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  • #4905
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    dash
    Member

    Rezwan wrote: I do like the idea of exploring human importance to nature, and building on that portfolio. The partnership angle. For example, we can prove our worth by developing asteroid deflecting skills and increasing habitat and diversity, which would be in the other critters’ self interest.

    This is an interesting topic.

    For me, the best thing humans can do is simply expand outward from earth. Colonize other planets, have spinning space based living environments, travel to other stars.

    And every step of the way, carry a rich variety of earth’s lifeforms along for the ride. What a great way for humans to pay back all they’ve taken from nature.

    #4952
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    Brian H
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    Ah, overpopulation. The trump card.

    If all the world was organized into 4-person families, living in 2 story houses on 4600 sq.’ lots — they’d all fit inside Texas. And then you could have all the rest for yourself!

    #4974
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    Warwick
    Member

    Brian H wrote: Ah, overpopulation. The trump card.

    If all the world was organized into 4-person families, living in 2 story houses on 4600 sq.’ lots — they’d all fit inside Texas. And then you could have all the rest for yourself!

    Well that’s very kind of you. Actually the distribution of land ownership is pretty much like that in many countries (but it’s not me that happens to own it).

    When we all live in Texas (most of us in the middle of a desert then), where are we getting water, food, wood? At the moment we like to get water and wood by depleting natural sources so that ecosystems die off or are gradually attrited. We like to get more food by progressive deforestation / desertification, and intensification. The pollution created by agrochemicals now befouls rivers across most of the Western world, and there are plenty of ecosystems that have been wiped out completely.

    And yes if we all live in Texas there will be no lack of room for wildlife, but since that hasn’t happened yet, we’re kind of spread out and like to build lots of roads and cars. Rezwan’s flying cars will be here one day maybe, then we can just kill birds, but I think that for the average subsistence farmer in the majority world, that day is a long way off. It’s been shown many times that the effect of dividing up wildwood with roads is that the ecosystem fails – all the larger species need to cross the roads and if they can’t they’re screwed. We could imagine a different world where is some weird and wonderful rural public transport, but let’s not bet on it.

    It’s not easy to persuade someone affluent to do something such that they’d barely notice the difference, like driving a 1 litre car instead of a 3 litre car, so is it realistic that we are going to see a big change in human behaviour away from things like poaching endangered species (which makes a huge difference to someone poor)? The Chinese demand them for medicine, African herders see them as a threat to livestock, and so on.

    In the US, populations have about depleted the Great Plains aquifer that is the water source for quite a large patch of states. Never mind what’s happening to the good ol everglades. California too will be running out of water within 30 years.

    Many of us also use things like varnish, paint, plastic, jewellery, birth control pills, and so on and so on, which release environmentally hazardous chemicals (hazardous to humans too if they stick around long enough) in their manufacture and/or use. With few enough people doing it, things will come back to a balance; we passed that point long ago.

    And sure, world food shortages (as opposed to famines caused by a shortage of funds, a la Amartya Sen) would not be happening without factory-farming. If we devoted arable land mostly to feeding humans, food would be relatively plentiful.

    But without civilisation we will one day converge to a Malthusian equilibrium where we are running out of something, or everything, or overtaken by a massive disease – it’s in our nature. We’re rabbits, not foxes.

    #4988
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    Brian H
    Member

    Warwick wrote:

    Ah, overpopulation. The trump card.

    If all the world was organized into 4-person families, living in 2 story houses on 4600 sq.’ lots — they’d all fit inside Texas. And then you could have all the rest for yourself!

    Well that’s very kind of you. Actually the distribution of land ownership is pretty much like that in many countries (but it’s not me that happens to own it).

    When we all live in Texas (most of us in the middle of a desert then), where are we getting water, food, wood? At the moment we like to get water and wood by depleting natural sources so that ecosystems die off or are gradually attrited. We like to get more food by progressive deforestation / desertification, and intensification. The pollution created by agrochemicals now befouls rivers across most of the Western world, and there are plenty of ecosystems that have been wiped out completely.

    And yes if we all live in Texas there will be no lack of room for wildlife, but since that hasn’t happened yet, we’re kind of spread out and like to build lots of roads and cars. Rezwan’s flying cars will be here one day maybe, then we can just kill birds, but I think that for the average subsistence farmer in the majority world, that day is a long way off. It’s been shown many times that the effect of dividing up wildwood with roads is that the ecosystem fails – all the larger species need to cross the roads and if they can’t they’re screwed. We could imagine a different world where is some weird and wonderful rural public transport, but let’s not bet on it.

    It’s not easy to persuade someone affluent to do something such that they’d barely notice the difference, like driving a 1 litre car instead of a 3 litre car, so is it realistic that we are going to see a big change in human behaviour away from things like poaching endangered species (which makes a huge difference to someone poor)? The Chinese demand them for medicine, African herders see them as a threat to livestock, and so on.

    In the US, populations have about depleted the Great Plains aquifer that is the water source for quite a large patch of states. Never mind what’s happening to the good ol everglades. California too will be running out of water within 30 years.

    Many of us also use things like varnish, paint, plastic, jewellery, birth control pills, and so on and so on, which release environmentally hazardous chemicals (hazardous to humans too if they stick around long enough) in their manufacture and/or use. With few enough people doing it, things will come back to a balance; we passed that point long ago.

    And sure, world food shortages (as opposed to famines caused by a shortage of funds, a la Amartya Sen) would not be happening without factory-farming. If we devoted arable land mostly to feeding humans, food would be relatively plentiful.

    But without civilisation we will one day converge to a Malthusian equilibrium where we are running out of something, or everything, or overtaken by a massive disease – it’s in our nature. We’re rabbits, not foxes.

    Both analogies are false. We’re neither. Food is not a problem, except insofar as people attempt to generalize and super-size regional diets like sushi, which will almost certainly shortly delete bluefins from the wild. As for farming, there are many ways to skin that carrot; check out urban hi-rise farms, e.g. And FF power makes all sorts of other models viable.

    #4993
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    Rezwan
    Member

    Warwick wrote: And yes if we all live in Texas there will be no lack of room for wildlife, but since that hasn’t happened yet, we’re kind of spread out and like to build lots of roads and cars. Rezwan’s flying cars will be here one day maybe, then we can just kill birds, but I think that for the average subsistence farmer in the majority world, that day is a long way off. It’s been shown many times that the effect of dividing up wildwood with roads is that the ecosystem fails – all the larger species need to cross the roads and if they can’t they’re screwed. We could imagine a different world where is some weird and wonderful rural public transport, but let’s not bet on it.

    “All my exes live in Texas, that’s why I live in Tennessee.”

    BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) goes underground through the city of Berkeley, instead of above ground as it does in most other cities. This is because the good citizens and their elected officials thought that a rail system would bisect the city and create an “other side of the tracks” situation, which they didn’t like.

    So, they paid double the price per mile to stick the whole thing under. Choice. Affluence. Trade offs, values.

    I don’t see that it would cost that much to take certain portions of roads and stick them underground or raise them above at certain spots that coincide with migration routes.

    Or, better yet, to become a people that pays more attention to migration patterns. Like surfers who check the tides, we’d have people linked in to migrations, getting data from some of the herd that are tagged with gps linked speed and directional sensors. (Like how they have sig alerts on the internet – you can see the rate of traffic flow on all the major freeways in LA – probably everywhere).

    Perhaps we’d have cowboys, too. Or girlscouts and boyscouts all out there getting their migration badges or whatever. [Note: the massive animal migration incompatibility with human civilization/property/transport is one of the issues I’m most interested in exploring. It’s next in line after fusion for my big issues. Oh, maybe water cycle – well, that overlaps with both.]

    I suspect that, as we solve the affluence problem and get rid of this sense of fear and survival and miserly possessiveness that people have which makes them see everything as property they must hoard and control – perspective on nature will shift, and become much more interesting.

    It’s the limited resources paradigm, after all, that is behind a lot of things that are supposedly for our sake, but really are not what we want. Take those commercials where someone has a headache, and they take a pill and feel better. The person is shown at a grueling job, where they can’t miss a second, but because of the pill, they get to stay on the job. Yippee.

    Obviously, evil employers are behind that ad. If your employee has splitting headaches, their body is telling them to get rest and change their lifestyle. Many employers just see the workers as tools, want them to ignore the sensible message from their bodies to get rest. So they vilify the headache, and not the insane work hours, and work to solve the symptom (headache), and not the cause of the headache (life out of balance).

    All of that is possible, is reinforced, under a survivalist mentality, where you’re worried someone else will take your job if you don’t kill yourself working, or the Chinese will control market share, or whatever. Zero sum self and nature exploitation. Very boring. And I don’t think it reflects reality. But people do get shrill about it.

    This is often couched in terms of “efficiency”.

    The temptation of efficiency is strong, and certainly, efficiency has its place. But I think a big part of human essence is inefficiency, gratuitous exploration, play. Hopefully, this will assert itself more as years go by. The grumpy hoarding survivalist generations will pass, and the emerging generations will be a lot more groovy about it all. More integrated with natural patterns, setting their clocks by wildebeest migrations, very happy to have excuses to not go to work for 3 weeks at a time while roads are closed.

    #4995
    Avatar
    Rezwan
    Member

    Brian H wrote: Both analogies are false. We’re neither. Food is not a problem, except insofar as people attempt to generalize and super-size regional diets like sushi, which will almost certainly shortly delete bluefins from the wild. As for farming, there are many ways to skin that carrot; check out urban hi-rise farms, e.g. And FF power makes all sorts of other models viable.

    Brian, could you try to just include the parts of the quote you are actually referring to? Like, you can go back in and delete most of Warwick’s quote, and just leave that last sentence about the rabbits and foxes, which is, what I think, you’re referring to.

    It would make it easier to see what you’re talking about and clear the clutter.

    Pet peeve of mine.

    Thanks!

    #5000
    Avatar
    dash
    Member

    Rezwan wrote: [Note: the massive animal migration incompatibility with human civilization/property/transport is one of the issues I’m most interested in exploring. It’s next in line after fusion for my big issues. Oh, maybe water cycle – well, that overlaps with both.]

    I’ve got a story for you that a woman told me.

    She’s probably nearing her 60’s now. She used to work in some power company on the east coast, right on the Atlantic. She was a security guard. The plant had just opened and she was working the night shift. One night on a full moon she noticed the ground toward the beach seemed to be moving. She went out with her flashlight and saw the ground was covered with sea turtles, marching in to the plant property.

    It was a full moon thing, they’re supposed to follow the full moon out to sea, but the plant had some big spotlights they’d turn on at night. The turtles were coming up out of their eggs, laid in the sand. And following their instincts they were going after the wrong light and certain death.

    The woman managed to get the lights turned off quickly enough, and the turtles turned around and headed out to sea, and they survived.

    The company then did a bit of research and now knows the timing of the hatchings, and they always turn the lights off during this time. As far as I know there were no environmentalists involved, no government intervention. Just the people in the company who had the power to make decisions decided what was the thing to do given the circumstances.

    #5002
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    Warwick
    Member

    Brian H wrote: As for farming, there are many ways to skin that carrot; check out urban hi-rise farms, e.g. And FF power makes all sorts of other models viable.

    I looked into it. Hydroponics, interesting as it is as a curiosity, has some significant issues as a replacement for soil-based farming. You may be supposing that the nutrient chemicals will be recycled indefinitely but in my experience of growing plants in water, that’s definitely not what happens. Algal growth is inevitable and you periodically have to refresh the water. Plants that grow without access to minerals, do not represent a source of those minerals for humans. What about bees? Are they going to have everything they need to survive on in the building? Do we even know what that is, they’re monstrously fiddly creatures to manage (as certain countries are finding out, thanks to Roundup Ready). It could be an idea with a future, but it’s never going to replace what we basically need – soil-grown crops, grown organically and sustainably.

    #5003
    Avatar
    Rezwan
    Member

    dash wrote: The company then did a bit of research and now knows the timing of the hatchings, and they always turn the lights off during this time. As far as I know there were no environmentalists involved, no government intervention. Just the people in the company who had the power to make decisions decided what was the thing to do given the circumstances.

    AWWWW! What a tear jerker. Those misguided turtles finding the moon. It would be great PR for that company to make an ad out about this. Especially if it’s an annual occurrence. Goodwill may get them more market share. In any case, I’d like to see it.

    #5004
    Avatar
    Warwick
    Member

    Rezwan wrote:
    I suspect that, as we solve the affluence problem and get rid of this sense of fear and survival and miserly possessiveness that people have which makes them see everything as property they must hoard and control – perspective on nature will shift, and become much more interesting.

    Two sides to that. Surveys show that rich people are the most materialistic. Correlation or causation?
    On the other hand, I used to work with someone from an oil company who would tell me about having to explain to the directors about how you just _can’t_ persuade someone at a refinery to pay any attention to environmental practices when their horizon is dominated by the immediate survival needs of their family.
    Maybe like with a lot of things, if being a bully is at the top, and being a victim is at the bottom, freedom is in the middle.

    Rezwan wrote:
    It’s the limited resources paradigm, after all, that is behind a lot of things that are supposedly for our sake, but really are not what we want. Take those commercials where someone has a headache, and they take a pill and feel better. The person is shown at a grueling job, where they can’t miss a second, but because of the pill, they get to stay on the job. Yippee.

    Obviously, evil employers are behind that ad. If your employee has splitting headaches, their body is telling them to get rest and change their lifestyle. Many employers just see the workers as tools, want them to ignore the sensible message from their bodies to get rest. So they vilify the headache, and not the insane work hours, and work to solve the symptom (headache), and not the cause of the headache (life out of balance).

    I know exactly the ads you’re talking about. The thing is, 50 years ago, futurologists told us that robot slaves would have reduced the amount of work and that we would have much more leisure. So why, at least outside the home, did it not materialise? One answer is because capital has actually increased its power to take a share of income – partly as a result of monopolization in many sectors. More prosaically, the *increase* in work hours over recent decades is directly due to several factors: the demise of the power of trade unions, labour market deregulation, the rise of white-collar wage-slavery due to changes in labour supply. The changes have had the biggest impact at the bottom of the scale, with unskilled workers frequently being expected to work weekends if they are going to be the lucky one that gets the job.
    Meanwhile, in France they still have the 35-hour week I think. But who would invest there when they can go somewhere the workers do 45-60 hours a week?

    Rezwan wrote:
    All of that is possible, is reinforced, under a survivalist mentality, where you’re worried someone else will take your job if you don’t kill yourself working, or the Chinese will control market share, or whatever. Zero sum self and nature exploitation. Very boring. And I don’t think it reflects reality. But people do get shrill about it.

    This is often couched in terms of “efficiency”.

    The temptation of efficiency is strong, and certainly, efficiency has its place. But I think a big part of human essence is inefficiency, gratuitous exploration, play. Hopefully, this will assert itself more as years go by. The grumpy hoarding survivalist generations will pass, and the emerging generations will be a lot more groovy about it all. More integrated with natural patterns, setting their clocks by wildebeest migrations, very happy to have excuses to not go to work for 3 weeks at a time while roads are closed.

    Except that many people would be perfectly justified, in today’s world, to correctly assume that someone else will have your job if you don’t kill yourself working. And the idea that “the hoarding survivalist generations will pass” supposes incorrectly that long work-weeks are a voluntary choice on behalf of the employed.

    Obviously I’m writing this as I wait for my Professor to reply to me so I can carry on editing, it’s only 8.38 pm. 🙂

    #5005
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    Rezwan
    Member

    Warwick wrote: …but it’s never going to replace what we basically need – soil-grown crops, grown organically and sustainably.

    I’d love to see more acreage given over to organic farming, and also to gratuitous growing of heirloom plants with no consumption value. Pure biodiversity exercises.

    However, I don’t know that I equate “organically grown” with basic human food needs or even sustainability. “Sustainable” being defined as something you can keep doing in perpetuity. I think with the numbers of people involved, and nitrogen fixing limitations or un-fertilized soil, you’d get more bang for your buck with food sky scrapers replacing soil farms. Artificial, sure, but productive and meeting most basic food requirements rather cheaply. The bulk of soil farming today is mono-cropping that destroys soil, so you may as well figure out the issues of the hydroponic farms and do the same thing with less land.

    So you’d have a mixed portfolio of the cheap, mass produced stuff, and more land being diverted to higher end organic stuff.

    Have you read “Omnivore’s Dilemma?”

    Have you driven by Harris ranch on the 5 freeway?

    #5006
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    dash
    Member

    Rezwan wrote: Have you driven by Harris ranch on the 5 freeway?

    Oh yeah, back in the 1980’s when I was going to UC Berkeley I used to drive by there often, my parents live in Pasadena. You can smell it for miles. Cows in huge dirt lots. They used to water them with sprinklers. Then right in the midst of it is the Harris Ranch Restaurant. With a convenient small airplane runway. I guess that’s a feed lot. All in all it didn’t look especially inhumane.

    #5007
    Avatar
    Rezwan
    Member

    Warwick wrote:
    Except that many people would be perfectly justified, in today’s world, to correctly assume that someone else will have your job if you don’t kill yourself working. And the idea that “the hoarding survivalist generations will pass” supposes incorrectly that long work-weeks are a voluntary choice on behalf of the employed.

    Work is so uneven. I know a lot of people who have to maintain the appearance of working at work, but are really surfing the internet. Others who work like dogs. I’m not sure we have it so bad compared to the generations of yore who woke up at 4 am every day to milk the cows or who worked the 12 hour shifts in the factories. And in Iran, few people seem to work at all. Posing at the office, getting a paycheck from oil dollars. Some unlucky people doing really difficult unpleasant work. Many people living off the paychecks of a few… very unproductive society. And that pesky “Matthew effect” adding to the unfairness of it all.

    By “hoarding survivalist generation” – I didn’t mean it was their voluntary choice, but they have been conditioned. Of course, circumstances have to change first. We have to be in a defacto world of effectively unlimited resources, such as one with unlimited energy…

    Wait. No, that’s not it. Maybe we’re all hoarders, no matter what. Human nature. I think there’s plenty to go around now if we weren’t such hoarders. But you see how shrill people get when someone tries to suggest sharing and such. So, I don’t think, given our nature, we can share. The only solution is to not have to share, to live in a world of unlimited resources. In other words, I guess I give up on people. They are at heart, little petty creatures. Who really make things unpleasant for each other. So let them drown in sugar and abundance!

    Hmm. That’s depressing. I didn’t realize the implications of my thoughts. I must meditate on this. I don’t think it’s coming from a good place.

    I shall take a rest from posting and get back to what I was supposed to work on as well!

    #5008
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    Rezwan
    Member

    dash wrote: I guess that’s a feed lot. All in all it didn’t look especially inhumane.

    OK. Invite a thousand people over, have them all poop in your house until the floor is covered. Then hang out in your house. Until you die.

    Then get back to me on your concept of “humane”.

    #5010
    Avatar
    dash
    Member

    Rezwan wrote: OK. Invite a thousand people over, have them all poop in your house until the floor is covered. Then hang out in your house. Until you die.

    Then get back to me on your concept of “humane”.

    I imagine if you grew up in that environment you’d get used to it. Maybe there are nuances to the smell. “Ah, the ***t is especially fragrant today, don’t you think?”

    Anyway arguments about the living conditions and comfort of animals that are grown only for slaughter are lost on me. I figure if we’re going to eat animals, lets use farming methods that are sustainable to produce the animals — as opposed to driving animals in the wild to extinction. So the farm grown animals are the sacrifice I willingly pay to protect the others.

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