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katzemacht

Talk has not halted biodiversity loss

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The general decline in biodiversity is an issue not to be ignored, but the scientific community in the fields of zoology, botany and ecology knew how the planet's ecosystem requires for biodiversity to be preserved and not interrupted. The introduction of thousands of invasive "alien" species from one environment to another, when a new animal or plant finds new space to conquer without predation, can drive perhaps hundreds of other species into extinction. The examples of invasive species brought from over from other lands into Hawaii, Australia and other geographically isolated eco-realms proved ot be catastrophic, like the reason for Australian concerns on biodiversity, from how English toads and bunnies displaced indigenous frogs and a few now-extinct kinds of wallabies in the 19th century.

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I would start with making signatory countries enforce their existing obligations.

"... French secretary of state for ecology, Chantal Jouanno. She announced that there would be no further major efforts to restore the population of Pyrenean brown bears, of which fewer than 20 remain. Extensive scientific research shows that this population is not viable. European agreements oblige France to sustain the population. Yet the government knows that the political costs of reintroducing more bears outweigh the costs of inaction. Immediate special interests triumph over the world's natural wonders, even in nations which have the money and the means to protect them."

"Immediate special interests" = $$$, land development, and votes.

We need a cultural shift, a redefinition of progress.

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Species will go extinct, if they have not evolved/adapted sufficuantly.

I am not saying we should go out of our way to kill them off, but i dont think we should go to silly lengths to save them

The Panda for example, is an evolutionary dead end, it has no use, no purpose, it is fragile, inneficiant the only reason we invest so much effort into keeping it alive is because it looks cute.

Keystone species should be saved, the others are not so important in my opinion.

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Species will go extinct, if they have not evolved/adapted sufficuantly.

I am not saying we should go out of our way to kill them off, but i dont think we should go to silly lengths to save them

The Panda for example, is an evolutionary dead end, it has no use, no purpose, it is fragile, inneficiant the only reason we invest so much effort into keeping it alive is because it looks cute.

Keystone species should be saved, the others are not so important in my opinion.

I'm sorry, but that's just ridiculous. You treat species as isolates. Ha! It couldn't be further from the truth.

All drops of water ripple every part of the pond, they just do it less the further they spread. All species are important and worthy of protection. What you're talking about is letting go of species BECAUSE WE HAVE MADE THEM UNFIT, and not because they are so naturally. Do you not know that extinction levels today are at the mass-extinction level? As high or higher than during the saurian extinction event. This isn't something you can ignore and "let nature take care of."

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Species will go extinct, if they have not evolved/adapted sufficuantly.

Correct. But they will also go extinct when humans over-fish/hunt them, or destroy their habitat.

I am not saying we should go out of our way to kill them off, but i dont think we should go to silly lengths to save them.

The Panda for example, is an evolutionary dead end, it has no use, no purpose, it is fragile, inneficiant the only reason we invest so much effort into keeping it alive is because it looks cute.

Keystone species should be saved, the others are not so important in my opinion.

When you say the Panda bear "has no use, no purpose", you're taking an anthropomorphic world view. It's also the Biblical view, that every species has value only in its relationship with homo sapiens. Species by themselves have no intrinsic worth.

This is a narrow-minded, utilitarian view. Biodiversity is one the keys to a healthy planet.

The destruction of other species is like sawing off the tree branch you're sitting on.

You are correct though in prioritizing endangered keystone species (top predators), and by saving them, you are saving other species, whether they are important in your opinion or not.

http://www.well.com/~davidu/extinction.html

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Correct. But they will also go extinct when humans over-fish/hunt them, or destroy their habitat.

When you say the Panda bear "has no use, no purpose", you're taking an anthropomorphic world view. It's also the Biblical view, that every species has value only in its relationship with homo sapiens. Species by themselves have no intrinsic worth.

This is a narrow-minded, utilitarian view. Biodiversity is one the keys to a healthy planet.

The destruction of other species is like sawing off the tree branch you're sitting on.

You are correct though in prioritizing endangered keystone species (top predators), and by saving them, you are saving other species, whether they are important in your opinion or not.

http://www.well.com/~davidu/extinction.html

Very good post, great info, thanks.

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Posted (edited)

Correct. But they will also go extinct when humans over-fish/hunt them, or destroy their habitat.

You are correct though in prioritizing endangered keystone species (top predators), and by saving them, you are saving other species, whether they are important in your opinion or not.

The Tiger kills the deer, in some cases, the tiger may kill all the deer in a region. They have evolved superiour intelligence/ability and as a result may make another species extinct.

Humans have evolved to the point hwere we can make other species extinct, it may not be clever or advisable but its true. Anything we do is a natural process, there is no "natural world/Human world" divide.

Keystone species are not only top predators, in fact most are not top predators.

Bees.

Ants.

Worms.

Various Plants and Fungi.

A large range of bacteria and micro-organisms.

They are those species around which an ecosystem revolves. That, if removed would cause the system to fail or falter/change its make-up/function.

Regarding the video.

"Biodiverstiy has been stable for millions of years" - Not really thier have been numerous mass extinctions, look up "The Great Dying" life bounced back, with vigour. It always will, long after we as a speices are dust and echoes.

Edited by Wyrdlight

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Humans have evolved to the point hwere we can make other species extinct, it may not be clever or advisable but its true. Anything we do is a natural process, there is no "natural world/Human world" divide.

That's true in theory, but many insurance adjusters and politicians would argue that war is not a "natural disaster".

Keystone species are not only top predators, in fact most are not top predators.

They are those species around which an ecosystem revolves. That, if removed would cause the system to fail or falter/change its make-up/function.

Right, I used top predators because they are usually a good indicator of the health of an ecosystem.

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The Tiger kills the deer, in some cases, the tiger may kill all the deer in a region. They have evolved superiour intelligence/ability and as a result may make another species extinct.

Humans have evolved to the point hwere we can make other species extinct, it may not be clever or advisable but its true. Anything we do is a natural process, there is no "natural world/Human world" divide.

Keystone species are not only top predators, in fact most are not top predators.

Bees.

Ants.

Worms.

Various Plants and Fungi.

A large range of bacteria and micro-organisms.

They are those species around which an ecosystem revolves. That, if removed would cause the system to fail or falter/change its make-up/function.

That's a weak argument due to the fundamental nature of our technology. We've stepped outside any semblance of true natural selection. We have come to the point when we would be compete idiots, hardly worthy of "sentient" status, if we did not attempt to start bailing out the sinking ship that is our planet. This is MASS-EXTINCTION. We've stepped out for a while, but do you really think we're going to survive when species collapse globally (at least in any meaningful way)?

This is literally worse than the extinction of all the dinosaurs, which may have happened in a geological instant. Species are dying faster than that. And it IS because of us. It took millions of years for recovery after the saurian extinction event, and it still isn't "fully" recovered. Do you want for our children to go through that hell? Punishment by one lazy and self-centred generation that just didn't give a **** about anything or anyone else, including their descendants? That's a worse punishment by far than any we've ever seen. Millions of years of hardship and struggle. And it is quite likely if we change nothing. Even Dr. Hawking only gives us a hundred years if we don't do SOMETHING.

Is it intelligent behaviour to destroy natural capital in such a way? Hardly. We should be preserving it, with a goal of maintenence and true sustainability.

Letting it all die is the way to prove to nature that we were never worthy of our sentience in the first place. It's a very self-serving argument to say that we can do whatever we want to other species because that's the way its always been. We've risen above that; we're not so low. There comes a point in a developing intelligent species' life when it must rise above such original behaviour in order to manifest a far more wondrous and expansive destiny.

Even if you truly believe what you've said, we should still keep them around because they benefit us. They, their chemistry, their DNA, all is useful to us. Would you throw this away for convenience? Simply to avoid having to deal with the problem, because it is bothersome and morally turbulent?

If so, I don't see how you can claim to be any different from the hunting cat or the eagle. You're no better. You're the same. A pale imitation of what a truly practicing sentient could achieve. A lazy pre-sentient really, not knowing that he/she is slowly destroying their future, one species at a time, one collection of genetic resources at any moment wiped from the Earth, and not just for a while, forever. Never to come again, never to be seen, enjoyed, used, domesticated, taught, and, for some, perhaps to one day even be uplifted to a status similar to our own.

Would you see it the same way if you were a weaker species and had no way to survive against (just for example) advanced aliens from another planet who thought it great sport to travel here to hunt us as. Suppose you were pre-sentient, not yet as you are? Would you still value your existence and want to maintain and continue it? Would you be fine with the casual termination of your species? Afterall, that's the way it goes in nature you know. Some die, some live. Shouldn't that then apply to us?

Logically, it should, and it does. But we have DOMINATED the Earth. Simply reamed it. We are only in danger of extinction if we continue this abuse. The way to continue on is clear. It is difficult. We will struggle. But we must preserve our biosphere the same way we preserve ourselves. It is under threat directly (unlike us), and, indirectly, we are. That's the way of it. Preserving AS MANY other species as we CAN is self-preservation for our species at this moment

Edited by Druidus-Logos

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That's true in theory, but many insurance adjusters and politicians would argue that war is not a "natural disaster".

Exactly. The point is that we have reached a time when we know better than to foul our own beds or crap in the bathwater. Why do we still do it to our larger homes?

Quite right about top predators, too. Very important.

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That's a weak argument due to the fundamental nature of our technology. We've stepped outside any semblance of true natural selection. We have come to the point when we would be compete idiots, hardly worthy of "sentient" status, if we did not attempt to start bailing out the sinking ship that is our planet. This is MASS-EXTINCTION. We've stepped out for a while, but do you really think we're going to survive when species collapse globally (at least in any meaningful way)?

This is literally worse than the extinction of all the dinosaurs, which may have happened in a geological instant. Species are dying faster than that. And it IS because of us.

Is it intelligent behaviour to destroy natural capital in such a way? Hardly. We should be preserving it, with a goal of maintenence and true sustainability.

Letting it all die is the way to prove to nature that we were never worthy of our sentience in the first place. It's a very self-serving argument to say that we can do whatever we want to other species because that's the way its always been. We've risen above that; we're not so low. There comes a point in a developing intelligent species' life when it must rise above such original behaviour in order to manifest a far more wondrous and expansive destiny.

Even if you truly believe what you've said, we should still keep them around because they benefit us. They, their chemistry, their DNA, all is useful to us. Would you throw this away for convenience? Simply to avoid having to deal with the problem, because it is bothersome and morally turbulent?

If so, I don't see how you can claim to be any different from the hunting cat or the eagle. You're no better. You're the same. A pale imitation of what a truly practicing sentient could achieve. A lazy pre-sentient really, not knowing that he/she is slowly destroying their future, one species at a time, one collection of genetic resources at any moment wiped from the Earth, and not just for a while, forever. Never to come again, never to be seen, enjoyed, used, domesticated, taught, and, for some, perhaps to one day even be uplifted to a status similar to our own.

Would you see it the same way if you were a weaker species and had no way to survive against (just for example) advanced aliens from another planet who thought it great sport to travel here to hunt us as. Suppose you were pre-sentient, not yet as you are? Would you still value your existence and want to maintain and continue it? Would you be fine with the casual termination of your species? Afterall, that's the way it goes in nature you know. Some die, some live. Shouldn't that then apply to us?

Logically, it should, and it does. But we have DOMINATED the Earth. Simply reamed it. We are only in danger of extinction if we continue this abuse. The way to continue on is clear. It is difficult. We will struggle. But we must preserve our biosphere the same way we preserve ourselves. It is under threat directly (unlike us), and, indirectly, we are. That's the way of it. Preserving AS MANY other species as we CAN is self-preservation for our species at this moment

But preserving things in a snap shot of a certain time/place you are not adhering to "natural proccessess".

The world changes, it moves, speices die and evolve and change, you cant just say "STOP!" we will save them all, or even some of them, its like keeping a brain dead person alive, centruies after they are, to all intents a purposes dead. The world would become a giant museum with hundreds of preserved species. The world is not a museum, its the world.

I dont think its a bad theory, we have evolved to use our surroundings (technology) thus anything we do is a natraul process, simple. Technology is merely a facet of our evolution.

If we as a speices get wiped out by our own stupidity then we deserve it, i am NOT saying that we should purge the earth of all non-human species just that extinction is inevitable and you CANT stop it, and in some cases, its a waste of effort and resources to try.

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But preserving things in a snap shot of a certain time/place you are not adhering to "natural proccessess".

The world changes, it moves, speices die and evolve and change, you cant just say "STOP!" we will save them all, or even some of them, its like keeping a brain dead person alive, centruies after they are, to all intents a purposes dead. The world would become a giant museum with hundreds of preserved species. The world is not a museum, its the world.

Quite right. Butare you arguing that we haven't grossl inflated the background extinction rate, beyond anything sensible? I'm not advocating save all species. I think we should attempt to save as many as possible from OUR influence though. Let nature do it's thing, let's stop pilfering from her and stick with what we've taken already. We've got to quit sometime. Earth IS finite. It cannot last forever.

I dont think its a bad theory, we have evolved to use our surroundings (technology) thus anything we do is a natraul process, simple. Technology is merely a facet of our evolution.

True, you're right. But you see, we've done more than extend our feral selves. We've built moral and ethical ground. Ground that actually promotes our future meaningful existence.

If we as a speices get wiped out by our own stupidity then we deserve it, i am NOT saying that we should purge the earth of all non-human species just that extinction is inevitable and you CANT stop it, and in some cases, its a waste of effort and resources to try.

I can partially agree. You say that we would deserve it. And I agree. But don't you think, then, that we should try to curtail our ignorance? Not be so willful and thus stupid with it? Shouldn't we preserve what we might need?

If we determine a species would go extinct even without us, or with a mere tribal simulated version of us, fine, let it go. If WE are destroying it, we should try to mitigate this. The point is that the universe is not made for us. We survive out of luck; chance and evolution. We should do everything we can to stack the odds in our favour, don't you agree?

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Quite right. Butare you arguing that we haven't grossl inflated the background extinction rate, beyond anything sensible? I'm not advocating save all species. I think we should attempt to save as many as possible from OUR influence though. Let nature do it's thing, let's stop pilfering from her and stick with what we've taken already. We've got to quit sometime. Earth IS finite. It cannot last forever.

True, you're right. But you see, we've done more than extend our feral selves. We've built moral and ethical ground. Ground that actually promotes our future meaningful existence.

I can partially agree. You say that we would deserve it. And I agree. But don't you think, then, that we should try to curtail our ignorance? Not be so willful and thus stupid with it? Shouldn't we preserve what we might need?

If we determine a species would go extinct even without us, or with a mere tribal simulated version of us, fine, let it go. If WE are destroying it, we should try to mitigate this. The point is that the universe is not made for us. We survive out of luck; chance and evolution. We should do everything we can to stack the odds in our favour, don't you agree?

I think prehaps I am a little too cold and logical regarding extinction etc, i dont see any differeance between a world of forests and oceans and teeming life and a world of radioactive wastes dotted with the burnt out shells of cities, with rats a roaches being the main speices.

Both are the same, both are alive the only differance is the general environment and the number of species.

People look at things with views clouded with emotion, they personify the earth/nature as you have, they save or priorotise saving certain speices based on how cute they instead of how useful/important they are, they use colourful words like "Rape" of natural resources "Slaughter" of certain species. Its surperflous and pointless. We are the dominant species, and can do as we please, it may be another species comes from outer space and takes that power away, but until they do, we make the choices. Ignorance is a basic state that everyone exists in, everyone is ignorant about somthing, and most of the things "we might need" we will preserve.

The Panda, we dont need, the Tiger, we dont need, the Bottle-nose we dont need etc etc.

Nesescity is the mother of invention, thus if we need it, we will find a way to keep it.

Hell in 20 years we will be able to clone/grow extinct animals from thier DNA, extinction would not then matter one IOTA, we could simple raise them again and again.

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I think prehaps I am a little too cold and logical regarding extinction etc, i dont see any differeance between a world of forests and oceans and teeming life and a world of radioactive wastes dotted with the burnt out shells of cities, with rats a roaches being the main speices.

So you would be ok with a nuclear holocaust? Can I ask how old you are?

People look at things with views clouded with emotion, they personify the earth/nature as you have, they save or priorotise saving certain speices based on how cute they instead of how useful/important they are, they use colourful words like "Rape" of natural resources "Slaughter" of certain species.

I wondered how it would take before someone accused me of being emotional/sentimental. This not an aesthetic argument ( I like apples, Bob likes grapes), in which there is in fact nothing to argue. This is a philosophical moral argument.

Its surperflous and pointless. We are the dominant species, and can do as we please, it may be another species comes from outer space and takes that power away, but until they do, we make the choices.

So Might makes Right? If that's the case, then why did so many people over the millennium rise up and fight against tyranny? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta

And God help you if more powerful aliens land and start harvesting humans for food, because you will have no moral argument against it.

Ignorance is a basic state that everyone exists in, everyone is ignorant about somthing, and most of the things "we might need" we will preserve.

Doubtful. We have no idea how many undiscovered species might exist in the Amazon that may hold a cure for cancer.

The Panda, we dont need, the Tiger, we dont need, the Bottle-nose we dont need etc etc.

These beings all play a role in their environments. Their demise will surely have some effects.

Nesescity is the mother of invention, thus if we need it, we will find a way to keep it.

Hell in 20 years we will be able to clone/grow extinct animals from thier DNA, extinction would not then matter one IOTA, we could simple raise them again and again.

Yeah, Technology will save the planet. Sure it will, just look at all the ways in which it has benefited the planet.

/sarcasm off

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So you would be ok with a nuclear holocaust? Can I ask how old you are?

I wondered how it would take before someone accused me of being emotional/sentimental. This not an aesthetic argument ( I like apples, Bob likes grapes), in which there is in fact nothing to argue. This is a philosophical moral argument.

So Might makes Right? If that's the case, then why did so many people over the millennium rise up and fight against tyranny? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta

And God help you if more powerful aliens land and start harvesting humans for food, because you will have no moral argument against it.

Doubtful. We have no idea how many undiscovered species might exist in the Amazon that may hold a cure for cancer.

These beings all play a role in their environments. Their demise will surely have some effects.

Yeah, Technology will save the planet. Sure it will, just look at all the ways in which it has benefited the planet.

/sarcasm off

Great post, you said a lot of what I wanted to. I'll post a reply in the morning.

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So you would be ok with a nuclear holocaust? Can I ask how old you are?

I wondered how it would take before someone accused me of being emotional/sentimental. This not an aesthetic argument ( I like apples, Bob likes grapes), in which there is in fact nothing to argue. This is a philosophical moral argument.

So Might makes Right? If that's the case, then why did so many people over the millennium rise up and fight against tyranny? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Carta

And God help you if more powerful aliens land and start harvesting humans for food, because you will have no moral argument against it.

Doubtful. We have no idea how many undiscovered species might exist in the Amazon that may hold a cure for cancer.

These beings all play a role in their environments. Their demise will surely have some effects.

Yeah, Technology will save the planet. Sure it will, just look at all the ways in which it has benefited the planet.

/sarcasm off

1. I did not say I was advocating such a world, merely that, from a bio-diversity and logical view-point they are almost exactly the same, both environments with species in them, neither is more valuable than the other, the are just differant.

2. I am arguing that morals have little if anything to do with it, some people say we should save all the species, i say we should only fight the battles we can win and save those species we need to save to retain ecosystem stability and help us in the future that is my arguemant, i see it as simple maths.

3. We are the dominant species, we have the poetential to do as we please the very fact we have evolved to become the dominant species proves this. I am not saying that might is right, only that it is in our nature to control our environment. Is the termite evil for eating the home you live in? It has evolved to do so, to control and shape its environment as we have done.

4. You misudertand, if it goes extinct before we reach it, then we never knew about it and thus did not have the oppertunity to save it. Thats like saying "I did not turn right at the cross-roads, and thus did not meet the man who would have given me a Million pounds, i turned left instead and now i have missed that chance", we will find a way with waht we have access to, or we will go extinct.

5. The demise of such animals would have very little effect, Panda, eats fast growing plant matter, if its not thier..... you get a few more plants. Tiger eats some deer and cows, its not thier then.... you get more deer roaming around for us/another predator to eat etc etc. They are not keystone species, in terms of ecosystem function, they matter very little.

6.Benifited the plannet? once again the plannet is being deemed a thing akin to a person, it is not, in a million years we will have left this earth or be extinct and the earth will live on. Short of crashing it into mars or blowing it apart, there is almost nothing we could do to "damage" it in any permenant way. All the changes we have wrought are a speck in the ocean, a blink in the Earths life. There have been mass extinction events in past and will be more in the future, somthing will survive, and life will begin anew.

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1. I did not say I was advocating such a world, merely that, from a bio-diversity and logical view-point they are almost exactly the same,

How can the rich biodiversity (that we still have left) be compared to a post-apocalyptic planet?

both environments with species in them, neither is more valuable than the other, the are just differant.

One is rich in biodiversity, the other is a monoculture of cockroaches.

2. I am arguing that morals have little if anything to do with it,

It's a moral question of whether our species should treat everything on the planet as ours to consume, and in the process, degrading the ecosphere.

some people say we should save all the species, i say we should only fight the battles we can win and save those species we need to save to retain ecosystem stability and help us in the future that is my arguemant, i see it as simple maths.

Some species go extinct naturally, most though are heading to extinction from human interference. I know, you're going to say now that man is an animal, therefore everything mankind does is natural. I don't buy that, neither do most philosophers. Man is the only moral agent on the planet. In that respect we stand outside of nature.

3. We are the dominant species, we have the poetential to do as we please the very fact we have evolved to become the dominant species proves this. I am not saying that might is right, only that it is in our nature to control our environment. Is the termite evil for eating the home you live in? It has evolved to do so, to control and shape its environment as we have done.

Termites are not moral agents, see above.

4. You misudertand, if it goes extinct before we reach it, then we never knew about it and thus did not have the oppertunity to save it. Thats like saying "I did not turn right at the cross-roads, and thus did not meet the man who would have given me a Million pounds, i turned left instead and now i have missed that chance", we will find a way with waht we have access to, or we will go extinct.

But what we have access to to is shrinking daily. "a distinct species of plant or animal becomes extinct every 20 minutes." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020109074801.htm

5. The demise of such animals would have very little effect, Panda, eats fast growing plant matter, if its not thier..... you get a few more plants. Tiger eats some deer and cows, its not thier then.... you get more deer roaming around for us/another predator to eat etc etc. They are not keystone species, in terms of ecosystem function, they matter very little.

Pandas played a distinct role in Chinese culture, and still do, being used to promote the 2008 Olympics. http://www.giantpandaonline.org/naturalhistory/lore.htm

Tigers also played an important cultural role, and the extinction of both species would be a distinct loss. Even if you discount human culture, both species have intrinsic value, in that they are sentient beings.

6.Benifited the plannet? once again the plannet is being deemed a thing akin to a person, it is not,

Again, more accusations of sentiment/emotion/anthropomorphizing. This is simply not the case. I am not attributing any human traits to the planet, or other species.

in a million years we will have left this earth or be extinct and the earth will live on. Short of crashing it into mars or blowing it apart, there is almost nothing we could do to "damage" it in any permenant way. All the changes we have wrought are a speck in the ocean, a blink in the Earths life.

Technology has dissolved a hole in the ozone layer. Thanks to Carl Sagan and others, CFC's are now banned, and the hole is slowly closing. That's just one example. If you don't think mankind has had an effect on the planet, you haven't been paying attention.

Watch it and weep.

Edited by redhen

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The essential point been missed in this discussion is that we are incapable of determing what is a KeyStone species. The web of life is so interconnected that we cannot predict the outcomes of losing parts. On a purely utilitarian basis every species which is lost makes our own extinction more likely. Coupled to that is the fact that every species loss represents a diminuation of the quality of life we can experience.

That is the utilitarian argument.

The Ethical/abstract argument says that simply been the top trophic element of a pyramid doesn't make us a superior form of life and ethically we have a responsibility not to place our own desires above the needs of other species. To conduct ourselves in that way makes us nothing better than a plague which will run its course with our species fading out. Within our own ethical framework, to allow the death of billions of our fellow humans/creatures is nothing short or monsterous and just plain stupid. Surely we should hold ourselves to higher standards than that.

We are no longer subject to natural checks and balances which would have kept our numbers in check, and so the evolution of intelligence presents us with a responsibility to anticipate the outcomes and avoid the worst of them. If we are not able to do so then I feel it would be best for life on this planet if we wiped ourselves out and left room for an instinctive natural balance to reestablish, or for a truely intelligent/wise species to take our place.

If you are a person of belief then I think we have failed Gods injunction to be stewards of the earth and the creatures on it, and God will judge us very harshly for our failure.

Br Cornelius

Edited by Br Cornelius

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The essential point been missed in this discussion is that we are incapable of determing what is a KeyStone species. The web of life is so interconnected that we cannot predict the outcomes of losing parts.

Yes, interconnectedness, or as Buddhists would call it; dependent origination, is the key.

On a purely utilitarian basis every species which is lost makes our own extinction more likely. Coupled to that is the fact that every species loss represents a diminuation of the quality of life we can experience.

That is the utilitarian argument.

Yup.

The Ethical/abstract argument says that simply been the top trophic element of a pyramid doesn't make us a superior form of life

That's one moral argument, and a good one I think.

and ethically we have a responsibility not to place our own desires above the needs of other species.

Here you're in murkier water. You would rather not brush your teeth, in order to spare the lives of thousands of micro-organisms?

To conduct ourselves in that way makes us nothing better than a plague which will run its course with our species fading out. Within our own ethical framework, to allow the death of billions of our fellow humans/creatures is nothing short or monsterous and just plain stupid. Surely we should hold ourselves to higher standards than that.

If you're talking about the current mass extinction, I agree.

We are no longer subject to natural checks and balances which would have kept our numbers in check,

Yes, Malthusians traps, like famine, disease, natural disasters. Careful not to let yourself be labeled a social evolutionist/eugenicist/racist. But, I think one can argue that the removal of these "traps" has allowed for the exponential human population we now see.

and so the evolution of intelligence presents us with a responsibility to anticipate the outcomes and avoid the worst of them.

There are other intelligent animals, so I think a sense of responsibility comes from empathic consciousness, something that we see in other apes (which our headed to extinction).

If we are not able to do so then I feel it would be best for life on this planet if we wiped ourselves out and left room for an instinctive natural balance to reestablish, or for a truely intelligent/wise species to take our place.

I agree with the economist Jeremy Rifkin http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/only-empathy-can-save-us_b_447685.html in that we need to redefine "progress", and work towards an Empathic Civilization.

If you are a person of belief then I think we have failed Gods injunction to be stewards of the earth and the creatures on it, and God will judge us very harshly for our failure.

Br Cornelius

If you are a theist though who also agrees with macro-evolution, then you have to ask; did all the species prior to homo sapiens not need Man's stewardship? I think human morality is not divine, but rather an extension of the moral jugements in other apes, and previous hominids. Nevertheless, if theists believe that we have a divine commandment to be stewards, than they will have to take a hard look at their activities and behaviour that aid and cause exponential human population growth.

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If you are a theist though who also agrees with macro-evolution, then you have to ask; did all the species prior to homo sapiens not need Man's stewardship? I think human morality is not divine, but rather an extension of the moral jugements in other apes, and previous hominids. Nevertheless, if theists believe that we have a divine commandment to be stewards, than they will have to take a hard look at their activities and behaviour that aid and cause exponential human population growth.

I would not consider this a position worth arguing from, but I presented it simply as a point appropriate to those of a theistic outlook.

All belief systems should hang their heads in shame at the state we have got ourselves into.

Br Cornelius

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