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Old 10-04-2004, 03:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What can we do to extend humanity from itself?

Scientists now say that we are in a new stage of the Earth's history, the Anthropocene Epoch, when we ourselved have become the globe's principal force.

It has become aparent that we, humanity, have become too successful. The unpredicted human pressure on the Earth's ecosystems threatens our future as a species. Food shortages are growing on a global scale. By 2025, two thirds of the world's people are likely to be living in areas of acute water stress. Oil supplies will peak and begin to decline by 2010. There are already well over 6 billion humans alive today. by 2050 this will grow to 8.9 billion. Although the proportion of people living is continuing to fall, the absolute number goes on rising. Poverty matters because it leaves many people no choice but to exploit the environment.

Earth will not be able to sustain human life on it's present course. No one can argue with this. Either something has to be done, or we will face a real threat of extinction within our grandchildrens lifetime. The nearsightedness of governments has prevented population control on a scale that could have an effect. The oil industries fighting alternative fuel has hindered the production of safer vehicles that would save our reserve of fuels and keep the air cleaner.

One of the main goals of any species is the continuation of itself. We reproduce in order to continue living on. Yet, as we live now, we are destryoing ourselves. It is becoming clear that we are too self involved to see that we are self destructing. Many scientists theorise that this is planetary self preservation; we are out of control, so nature is dealing with us.

I was pretty general about this, because being specific about this would take up way too much space. What can we do to prevent the destruction of our species? Why are so many people convinced that we are not in any danger?
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Old 10-04-2004, 11:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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As humans become more numerous and our resource demands begin to exceed what we have, a given group will have a few options:

1) Technology - create more food using less space, and do it faster.

2) Tighten the Belt - consume less food.

3) Shoot your Neighbor - neither of you have enough food, but if he does not need to eat maybe you will. Who knows, maybe he tastes good too.

Earth will not be able to sustain human life on it's present course. No one can argue with this. Either something has to be done, or we will face a real threat of extinction within our grandchildrens lifetime. The nearsightedness of governments has prevented population control on a scale that could have an effect. The oil industries fighting alternative fuel has hindered the production of safer vehicles that would save our reserve of fuels and keep the air cleaner.

Earth will be able to sustain human life, because it will balance out when critical mass is reached. Even if you remove the possibiity of people being killed, some will starve before others, leaving enough food for the remaining people to survive. Extinction is not a danger.
What happens when we run out of oil? Well... cars will stop moving. Some electricity production will go down, cheap plastic toys from Japan will now be really expensive. Life will go on when your BMW will only roll downhill, and I doubt that our skin will be falling off our bones from the toxic air.

Many scientists theorise that this is planetary self preservation; we are out of control, so nature is dealing with us.

This is either untrue, or many scientists are idiots. Nature is not intelligent, it is just a concept. We will deal with ourselves, and come to equilibrium just like every other organism on the planet has managed to do.

I was pretty general about this, because being specific about this would take up way too much space. What can we do to prevent the destruction of our species? Why are so many people convinced that we are not in any danger?

We don't need to do anything to prevent the destruction of our species because we are not in danger. So many people are convinced we are not in danger because they think rationally, and do not believe unbased scaremongering.
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Old 10-05-2004, 01:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ecosystems balance themselves quite nicely. We may try to resist, but I expect that two thirds of the earth's population will be gone in a hundred years.
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Old 10-05-2004, 01:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've always thought it was pretty arrogant of humans to think that we could really do any long term damage to the earth. Having existed only a blink of an eye, geologically speaking, our impact on this planet is extremely minor. If we as a race were to "poof" out of existance tomorrow, very little trace of our existance would remain in just a few short years (IE: ten thousand years).

Even to assume we could doom ourselves to extinction is vastly overstated. How could we possibly eliminate every human being on earth? It's preposterous and highly unlikely. At best we might wipe out the majority of humanity by way of war and/or disease, but without fail the human race can and will survive.
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Old 10-05-2004, 01:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Earth will not be able to sustain human life on it's present course. No one can argue with this. Either something has to be done, or we will face a real threat of extinction within our grandchildrens lifetime.
I tend to agree with the other posters. Why extinction? Why not massive population decline?

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
One of the main goals of any species is the continuation of itself.
Very, very few if any legitimate biologists would support this point. The group of biologists that supported this view were called group selectionists. They argued that individuals do things for the benefit of the group. Group selectionists have gone the way of the dodo. Most biologists that even recognize group selection would regard it as a very weak force, much weaker than genic selection. Species do not have goals. From a biological perspective individuals do not reproduce for the benefit of their species, but rather for themselves (or more appropriately: for the benefit of their genes).

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Yet, as we live now, we are destryoing ourselves. It is becoming clear that we are too self involved to see that we are self destructing. Many scientists theorise that this is planetary self preservation; we are out of control, so nature is dealing with us.
I'm skeptical about your comments regarding planetary self-preservation. Do you have references for the "many scientists"? (I'm honestly curious). Nature is dealing with us? Is nature a conscious entity?

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
I was pretty general about this, because being specific about this would take up way too much space. What can we do to prevent the destruction of our species? Why are so many people convinced that we are not in any danger?
Reasonable questions to which I don't have good answers. Maybe humans aren't capable of thinking about such large populations or such an extensive resource depletion as we have today. I don't know.
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Old 10-06-2004, 07:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
I tend to agree with the other posters. Why extinction? Why not massive population decline?
I think that massive population decline, for whatever reason, would be at least a loss of 50%. That would start us on the right path to stopping overpopulation. So, for the sake of argument, let's say 50% or more of the earths population dies off. If something has the power to wipe out over 3 billion people without us stopping it, it could have enough power to wipe out the other 3 billion. With the massive population loss comes the risk of extinction. I am not saying it is a certian end, but it is a real possibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
Very, very few if any legitimate biologists would support this point. The group of biologists that supported this view were called group selectionists. They argued that individuals do things for the benefit of the group. Group selectionists have gone the way of the dodo. Most biologists that even recognize group selection would regard it as a very weak force, much weaker than genic selection. Species do not have goals. From a biological perspective individuals do not reproduce for the benefit of their species, but rather for themselves (or more appropriately: for the benefit of their genes).
Let's say for the benifit of our genes, we try to reproduce. Does it benifit our genes to self destruct? Of course not. You argued with a moot point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
I'm skeptical about your comments regarding planetary self-preservation. Do you have references for the "many scientists"? (I'm honestly curious). Nature is dealing with us? Is nature a conscious entity?
Nature is not a conscious entity to the best of my knowledge. There are however natural responses to certian happenings that occour naturally or unnaturally. The greenhouse effect is a good example of a natural response to abuse to an environment. If we theoretically were to pump enough crap into the atmosphere, the Earth's atmosphere would begin to heat up. It is not conscious punishment, of course. It is a natural response that happens. If we were to have a real nuclear war, we would see a rise in cancer amoung other things. Admittedly, the scientists I was referring to are few and far between. I can see that the throey could be possible though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
Reasonable questions to which I don't have good answers. Maybe humans aren't capable of thinking about such large populations or such an extensive resource depletion as we have today. I don't know.
I hope someone can think about it on a large scale, because it seems a lot like we are headed in a bad direction globally.
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Old 10-06-2004, 07:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Let's say for the benifit of our genes, we try to reproduce. Does it benifit our genes to self destruct? Of course not. You argued with a moot point.
You suggested that one of the main goals of a species is to preserve itself. I suggested that you were incorrect in that regard. I did not argue a moot point. Also, evolution by natural selection is not forward looking. It operates on differences in reproduction in the current generation. Of course, it does not benefit genes to self-destruct, but again, evolution by natural selection is not forward looking. It doesn't "see" the consequences of current selection on distant generations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
Nature is not a conscious entity to the best of my knowledge. There are however natural responses to certian happenings that occour naturally or unnaturally. The greenhouse effect is a good example of a natural response to abuse to an environment. If we theoretically were to pump enough crap into the atmosphere, the Earth's atmosphere would begin to heat up. It is not conscious punishment, of course. It is a natural response that happens.
I would suggest that this is a consequence rather than a response. (EDIT: response versus consequence may be splitting hairs) The earth isn't trying to kill us in your example. You had suggested that "nature is dealing with us" and that the demise of humanity might be "planetary self-preservation. To me, that sounds like nature is an independent causal entity acting in it's own self interest against humanity. That sounds strange to me. That is why I commented.

Quote:
Originally Posted by willravel
I hope someone can think about it on a large scale, because it seems a lot like we are headed in a bad direction globally.
It certainly seems that way.

Last edited by sapiens; 10-06-2004 at 07:48 PM..
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