Disappointment about our own species

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Mark UX, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. Mark UX Registered Member

    For years, I had and still have this strange feeling of dissapointment about our own human specie; and actually felling shameful about our collective actions.

    I had two mind-opening moments in my life, regarding this issue: one being at the top of a mountain, one being at the top of a human-made concrete building, in a big city. My thoughts when being at the top of the mountain were pure admiration; and I clearly remember my first thought when I was at the top of the building: "What have we done....", was a very, very sad and profund feeling.

    From politics, to machiavellian economy systems, to our insatiable appetite for having and devouring everything, the false "happiness" most people are experiencing, the completely lack of respect for Nature... the list seems to go without an end.

    But every time, I am into nature and see an old tree, a beautiful animal, the sound of a river.... it simply completes me.... my soul seems to trigger this thinking of "this is what I am".

    What a perfected gift was given to us... and, the same way a virus behaves, we keep reproducing ourselves without control, damaging our own natural environment, and without seeing it, helping in our own extinction in the future: no other specie have developed such a self-destroying pattern like humans did.

    My thinkings about it went very profund, and lead me to the conclusion that we are the most sophisticated and intelligent form of a virus on Earth. We were not like that in ancient times, it is just that we have evolved into that. And exactly as a virus behaves, we keep looking for other places to depredate, which today we call expo-planets.

    One day, I discovered that my thoughts were in concordance with a school of ancient philosophy called "Cynicism":


    Perhaps my idealism about how we should live is too much for current times, and I am here at the risk of sounding quite childish for many people. I have never met someone in person who shared this way of thinking with me, so I just want to know your thoughts/opinions about it.
    danshawen likes this.
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  3. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Sorry, but that's not profound, it's just a mediocre pseudophilosophy you got from The Matrix. Which is ironic, because you are using a product of human technology to cite a big-budget Hollywood movie to complain about human development...and using false nostalgia (yes, humans were destructive in ancient times) and naturalistic fallacies (humans have a long, long way to go to be in league with other destroyers of the environment) to boot.

    If luddites would just follow their own philosophy, we'd never have to hear about them!
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  5. Mark UX Registered Member

    I have to disagree.

    1) I was not citing any movie. Nor it came to my mind any movie when reflecting about it, those thoughts came from me, from inside.

    2) So given your argument, since all of us use a 'product of human technology' to communicate world-wide (internet), we would always fall into 'irony' when complaining about our own way of developing. No, that makes no sense. We should be able to critic ourselves and seriously analyse the way we coexist with the planet, that was the original intention of the post.

    In any case, this has nothing to do with any movie... are feelings that comes when I compare our own creation vs nature's creation, and the way (I believe) we act as a virus, regarding the our own environment.
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  7. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    We do not act like a virus, we act like a Eukaryotes.
    We have not come close to the destruction of the environment that bacteria have done. They completely altered the early earths atmosphere by polluting it with so much poisonous oxygen that it killed off the majority of the dominant life on this planet (anaerobes).

    I don't disagree that the altering of the earth by man is not the best thing going (at all!) but lets not go overboard.
  8. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Welcome to Sciforums, Mark UX.

    I prefer "cancer" instead of "virus" as the analogy. Yes, it is sad that "growth" instead of "sustainability" is the modern virtue /goal. As many have observed, continued growth of material wealth or populations on a finite planet is, in the long run, impossible.

    Humans, at present, are a cancer on the biosphere. Whether or not this cancer can be controlled is still an open question. Encouraging is the fact that birth rates in advanced societies are with few exceptions less than replacement rates, but despite this, these advanced society disproportionally consume irreplaceable natural resources, especially petroleum, and make most of the global pollution of Earth that grows worse each year.

    There are many (at least 24) positive feed back interactions that accelerate the direct effects of man's climate change. One of the most obvious is as ice floating on the Arctic Oeans melts the albedo changes from about 0.9 to about o.3 or less, (tripling the local absorption of sun light.) Another is the increasing extent of large forest fires - Their soot falling on snow and ice on land do the same.

    Physical systems with positive feed back always saturate; have their growth terminated. The current "cancer on the biosphere" is no exception. Conditions in the saturated state are always quite different than when continued growth appeared to be fore ever sustainable (to the ignorant). Generally speaking there are two distinct modes for the saturated state: (1) higher, but sustainable, level of activity OR (2) complete collapse.

    As an example of (1) consider a CD feeding signals corresponding composed music into an audio amplifier, which also has the out put of a microphone as part of its input. Perhaps that microphone was mixing a choir's singing with the recorded music. What may have been an enjoyable musical production, can turn into a disturbing whistle if the loop gain becomes unity at any point during the performance.

    As an example of (2) consider a steam engine, doing useful work, but also driving a small pump that supplies the boiler's fuel. The amount of useful work will increase for a while as the steam pressure rises, but then collapse to zero as the boiler explodes. (Excessive fuel pumped into the flame heating the boiler.)

    SUMMARY: The human caused cancer on the biosphere will end. How is uncertain; but neither alternative (extinction or subsistence level existence) is attractive. Cancers always destroy their hosts in the end, if not properly treated / cured. Unfortunately, man-made climate change seems destine to continue accelerating. - More CO2 is released every year, and eventually it is likely that methane released from the methane ice in shallow waters and from the melting tundra will dominate the CO2 as cause of ever more rapid global warming.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
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  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I want to tell of a conversation that changed my life: While a graduate student in Baltimore, I would occasionally visit my only female cousin, in her home in Fox Hall part of DC. She had inherited sets of silverware from her mother, two aunts, and received some as wedding presents. I helped her polish the huge pile on her kitchen table as we talked. After about an hour of dual silver polishing she said to me:
    "You don't really own things; Things own you."

    In the original sense of the word, I am a wealthy old cynic. Few things "own me." I do not have an ipod, a car, a cell phone, or any modern technology except a digital camera and the 500 dollar computer I am using now. I have an excess of inherited clothes - more than I can live to wear out, including five decade old shirts and suits that were my father's - some so old they have come back into style, except the pants have "cuffs" at the bottom of the legs but as a true cynic, that is of no concern to me. I do buy a new pair of tennis shoes about every eight years (for $11 at Cosco during my annual visits to the US, where I have four grand children and two daughters, and sometimes a pack of underwear there too).
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  10. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    Those are the only 2 options? How about a peaceful agrarian culture. That would be nice....
  11. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Without population control there will be wars for arable land or ever smaller individual plots being farmed, until the diminished in size plots can only provide a subsistence level existence. How can population control be imposed on groups who think it is God's will that they be "fruitful and dominate the earth" ?
  12. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    We will eventually grow up. I'm not saying we won't have to hit bottom first...
  13. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    I am in total agreement with this philosophy, only darker.

    And by that I mean, things that most of society would agree is bad, I tend to think of in terms of a balance in terms of bad for people, but good for nature. More and more of this is happening in association with global warming. The Polar bear won't be the last top predator dislodged from the top of the food chain if this continues to its inevitable conclusion. You can try to buck nature, but nature invariably bucks back.

    As an example, it is a waste of energy to use air conditioning in Las Vegas. Turn off all the A/C in the gambling casinos there and see if you can even pull the handle of a slot machine without burning your hand. If you can't take the heat, then perhaps you don't really belong there.

    I visited Las Vegas exactly once in my life, and didn't gamble a penny. My plan is not to ever return. How this desert community became a mecca for gambling and entertainment, I have no idea. I only understand, it isn't really a place that is needed in terms of human activity being attuned to the harsh realities of the native environment. No doubt, such people balk at any suggestion they are in any manner responsible for damaging it. You cannot make the inside cooler without making the outside even hotter. Do you think such people would feel obliged to donate all their gambling profits to care for all the Polar bears they are helping to kill? Only if they were allowed to hunt the seals that used to support them.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
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  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    All species do this. Look what rabbits did to Australia. Zebra mussels to the Great Lakes. Beavers to Terra del Fuego. Kudzu to Georgia. Asian beetles to US forests. All doing their best to destroy their environment via overpopulation.
    Local increases in temperature due to refrigeration do not affect polar bears. Burning coal to generate that power, however, does.
  15. Mark UX Registered Member

    Thank you Bill. This is the kind of post/comments I really appreciate, it was brilliant. At least I am not alone, there are people out there reasoning about this issue, like I did. And yes, I totally agree about the 'cancer' analogy.

    I will take an example and hope not to offend anyone: India. There are more than 1.27 billions of humans living in a 3.2 millions km2 area. One have to be blind not to see that this will cause implosion (that implosion started, actually). Humans (like cancer, as Bill said) once they have cause enough erosion to the close environment... move (migration), to different areas in order to keep surviving (and... keep reproducing), and Will keep causing erosion on the environment they move next. Again, I am not trying to offend a particular culture or nation, but I think is the most living example of the issue presented above. Another example could be Haiti: nature and biodiversity is so damaged, that natural resources close to non-existing, which forces its people to desesperately move to other territories. This is not India or Haiti exclusive problems (are just taken as examples, please do not offend). If I have to find an offender, this would be our current economic systems: since they have been promoting this insatiable and voracious appetite for consuming much more than we really need: the more we consume > the more we need to produce > the more destruction will happen.

    But if we take India/Haiti examples at larger scale (Earth), it is too obvious that we all are acting the same way (what fluctuates is the intensity of the erosion caused), so implosion (Bill's example (2): complete collapse), is guarantee.

    My vision about this is that Earth is a living organism on its own, acting as a host for the biodiversity living on it. And like any live form, a threat to its own subsistence causes a defensive reaction agains the offender life form: us.

    Earth and its nature are so smart, that a complete collapse (2) of our existense, will be its way of deffending from us: the same way the inmune system in our body defends among virus, balance of bacterias, etc.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  16. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I hope you are right and that there is enough time before passing the point of no return (assuming it has not already occurred). There is as of yet no indication of progress. - the concentrations of Green House Gases increases every year, significantly. As they say to get out of a hole, stop digging.

    The problem is too complex and too poorly understood (>24 positive feed backs known, a couple of which I have added*) to give any validity to predictive models. Even the current focus on CO2 may be wrong - not likely BY ITSELF able to make man extinct; but GW is increasing the rate of methane release which can. See: http://www.sciforums.com/threads/is-global-warming-even-real.143423/page-14#post-3268234

    * One related to large tropical forest fires and the Hadley cell circulation is discussed here:

    Another is here: http://www.sciforums.com/threads/climate-gate.97892/page-46#post-3213664 That describes in analytical model a new large scale natural pump that lifts CH4 up from deep in perma frost holes like Yamal. Later posts apply model to explain why CH4 is bubbling up in large (1 Km diameter) colums in the arctic ocean when accepted theory says it can not do that, as the tiny bubbles have very low terminal velocity and would desolve before reaching the surface. That would be true, if they did not make the entire column buoyant.

    This reply to bilvon's comments is informative too:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  17. Mark UX Registered Member

    Yours is a perfectly acceptable solution, except one thing: politicians and economic forces will not let it happen. This demostrates how decadent our role on Earth has become: that members of our very same specie (people with voracious economic interests, politicias, etc) prefer the risky game of potentially lead us to exintion, instead of stop and adopt a peaceful agrarian culture, as you suggest. Quite sad: they are not dinosaurious or sharks threating me: they belong to my own specie.
  18. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    I wouldn't call it sad. Every species becomes extinct eventually. I'd rather go out on our own terms instead of lingering on in some futile attempt to out-think evolution.
  19. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Let us contemplate self loathing. When the condition progresses to the point where the victim of the self affliction needs to project it out onto the entire species, then it becomes a problem.
    We ain't a virus nor a cancer.
    We're simply another child of our co-evolutionary biom.
    We ain't the only child who has modified it's environment detrimentally of beneficially. (From sheep to goats to elephants to viruses who accidentally kill their hosts there are many more examples from our fellow creatures.)

    Let's start with the primary producers. They were so damned determined to thrive that they modified the atmosphere. Initially, the modification benefited their relatives who were able to colonize the land. Did they stop there? NO they kept on enriching the atmosphere with their waste product oxygen. The earth was experiencing wildfires that beggar the imagination.
    Then along came the animals. And still the primary producers were continuing to enrich the atmosphere with oxygen. 65-100 million years ago the land animals were often caught in hellish wildfires as the earth sought to re-balance the atmosphere.

    Let us try to see ourselves and our species in a beneficial symbiotic roll.
    If our brains are up to the task, we may yet make of this co-evolutionary biom a real Eden.
    It ain't gonna be easy.
    It starts with a positive mental attitude.
  20. Mark UX Registered Member

    We heard this argument many times. But it seems to forget one important thing: from all known species, we are the only ones capables of reasoning. No other specie on Earth went from arrows and hammers to Artificial Intelligence and nanotecnology as humans. So this fact that we are able to reasoning, make us much more guilty.

    You cannot blame a lion for killing its prey, nor you can blame a shark for smelling blood and attacking its target: they are following their instinct, not reasoning.

    Being able to reasoning and having awareness of the problem, make us 'special'.
  21. Mark UX Registered Member

    Imagine a 3-4 billion of people, living on earth, your way. This is sustainability.

    This makes me recall a documentary I saw time ago, where a professor exposed this:

    "The conventional view is that the economy is there to produce goods and services, and the more we produce and consume, the better off we'll be. But there's a lot of evidence to show that's not really the case. Consumption of goods and services only improves people's sense of satisfaction up to a fairly low threshold, beyond which it becomes counterproductive in terms of their long-term wellbeing.

    Our focus on consumption is a form of psychological junk food. It's something that makes us feel good temporarily but in the end it makes us unhealthy."

    Robert Constanza.
    Professor of Ecological Economics, University of Vermont.
    This professor cannot be more correct.
  22. billvon Valued Senior Member

    OK. So all life forms are virus, we are just more viruses that can feel guilt.
    Animals have far more reason than you think they do. Dogs make moral decisions; apes decide to fight wars. We are not unique in that respect.
  23. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Look at ants or termites, they rebuild their entire environment to suit themselves. We aren't that different.

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