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Issue Date: 1999
Abstract: The relationship between Man and Nature has traditionally been causal. Man had to learn to cope with the diasters and disease that Nature unleashed and exploit the materials and resources that were doled out. Through observations and trials, Man had to leam to work within the basic limits and cycles of Nature. It was such that Man's life was subordinated to the whims of Nature. This initial master-slave relationship underwent a change over time. The transformation gradually came about as the workings and understanding of Nature were refined and reworked into applications to ease Man's life. Over time, applications of Nature's laws reached a level of sophistication such that Man's survival was no longer totally under the whims of Nature. The relationship changed even further as Man went a step further in being able to definitely alter the state of Nature to a large scale to suit his own conditions. The direct causal relationship between the two was severed as Man no longer becomes subordinate to Nature's whims but is instead able to control aspects of Nature for his own benefits. The relationship between the two is more of equals than subordinates. However, Man's new ability to shape and alter the natural conditions comes with responsibility. Man had to understand the consequences of his meddling with the normal workings of Nature. He had to be aware that in shaping the natural environment to his own needs/wants, Man inadvertly upsets the natural rhythms and cycles of life. In doing so, he sets a chain of events that endangers the survival of other organisms. The chain of events builds up by affecting in turn more and more organisms. Finally, the cycle is turned to endanger Man's own survival as ultimately his life is still enmeshed within the intricacies of Nature. The conditions of today's coral reefs is a prime example of how Man can either save or destroy the natural environment. Once a source of food, reefs are now being polluted, overfished and destroyed through Man's actions. Although it may not be apparent in the short term, this affects the overall population of marine organisms in the larger sea. (Dr Chou Loke Ming) This is because many large marine life are indirectly dependent on the reefs for food. The relationship is such that the reefs provide a militude of small marine life as food for large marine life that prey on them. These large marine life are in turn preyed upon by other marine organisms that live in the larger seas. Thus, life within the reef is tightly tied with life beyond the reef. By destroying reefs indiscriminately, Man is ultimately destroying his own future hopes of survival. CoraJ reefs thrive within the many islands of South East Asia. In fact, the South East Asian region is one of four(the Caribbean/Bahamas region, the Mediterranean region, the Indian ocean and Australian region) major areas of reef growths. The sheer variety and diversity of the corals in South East Asia seas matches those of the other regions. Already, this region is gaining popularity as a major hub for diving tours from within and beyond Asia, (see appendix) The economic potential of the reefs here is significant. Studies are also being done to harness the medical and bio-technical potential of the coral organism. Researchers hope to derive cancer-related drugs and other possible medications from the coral organism. The reef is also like a huge natural laboratory for academic research into ecology due to the many intricate relationships between organisms within the reef With all these potential, coral reefs in South East Asia need to be better managed. Yet, the present situation is such that many reefs are slowly dying off due to unregulated activities. Man needs to understand the role that the reef plays in his life. It maintains, indirectly, a source of food for his future, has great economic potential and also may prove to save his life in the future. He cannot be under the illusion that this aspect of nature can have no impact on his life. Already, the scientific community within the Asian region is coming together to decide on appropriate courses of action. (Dr Chou Loke Ming) Main concerns are how to preserve the existing reefs and create new growth areas. The race is on as the region develops economically and industrializes and destroys existing natural reef areas and Singapore is one of the natural hub in this race due to the strong academic research facilities and geographical location.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Restricted)

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