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The blind spot. .  .  musings
Posted: 04 February 2011 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This sprang from my discussion over at SkepticForum I thought I’d post it here to see if anyone has any thoughts to add:


Seems to me, too much of people’s thinking and believing is predicated on a faith that anything is possible… that endless growth and consumption is a condition of life.  Despite the fact that nothing in nature reflects such a dynamic. 

Thanks to our self made ego fulfilling God’s we allow ourselves to disconnect from all that real planet grittiness.

Why this irresistible school of thought that endless growth is possible?  It seems like their whole existence depends on it… thus they can’t visualize anything that interferes with that faith.

Even though all the world news, political and ecological paints a very serious situation brewing out there in the real physical world, they solve the problems by ignoring that they exist.  Then get insulted when others “attack” their beliefs with real science.

I believe if one can’t connect with evolution and our planet being a growing changing being - one can’t connect with science or the physical reality of climate science and Earth observations.
~~~~~~~~~~

{yea, philosophical had nothing to do with it. just musings}

[ Edited: 14 February 2011 11:34 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 04 February 2011 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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CC, I find it very difficult to make any sense of this. Sorry. Not sure why it is, but I often find people who claim to be “speaking philosophically” sounding as if they were high. It’s very annoying.

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Posted: 04 February 2011 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 04 February 2011 11:24 AM

that endless growth and consumption is a condition of life.  Despite the fact that nothing in nature reflects such a dynamic. 

You don’t think that 2 billion years of non-stop evolution resulting in greater and greater complexity reflects such a dynamic?

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Posted: 04 February 2011 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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brightfut - 04 February 2011 05:11 PM
citizenschallenge.pm - 04 February 2011 11:24 AM

that endless growth and consumption is a condition of life.  Despite the fact that nothing in nature reflects such a dynamic. 

You don’t think that 2 billion years of non-stop evolution resulting in greater and greater complexity reflects such a dynamic?

Oh man that is really beautiful because I honestly took out a sentence reflecting that exact singular exception - that being the totality of processes - which appear to buck the trend, but that is only because that pageant works on an unimaginably long time scale, that most people refuse to appreciate.

I am very much aware of the incredible pageant of cumulative harmonic poetry cascading down the flow of time ~ you know: evolution.
The pageant that has created this incredible biosphere that has sustained humanity for hundreds of thousands of years.

But, that reality does not negate that humanity’s progress has been founded on the extraction and consumption of resources that took millions and billions of years to produce. 

Nor that society continues to batter the hell out of the planet that supplies it’s one and only life support system.

Nor that species rise and fall while the grander pageant of Life on Earth continues.

Nor that Earth is a finite resource!

George - 04 February 2011 11:48 AM

CC, I find it very difficult to make any sense of this. Sorry. Not sure why it is, but I often find people who claim to be “speaking philosophically” sounding as if they were high. It’s very annoying.

citizenschallenge.pm - 04 February 2011 11:24 AM

Thanks to our self made ego fulfilling God’s we allow ourselves to disconnect from all that real planet grittiness.

Why this irresistible school of thought that endless growth is possible?  It seems like their whole existence depends on it… thus they can’t visualize anything that interferes with that faith.

Even though all the world news, political and ecological paints a very serious situation brewing out there in the real physical world, they solve the problems by ignoring that they exist.  Then get insulted when others “attack” their beliefs with real science.

Well OK and since when hasn’t a little wine or beer helped philosophy along?  But, let me try to explain this.

“Thanks to our self made ego fulfilling God’s we allow ourselves to disconnect from all that real planet grittiness.”
equals - the Republican right wing embrace of Creationism, dogmatic religious tenets and AGW denialism.

“Why this irresistible school of thought that endless growth is possible?”
equals - Reaganomic and the right wing’s continued faith in its validity.

“It seems like their whole existence depends on it… thus they can’t visualize anything that interferes with that faith.”
equals - the crap that right wing think tanks such as Marshall Institute, SPPI, Heartland put out.  Devoid of serious science, instead focused on PR manipulation to win their case that Reaganomics and NewAmericanCentury make sense for the future.

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Posted: 05 February 2011 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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IMO, man is the only species which uses enormous amounts of resources which far exceed our contribution to the natural cycle of life on earth. except perhaps when we die and disintegrate. We are a “virus” killing our host.
As I understand CC, this callous disregard for “natural law” stems from our arrogance in believing that man has a special god given right to exercise “dominion” over the earth and its other inhabitants.

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Posted: 05 February 2011 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Yea, that works for me W4U.

The thing I’ve been wrestling with here is the mentality that the Malthusian theory is total hogwash and that Reaganomics has somehow broken the shackles of limits.  People point out the great strides made in the past hundred years, and indeed there have been many, as proof that this run will continue.  Then fail to acknowledge all the down sides that have also been accumulating, habitat destruction, population explosion, concentration of teaming masses in crowded ill planned cities.  Urban spread on top of previous landscapes.  etc.  etc.

The biosphere is being damaged and whittled away at astounding rates and people laugh at it.

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Posted: 05 February 2011 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Write4U - 05 February 2011 02:55 AM

IMO, man is the only species which uses enormous amounts of resources which far exceed our contribution to the natural cycle of life on earth. except perhaps when we die and disintegrate. We are a “virus” killing our host.

This seems to be a moral judgment on mankind from the point of view of Nature if Nature was able to pass moral judgment on us.  I’m not criticizing you for using this perspective.  I think it has value.  However, it needs to be thought out.  CC has raised many legitimate criticisms of excessive, unintelligent, and possibly “immoral” uses of nature by humans.  But how far should this criticism go?  This is a huge can of worms to sort out.  For instance, I don’t see the huge increase in the population of humans to be necessarily anti-nature.  Humans are part of nature.  If humans prosper then nature prospers.  Maybe we should appreciate diversity more.  I don’t know where to draw the line.  How many humans in proportion with other animals on the Earth is the “morally correct” balance?  The strongest “moral” criticism of humanity seems to be the way that we destroy other animals and habitats for our own benefit.  Humans didn’t invent this system.  Animals have been living off of other animals and plants for billions of years.  This system has been part of nature.  Symbiotic, cooperative systems have also been part of nature.  Humans have the potential with their big brains to move to a more symbiotic system where they no longer need to consume other animals for survival.  Apple trees, wheat, and dogs already have a symbiotic relationship with humans.

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Posted: 05 February 2011 06:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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brightfut - 05 February 2011 04:03 PM
Write4U - 05 February 2011 02:55 AM

IMO, man is the only species which uses enormous amounts of resources which far exceed our contribution to the natural cycle of life on earth. except perhaps when we die and disintegrate. We are a “virus” killing our host.

This seems to be a moral judgment on mankind from the point of view of Nature if Nature was able to pass moral judgment on us.  I’m not criticizing you for using this perspective.  I think it has value.  However, it needs to be thought out.  CC has raised many legitimate criticisms of excessive, unintelligent, and possibly “immoral” uses of nature by humans.  But how far should this criticism go?  This is a huge can of worms to sort out.  For instance, I don’t see the huge increase in the population of humans to be necessarily anti-nature.  Humans are part of nature.  If humans prosper then nature prospers.  Maybe we should appreciate diversity more.  I don’t know where to draw the line.  How many humans in proportion with other animals on the Earth is the “morally correct” balance?  The strongest “moral” criticism of humanity seems to be the way that we destroy other animals and habitats for our own benefit.  Humans didn’t invent this system.  Animals have been living off of other animals and plants for billions of years.  This system has been part of nature.  Symbiotic, cooperative systems have also been part of nature.  Humans have the potential with their big brains to move to a more symbiotic system where they no longer need to consume other animals for survival.  Apple trees, wheat, and dogs already have a symbiotic relationship with humans.

I agree with everything you say. But I also believe that our concept of symbiosis is only superficial and fails to take into account the harm we do on a global scale.

Let me try our symbiosis with “wheat” as an example of creating unintended consequences.
It is now thought that most “air pollution” is caused by agriculture. Clearing of forests (lungs of the world) to make room for wheatfields, DDT (outlawed in the US but not in many other countries) which not only killed pests but every other benign organisms in the soil, chemical fertilizers (some now known to cause cancer and other harmful side effects) leaching into our acquifers and killing fish and other life in rivers and lakes, preservatives (some now known to be harmful), packaging in paper (involving cutting down more trees), or plastic bags (which do not break down for centuries), transportation over hundreds, if not thousands of miles by truck or rail (more pollution and destruction of natural habitat). Then turning this flour into doughnuts and pastries which play havoc with our bodies just because we like sweet things. I think the proof lies in the fact that we now pay 3.50 for a loaf of bread which has a natural value of .01

IMO, the problem is that we use our natural resources in such a wanton way and that the effects of our excesses are not localized as is usual in nature, but our impact is global. Yet we ignore the telltale warnings and write them off as being alarmist. The earth is a finite place and may be considered the host body of all living things thereon. And there is only one earth, it’s all we got. When we destroy the natural cycle which took millions of years to perfect itself in a very short time, we can expect this natural cycle to “modify” itself (as it has in the past), usually with dire consequences to most larger living creatures on earth. Thus both my dog and I will perish together, because we failed to look at the “bigger picture”.

[ Edited: 05 February 2011 06:54 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 05 February 2011 07:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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“Thanks to our self made ego fulfilling God’s we allow ourselves to disconnect from all that real planet grittiness.”
equals - the Republican right wing embrace of Creationism, dogmatic religious tenets and AGW denialism.

“Why this irresistible school of thought that endless growth is possible?”
equals - Reaganomic and the right wing’s continued faith in its validity.

“It seems like their whole existence depends on it… thus they can’t visualize anything that interferes with that faith.”
equals - the crap that right wing think tanks such as Marshall Institute, SPPI, Heartland put out.  Devoid of serious science, instead focused on PR manipulation to win their case that Reaganomics and NewAmericanCentury make sense for the future.

You can blame it all on Dr. Smiley’s self-help philosophy, which has fostered a belief in the infinity of human potential, failing to reckon that progress can be progressive as well as retrogressive - especially when care is not taken to improve the superstructure upon which human society is based. This very same craze is behind the pervert optimism that inspires the neo-liberal creed (almost religious in its blindness) that has continued to plunge the American economy into recession.

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Posted: 06 February 2011 01:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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It seems to me that an under examined idea in discussions of Sustainability vs. Consumption is Transformation.  Is anything really ever consumed?  I don’t know anything about quantum theory, so maybe it doesn’t hold true in all cases, but on a macro level nothing really goes away.  It seems easy to say that what we think of as our consumption oriented technology and lifestyle isn’t sustainable, but we’re making an assumption that waste is useless and not just another form of the original resources.  Without much effort I can think of several instances where what were waste products are now recognized as having great value. (Some farms are powered by capturing the methane generated and using it to make their electricity or heat.)  I suppose the amount of usable energy in the universe might be finite but then do we know that it wouldn’t be possible to find ways to manipulate forms of energy that is in what is considered useless forms.  (by simple example, in my old truck braking energy is wasted as heat, but in a new vehicle it is stored as electricity) 

I think we find the idea of a Doomsday irresistible in some bleak part of our minds, maybe because we surely face our own personal demise and misery loves company, but the assumption that it’s right around the corner is a really enervating viewpoint.  Even if it’s true it doesn’t help us live the good life.  Of course this is coming from a guy who barely made it through high school and who thinks that the sanest thing to do, if both wings fell off the airplane I’m in would be to turn to my seatmate and tell them them funniest joke I know.

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Posted: 07 February 2011 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Jeciron - 06 February 2011 01:05 PM

Is anything really ever consumed?  I don’t know anything about quantum theory, so maybe it doesn’t hold true in all cases, but on a macro level nothing really goes away. 

When we are talking about natural biota that have taken millions of years, or thousands of years to develop and we come in to strip mine it away to get at the minerals hiding under the soil - that biota and the ecosystem it supported is destroyed and gone.

When biologically productive estuaries are filled in and built upon, they are gone along with all the resources they produced.

Top soil washed into the ocean may make a beautiful new field in a few hundred millions years, but what good does that do us?

As for recycling as a salvation ~ look at the underbelly of that critter and it is truly sad.

and on and on.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Of course, our planet’s biosphere is the product of countless recycling schemes so with a little less greed a little more foresight all sorts of things are possible. 
For an excellent example of the possibilities check out Joe Salatin at Poly Face Farms ~ http://www.polyfacefarms.com/talk.aspx.

But, all those fixes lie outside the Republican Reaganomics Greed is Good paradigm.

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Posted: 07 February 2011 02:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Jeciron - 06 February 2011 01:05 PM

It seems to me that an under examined idea in discussions of Sustainability vs. Consumption is Transformation.

Oh yea, the other factor in all this is that our planet is a finite place.

I’ve heard this story that Einstein was once asked: What is the greatest force in the universe?
His reply was: Compounding Interest.

Just because it was possible with 2 or 3 billion people on this planet, doesn’t mean it is possible 7 or 8 billion.

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Posted: 08 February 2011 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 07 February 2011 02:29 PM
Jeciron - 06 February 2011 01:05 PM

It seems to me that an under examined idea in discussions of Sustainability vs. Consumption is Transformation.

Oh yea, the other factor in all this is that our planet is a finite place.

I’ve heard this story that Einstein was once asked: What is the greatest force in the universe?
His reply was: Compounding Interest.

Just because it was possible with 2 or 3 billion people on this planet, doesn’t mean it is possible 7 or 8 billion.

An update on man’s consumption of natural resources.

http://www.worldometers.info/

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Posted: 08 February 2011 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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author=“citizenschallenge.pm” date=“1297132156

Oh yea, the other factor in all this is that our planet is a finite place.

I’ve heard this story that Einstein was once asked: What is the greatest force in the universe?
His reply was: Compounding Interest.

Just because it was possible with 2 or 3 billion people on this planet, doesn’t mean it is possible 7 or 8 billion.

“Compound interest” is a function of exponential growth.
A great lecture by Professor Bartlett, explaining the results of exponential growth (still valid today), below.

http://www.albartlett.org/presentations/arithmetic_population_energy_video1.html

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Posted: 08 February 2011 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I don’t know if, on a genetic level, I even got a dog in this fight.  I’m well into middle age with no children so I’ve probably committed genetic suicide.  On a selfish gene level I’m already a dead end.  On a more human level, I think there’s a good chance the pessimists are right, but even accepting that the wings may well have already fallen off the airplane, it’s a lot more fun to be engaged and tinkering with it.  I mean, if all’s lost, what’s there to lose in even a futile search for solutions.  It’s not like things are coming apart so fast that I won’t be awful tired of having my head between my legs, kissing my ass goodbye when we hit.  Give me a good reason why dogged optimism is any less constructive than utter despair.  One of my many half-assed ideas is I might as well act like I’m alive until I’m dead. 

I know, no data, no science, just woo woo.

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Posted: 08 February 2011 05:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Write4U - 08 February 2011 12:41 PM

An update on man’s consumption of natural resources.

http://www.worldometers.info/

I wonder how much of the loss of species to extinction has to do with the Amazon rain forest.  The Amazon rain forest has such diversity that to destroy that forest is going to result in huge losses of species.  I don’t feel as an American citizen I have much say in what goes on down there.  The topsoil loss probably also comes from there.  I don’t see farmers where I live (Indiana) letting their topsoil wash away.  Now they are using no till farming which leaves the root systems of the previous year’s crop to hold the topsoil in place.  Also, Indiana is pretty flat where farming is done.  I don’t hear about fertilizers poisoning rivers around here either.  Most of the river pollution around here is from 40 years ago when PCB s and lead where used in metal foundries.  One company, here, that used to use those had to do a clean up which cost the factory about 10 million dollars even though the chemicals have not been used for 30 to 40 years.

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