The modification of inland waters

TitleThe modification of inland waters
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1978
AuthorsJr. JCairns
EditorBrokaw H.P
Book TitleWildlife and America
PublisherCouncil on Environmental Quality
CityWashington D. C.

Any modification of inland waters which produces displacement of ecosystem structure or function is to be regarded as a degradation of ecological integrity. Organisms are dependent upon environmental conditions, and when these are severely disrupted, the species locked to them cease to thrive or even to survive. Our society, however, with its present population size, distribution, and materialistic individual expectations, is dependent upon an industrialized technological system. This relationship has been developing for many generations, and we could not revert overnight to a notably simpler life even if a majority of citizens desired to do so. The basic problem, then, is how to strike a balance between the needs of natural systems and those of an industrial society. This means using natural systems intelligently with minimal degradation and instituting vigorous quality control practices to insure adequate protection (Cairns, 1975). Some areas should be designated as wild and receive maximum protection. Most areas will be used more extensively for industrial, housing, agriculture, recreational, and other purposes but should be adequately protected under an enlightened stewardship. Badly damaged ecosystems should be restored to an acceptable condition.