If I ask you to close your eyes and think of water, ¿What’s the first thing that comes to your mind, the ocean, a hot shower or maybe beautiful rain? How about páramos ? Probably you would never think of paramos but for us Ecuadoreans the biggest amount of water that supplies major cities comes from the ecosystem that lives inside our mountains. It represents 7% of all the country’s land and you can call it the purest water making machine 2.0.
The mother earth made machine gave the air department the management of water production in all its forms, from the glaciers and snowfalls, rain or mist from the air. All this production is managed by the ground department for filtering through hundreds of layers of volcanic rocks and a great concentration of organic matter to gradually send the production down. The process goes through a million year old perfect working machine to produce life, without water there is no life. Paramos are vital for weather regulation, water cycle and the economic, social and cultural development of the population.
Unfortunately our life machine is slowly breaking down. The signs are all there and many symptoms are causing the breakdown. Around the 1800 hundreds a visionnaire called Alexander Von Humboldt decided to give up all his aristocratic / luxury life in order to travel the world and study and read and experience life. The Prussian scientist discovered through his trips through Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador man made climate change. Imagine conceiving the concept of man made climate change in those years? Even now there are people that do not think it’s real but it is the most important symptom because it has triggered an avalanche of effects that affect the ecosystem in different flanks.
During Humboldt’s visit to Ecuador he got to see what he believed to be the highest mountain of the world. It was a long life dream of his to visit and climb it. Unfortunately he did not manage to climb due to the hard conditions and the lack of proper equipment, but instead he formulated his new vision of nature in a sketch called naturgemalde, a german term that can’t be translated but can mean Painting Of Nature, it also means a sense of unity and wholeness. ¨Nature was a living whole, everything is conected¨.
The illustration showed Chimborazo and nature as a web in which everything was connected. You could see different species distributed according to the altitude in which they grew. Every plant was placed in the altitude that Humboldt had found it. The Naturegemalde showed for the first time to the world that nature was a global force with corresponding climate zones across continents.