Posted by: chrismaser | March 9, 2010



Although technically a “conduit” is a hollow tube of some sort, I use the term here to connote any system employed specifically for the transfer of energy from one place to another. Every living thing, from a virus to a bacterium, fungus, plant, insect, fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, mammal, and every cell in our body is a conduit for the collection, transformation, absorption, storage, transfer, and expulsion of energy. In fact, the function of the entire biophysical system is tied up in the collection, transformation, absorption, storage, transfer, and expulsion of energy—one gigantic, energy-balancing act.

For example, in 1883, Krakatoa, a small Indonesian island between Java and Sumatra, was virtually obliterated by explosive eruptions that sent volcanic ash high enough above the Earth to ride the world’s airways for more than a year. This changed the climate by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, which in turn cooled the climate and affected all life. Just as it carried the volcanic ash of Krakatoa, air also carries the reproductive spores of fungi and the pollen of various trees and grasses, as well as dust and microscopic organisms. In fact, if it were not for the circumnavigating zephyrs, the Amazon forest would starve.

The wind-scoured and nearly barren southern Sahara Desert of northern Africa feeds the Amazonian forests of South America with mineral-coated dust from the Bodélé Depression, once part of Lake Chad, the remnant of which today straddles the border between Cameroon and Chad—and is known as the largest source of dust in the world. During the Northern Hemisphere winter, winds routinely blow across this part of northern Africa, where they pick up of 0.7 million tons of dust on an average day, and sweep 40 tons of mineral-coated dust across the Atlantic each year, of which approximately 20 million tons falls on the Amazon and enriches its otherwise nutrient-poor soils.

The Bodélé Depression, which feeds the Amazon year after year, accounts for only 0.2 percent of the entire Saharan Desert, and is only .05 percent the size of the Amazon itself.1


Related Posts:

• The Law Of Cosmic Unification

• Principle 1: Everything is a relationship

• Principle 2: All relationships are inclusive and productive.

• Principle 3: The only true investment is energy from sunlight.

• Principle 4: All systems are defined by their function.

• Principle 6: All relationships are self-reinforcing feedback loops.

• Principle 7: All relationships have one or more tradeoffs.

• Principle 8: Change is a process of eternal becoming.

• Principle 9: All relationships are irreversible.

• Principle 10: All systems are based on composition, structure, and          function.

• Principle 11: All systems have cumulative effects, lag periods, and           thresholds.

• Principle 12: All systems are cyclical, but none are perfect circles.

• Principle 13: Systemic change is based on self-organized criticality.

• Principle 14: Dynamic disequilibrium rules all systems.


The discussion of the Bodélé Depression is based on: I. Koren, Kaufman, Y., Washington, R., Todd, M., Rudich, Y., J Vanderlei, M., and Rosenfeld, D. 2006. The Bodélé depression: a single spot in the Sahara that provides most of the mineral dust to the Amazon forest. Environmental Research Letters, 1 (014005), p. 1-5. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/1/1/014005. Available online from Institute of Physics Electronic Journals.

Text © by Chris Maser 2010. All rights reserved.

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This series of blogs is excerpted from my 2009 book, Social-Environmental Planning: The Design Interface Between Everyforest and Everycity, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 321 pp.

If you want to contact me, you can visit my website. If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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