Glad to see you are thinking about things other than just Paris Hilton
on your hike, you want to know what I think? Here you go:
1) I don't believe you :) Like me you believe man is part of the
natural world (Huxley said in response to the question what is man's
place in nature?: Among the apes. The early Darwinians realised man
was not a separate entity but just a continuation of natural
selection. Arguing man is not natural is probably as wrong as arguing
man was created by divine intervention â€“perhaps we have never fully
been able to accept that man is the same as every other organism)
however you are still, like me, vegan and you are still minimising
your footprint. I think if George Bush had typed the email you just
typed his conclusion to "man's actions just being part of the cycle of
the natural world" would be to crank up the burners and rev up the
chainsaws. You, I think, can see both of the perceptives, man being
part of nature, but man's actions as 'unatural' in that they are
damaging what we have.
2) Scale! The Beaver can do whatever he pleases, reconfiguring
all the rivers in the world is nothing compared to altering the chemical
make up of the atmosphere and potentially/making extinct a whole range of organisms. (I am sure you will cover this in your global warming email â€“ natural oscillations have always happened and climate change is just one of those things. However, this is the first time when humans have had
the brain to appreciate (admittedly we understand very little) what is
happening. We also must accept climate change, in the drastic sense,
will be the demise of our civilisation as we know it â€“ yeh ok its
natural, but its also, in your definition, natural for us to try and
stop it to preserve our way of life).
3) We have a sophisticated brain and are able to type emails like this.
We have the privilege of being able to put things in perspective and
think retrospectively. We are emotional and that is as much of being
human as anything else. The polar bear who pushes the freeze button
(love it!) might think twice about putting his paw down if he had the
brain to firstly appreciate natural beauty and the diversity of the
world at this moment in Life's history and secondly the comprehension
that by pushing it, he would be destroying all of that. We have the
capability of planning. Yeh we could all live like they do in Tokoyo
in a barren world with no biodiversity but would we be happy? Are we
even happy now? All that nature might want and what we are
adapted to do is to replicate DNA but we understand this â€“ so if we
don't like it we can do something about it. E.g. choosing not to have
kids â€“ its 'unnatural' but we can make that choice.
Err here's a few things that came to mind as I read that might
illustrate the above points better.
> However, it's a bit crazy to believe that our brains, which are
> only 100,000 years old, would be capable of overriding three
> billion years of programming.
I think the Western lifestyle with the privilege of not having to
worry about where our next meal comes from have the luxury of being
able to do this. An Asian fisherman might get out his drag net even
though he knows that there's no fish left from necessity, we don't
have to do this.
> I love to ask myself odd questions when I'm walking in the
> CDT. Why are blades of grass so tightly packed? Why aren't
>they spread out like trees in alpine terrain? Why aren't trees in
>alpine terrain packed like blades of grass? The answer is always
>the same: that's the maximum the environment can sustain.
I like this. I had to read Origin of Species the other day for my
exam. Darwin talks in chapter 4 of the natural world being 'full' on
every level there are different species adapted to their niches and if
there is room for something else it will evolve and fill the gaps (that
is why a foreign species can be introduced sometimes and prosper
without necessarily out competing something else and why new varieties
comes about) â€“ evolution is not complete because everything keeps
shifting to fill in these gaps and make Life denser and denser.
>Perhaps that wall is 20 billion humans on the planet (we're 6.5 > billion now).
And what happens when we hit it? I reckon our population will suddenly
crash. If we all lived in carbon neutral houses and didn't pollute
then hypothetically we could reach massive numbers (we could work out
this number using an equation) but we wont ever live like this â€“its
contrived. Instead we will get to the point when all the rivers are
unfit to drink and all the food is no longer giving us the nutrients
we need and the air is rank.
I think it is better we quit now while we are ahead :)
>Is fully utilizing all their talents "unnatural"? On the contrary,
>not fully utilizing all our talents is unnatural! Just ask Dolly
Deciding not to with our brains is just as natural as deciding to do so.
> How many strawberries, corn fields, and chickens would exist
> in the world if humans weren't around? We're doing those
> species a favor by modifying the ecosystem so that they
> reproduce more than if we weren't helping out.
I think a lot of lifestock would have a hard time surviving without
our helping hand â€“ we have artificially selected them to be
monstrosities! A cow, bred for its huge udders or its massive rump
could no longer run from your mountain lion if it was put back into a
>become a vegan like me.
Have you always been a vegan? That's a pretty unnatural diet to your
>But aren't we "artificially" helping some species with our
>tractors and pesticides? A tractor and pesticides are as natural
> as the stick a chimp uses to access a hole full of ants;
A tractor vs a stick!
>Also, all the artificial stuff we create (polyester, sucrolose,
>Untrioctium) are all derived from natural elements, just like salt
>is a combination of sodium and chloride (NaCl). We don't create
>anything from scratch.
Is this natural?
http://www.creightonmagazine.org/files/ ... se-ear.jpg
> At times we'll unwisely alter an ecosystem, but after paying the
> price, we adjust. That's what all life does.
Are humans prepared to pay the cost of this? If this is the attitude
we must take, we must be prepared for life as we know it to rapidly
change and the population to plummet and then rebuild. This is not
pleasant, its very harsh truth with a lot of death and suffering. I'd
say most people would rather avoid it and with our brains we could do.
>Not compared to the "100% all-natural" asteroid that pummeled
>our planet 65 million years ago and killed off the dinosaurs.
That could not be predicted. Our disasters potentially can.