank you, Eric!

  7. Nicely said, Kaela, we do create our environment. We’re just not always aware of the impact of our actions and kindness. Thanks for using the word “intentional,” it’s foundational to how we view and make conscious choices to benefit ourselves and others. Glad you appreciated the post.

  8. I love the video you chose to illustrate a trophic cascade–a great term, and one I’ve never heard! The more we believe in the interconnectedness of all life I do think the deeper our compassion and kindness. I really love the scientific evidence you shared about the importance of kindness. I would love to see a “kindness movement” where people generally accepted that we don’t need total agreement and can have differences, but we can still be kind! This is really wonderful, Eric.

    • I am pleased to read your comments, Debra. Your reference to the interconnectedness of all life yielding deeper compassion and kindness has depth and truth to it. Interesting that you proffer the idea of a “kindness movement.” I have a friend in LA who for several years now has been slowing building (with success) a Happiness movement. I might have to check with him for thoughts on how one goes about launching such an initiative. Without doubt and despite our individual and collective differences, we *can* still be kind! Thanks much for adding your warm and thoughtful perspectives. Wishing you all good health and abundant joy in the coming new year.

    • You are welcome. It is always good to see you visit via blog comments, Aquileana! Thanks for creating time to read the post and share your kind thoughts. Wishing you the very best and good health in the coming new year. πŸ™‚

  9. Kindness, indeed, causes such beneficial changes in our (literal) hearts & minds. It seems so unusual though to respond with kindness instead of anger, revenge, etc, that it becomes a radical, revolutionary act! I work on making kindness our culture’s go-to response.

    • With much of said (sad) response reflecting either the presence or the absence of the ego mind. Good to learn of your kindness focus. Many cultures will benefit and grow out of your intentions/actions. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughtful comment.

  10. The HOLISTIC Wayfarer appreciates this thoughtful post. =) Of course our feelings, intentions, words affect us physically. Our spirit feeds thoughts which feed feelings which feed health. The liver literally stores grief and resentment.

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