Solving Biodiversity Crisis : Highlighting Math & Computer Programming at Kindergarten Schools

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August 25, 2019 by Species Ecology

Solving Biodiversity Crisis : Highlighting Math & Computer Programming at Kindergarten Schools

Mohammed Ashraf

The biological diversity of our planet are in deep crisis. The rate of extinction is overwhelming among all taxa purely due to human perturbation and argument is marshaled that earth has already undergoing 6th Mass Extinction Event. The last extinction event was of course 65 million years ago when dinosaurs gone extinct due to cosmic cataclysm and long before mammalian evolution. In spite of the fact that the probability of cosmic catastrophe for example super-size meteor from earth’s nearest asteroid belt ends up hitting our planet is relatively low but it does occur roughly of two million years interval. Therefore it is safe to say, extinction event will occur and it will eliminate human species and will give rise to new species over millions of years evolutionary time. The preponderance of humans’ interference on earth’s bio-geo-chemical cycles, ecosystems and biological diversity make humans more vulnerable to extinction and surely out pace any cosmic catastrophes that ever took place in millions of years of earth’s evolutionary timeline. The implication of anthropogenic negative impacts give rise to biodiversity and ecosystem conservation across tropical and semi tropical belts where species richness and diversity are highest. The science that govern the ecosystem conservation and management is deeply rooted into few hundred years of solid principles of ecology per se but both conservation biology and ecology remain crisis disciplines. For example, charismatic large vertebrates that are often served as flagship umbrella species across the tropics are seriously endangered due to human centric negative actions in spite of large scale conservation projects to revive their dwindling population size over the last half century. The reason for this mismatch between theoretical ecology and its practical implementations to help conserve species – the fundamental ecological unit of any ecosystem – partly relates to lack of mathematical underpinnings. Undoubtedly modern and quality wildlife ecologists recognize the importance of developing cutting edge mathematical algorithm that can solve many of the ecosystem and species diversity problems, it is nonetheless, beyond penetration for semi-educated average laymen who are in charge of conservation policy development or in political leverage to enforce species protection by and by. Ultimately the hodgepodge of thick bureaucracy coupled with weak administrative and political leverage makes a clear cut escape from the overall realm of wildlife science therefore leaving wildlife ecology and conservation as standalone ‘high-class’ obsession to protect biodiversity in the face of malnourished economy, social injustice, burgeoning human population, capitalism hence exploitation and of course hard core poverty and environmental degradation across tropical and neotropical belts. To reverse the trend, bottom-up approach but more importantly radical and revolutionary approach is needed. The kind of approach that integrates mathematics as fundamental language to convey messages across scientific and non scientific arena. This can only be achieved with wide scale integration of mathematics in kindergarten and elementary schools. The kind of mathematics that are not ramshackle hence bounded by dusty curriculum. For example, almost all kindergarten schools in ecologically rich but economically poor nations teaches math in old-fashioned way where numerical solutions of mathematical problems are either solved through using tedious calculator or manually by hand. It is however necessary to learn how to write steps to solve arithmetic and algebraic problems by hand but it is more important to embrace computer programming to write codes that can solve problems. This can out run old fashioned way of doing math by using scientific calculator per se but more so it introduce programming skills to students at very early stage. Almost all ecological and environmental problems are deeply entrenched into devising cutting edge mathematical models and simulation. These can only be performed by utilizing the power of computer programs. In other words the more efficiently one can write programming codes, the better his chance to solve complex problems. Therefore it is at paramount importance to introduce computer programming to students at very early stage of their education. The benefits are enormous and it certainly brings the concept of ‘modern problem solving approaches’ and put the students at the center stage of scientific arguments and consensus. For example, if I ought to know the kill rate that is how many deer an individual tiger can kill per year, I would need to develop a mathematical algorithm after collecting my field data on deer kill by tigers. This at a glance may daunting for kindergarten teachers to teach to their students but it is in fact easier than plotting a function by using scientific calculator. The conservation implication of numerically understand the kill rate is simple. It can enable us to devise management strategy for deer stock knowing how many deers an individual tiger needs per year for survival, breed and to successfully raise its cubs. The kill-rate algorithm can enable me to project future trend in terms of deer population size versus tiger numbers, ecosystem health, survival and mortality rate of both tiger and deer and so on : all critically important to answer in the face of rapid extinction of carnivores across tropical ecosystems. If students and I meant all students are taught math by utilizing the power of 21st century modern approach that is writing codes, chance are high we will end up having a generation pool who will chop off the thick bureaucracy, assimilate science and see the wildlife ecology from the lens of mathematical algorithms. The lectures, my first lecture on R and Maxima programming below will introduce the advantages of writing codes and to solve problems. If students watch the video and then gets motivated to write their own codes, this blog I just typed has achieved its objective. Enjoy coding folks.

Towards Sustainable Ecological Future!


Lecture on R Programming to Solve Mathematical Problems :

Lecture on Maxima Programming to Solve Mathematical Problems :

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