Ecologies of Scale
|Pablo is a hermit shut-in that owns several under-performing Osa businesses, some opportunistic, others craven, and publishes this mullet wrapper, at least till the money runs out. A jack-of-all-trades and master of none, I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|
The size difference between the largest and smallest known things in the universe spans a scale of 50 orders of magnitude. The Hercules Corona Borealis Great Wall, a mere 9 billion light years from Earth is 12 billion light years wide, that is 1026 meters, and is too large to exist according to contemporary astrophysical theory. In fact it is one ninth the size of the entire observed universe. Excepting the theoretical singularity of quasi-infinite mass at the heart of each black hole, the smallest thing known to man is, depending on whom you ask either the top quark or the neutrino, clocking in at 10-23.8 meters, or slightly less than one yoctomer.
At a mere 1,792 km2 in size, the Osa Peninsula is only 36% larger than metropolitan Houston, Texas, and only 3.5% the size of the largest US county, San Bernardino, in California, which at 51.200 km2 is almost exactly the same size as Costa Rica. But area is only one measure of size. Compare the Osa’s population of around 7,000 to Houston’s 6.2 million. Admittedly, Costa Rica as a whole has twice as many people as San Bernardino County, but the latter is the home of Death Valley and 95% of its expanse has no occupancy whatsoever outside of sidewinders, cacti, and tumbleweed sagebrush.
When we stack shots of guaro up on the nearest bar surface to wager among friends on the latest Osa superlatives, what does it actually mean? National Geographic famously boosted our bragging rights on biodiversity with its claim that 2.5% of the planet’s diversity calls the Osa home. I ran the numbers on species per unit area and compared it to the planet as a whole. From my calculations the Osa’s biodiversity, expressed in species per unit area is 50,000 times greater than the planetary average.
Often you hear the term “economies of scale.” What about “ecologies of scale?”
In the geologically and topographically complex ophiolitic flanks of the peninsula’s highest peak, Mount Mueller after an apparent ex-pat explorer unknown to Google, the annual rainfall of 7000 mm exceeds the annual rainfall of most of the rest of the planet. The Osa is one zillionth the size of the United States, yet it has extremes in biodiversity and precipitation than can be touched nowhere within any local reach of that Colossus to the North.
What it means to me is the Osa has a lock on bragging rights that places its relevance in the existential sweepstakes right up at the very top, not at all unlike the Lost Ark of the Covenant, except that the Osa is neither lost nor is it an ark. But it does have a Covenant between its land and people to exercise resource conservation, sustainable development, resource recovery, recycling and re-use, and embrace that our hearts are intrinsically tied to this superlative peninsula.
Hardly bragging rights, this is just the backdrop of the daily commute, slow-walking to forestall a breaking 7:00 am sweat, oblivious to the unusualness in a global context of each footfall between home and work. But no one captures the full enormity of it. The full enormity appears to not be capturable.
I suspect the fear and loathing in Las Vegas had little to do with Las Vegas and much to do with the a caustic, naked voice it the unleashing. On precepts of demographics and basic micro-economic theory Sol de Osa should not be viable. How can a region so small support a monthly newspaper? After the first edition or two, won’t it all have been said? The ego is itching for a fight; the super-ego bats it away as a puny and ridiculous objection, a quark v a quasar. Dr. Thompson would hopefully agree.
Chaos theory and fractal mathematics, from my understanding, would posit that the 400 meter shoreline that you walk between the Agualuna Bar and Restaurante Delfines along Puerto Jimenez’s boulevard, a distance you will cover in ten minutes tops, is a distance that you could set out walking at the age of 20 and never complete by age 80, or at any age for that matter. To follow the shoreline precisely, one must get down to the level of the boundaries between land and water at the scale not just of each grain of sand but indeed to angstromic proportions, to the contact between the molecules of encroaching spume on the molecules of the sand grain’s mineral matrix to completely walk the shoreline. You can’t go too much deeper since there are intrinsic boundary conditions between molecules of water and pyroxene. But you get the point.
Because of its innate complexity, each grain of sand along the beach has a collection of information sufficient to fill years of monthly rags like this one with its many physical and chemical curiosities. Draw out from the grain of sand and bring into focus a scarlet macaw, and throw in a human being, next a structure. Add to that a society and polity and the volume of relevant information contained already competes within an average cerebrum with that of an entire galaxy.
There are places on Earth and in time in which the macro and micro mirror one another and leave the average Homo sapiens specimen momentarily and suddenly awestruck with the fulsome and vital intuitive complexity of our indispensable reality. To gainsay a recent Finnish millennial, winging it in English: “it is all of it quite truly epic!”
There’s more as the cliché goes on this peninsula—and everywhere at all scales—than you can shake a stick at! The more that our diligent staff and raft of talented and insightful writers look into any given subject, the more seems to emerge of inherent interest to all.
But that comes likely as little surprise.