Following the theme of consequences, here’s an interesting long read titled, “The Real Story of Globalization.” Here are some highlights:

“Earthworms… especially the common nightcrawler and the red marsh worm… did not exist in North America before 1492.”

“English ships tied up to Virginia docks and took in barrels of rolled-up tobacco leaves… Sailors balanced out the weight by leaving behind their ships’ ballast: stones, gravel and soil. They swapped English dirt for Virginia tobacco.”

“That dirt very likely contained the common nightcrawler and the red marsh worm… Before Europeans arrived, the upper Midwest, New England and all of Canada had no earthworms—they had been wiped out in the last Ice Age.”

“In worm-free woodlands, leaves pile up in drifts on the forest floor… When earthworms arrive, they quickly consume the leaf litter, packing the nutrients deep in the soil in the form of castings (worm excrement). Suddenly, the plants can no longer feed themselves; their fine, surface-level root systems are in the wrong place. Wild sarsaparilla, wild oats, Solomon’s seal and a host of understory plants die off; grass-like species such as Pennsylvania sedge take over. Sugar maples almost stop growing, and ash seedlings start to thrive.”

(via wsj)
Link: Globalization circa 1571 and brought to you by earthworms

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