The Real Story of Globalization....and Invasive Species

In its Saturday Essay, the Wall Street Journal published a preview to Charles Mann's new book entitled, "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created".  The Essay provides insights into the real story of globalization, part of which included the introduction of invasive species in what would eventually be the United States.  In fact, a growing number of scholars believe that the ecological transformation set off by Columbus's voyages was one of the establishing events of the modern world.For example, did you know that earthworms did not exist before 1492?  Before the Europeans arrived, the upper Midwest, New England and all of Canada had no earthworms -- they were wiped out in the last Ice Age.  The arrival of worms in these new areas changed the entire ecosystem. In the same fashion, feral pigeons were also introduced by the early European settlers that brought the birds on ships -- some intentionally for food or communication -- although some probably came inadvertently as well.  These birds are now considered one of the most populous nuisance species in the country, and around the world. In the Wall Street Journal Essay, Mann provides many different fascinating insights to the how the early voyages of Columbus changed our ecosystem -- some in good ways, others with often unanticipated consequences.