E.g. lobsters were once so plentiful that native americans used them as fertilizer. And there's photographic evidence of overfishing too.  is a nice NPR piece about how the largest catch of the year at a particular spot in Florida has been dwindling.
 - http://www.gma.org/lobsters/allaboutlobsters/lobsterhistory....
When I was young, I was driving a small bike. Having mosquitoes or flies clouds was a common occurrence on the road and the best motivator to wear a helmet for a youngster not bothered by security.
Nowadays, I'm still driving a bike, although a bigger one. But I encounter a bug cloud maybe once a year.
Our garden is also quite silent, and I have to go to the country side to hear the bugs again.
Given the massive role of fishes and bugs in our ecosystem, this is more than alarming.
We already have a hard time making people aware of one single issue, such as global warming. But the reality of the scale of our fuck up is so beyond that, as we have a bleak role in:
- global warming
- killing most animals, including fished and bugs
- then selectively breading the remaining life to serve our interest only, annihilating biodiversity and its balance
- destruction of huge biomes by either exploiting it or polluting it
- consuming resources at a rate that make even the most abundant of them seem scarce
- polluting air and water to such a scale it's becoming a health issue
Scientists are alarmed by one topic, saying we should do something before it's too late.
However, take all those topics together and the big picture seems an impossible battle to win, which ironically we fight against ourself, that is leading us to the worst possible ending
The almost insolvable problem we have is everyone 60 or younger grew up with throwaway consumerism as "normal". My parents generation didn't. They had a fraction of my generation's environmental impact without any efforts to environmentalism. Simply they expected to buy something once then repair it if need be and replace when broken beyond repair. Not when something a little better gets released.
For all the huge increase in general awareness of the environment, when in the 80s the environment was something of the fringe, we're destroying it at an ever increasing rate. I'm not optimistic.
When I read other comments about birds obscuring the sky, fishes you could caught by hand, etc. It seemed unreal, almost magical. A fairy tale on some Westeros-like world.
If we can use this narrative to astonish people, and make them get perspective on what should be, it can be a powerful message.
"Eat less meat", "recycle", "use less the car/plane" are not really sexy. They are constraints.
"Look how amazing things used to be before we did this", however, is much more inspirational.
I think it needs a multi-pronged approach. Inspiration is a great start, but it's fairly weak against a marketing machine spending billions inventing more nonexistent problems and needs.
We need to rediscover collective action, activism of the get off facebook and into the street to make someone's life difficult variety, regulation as a good thing (food safety laws, clean air acts, child labour laws etc), and stop pretending the market has the solution to everything.
That's a slightly challenging wishlist especially if we don't want to give up all the lifestyle in the process. :)
Where most people live, virtually everything is covered with concrete and whatever is left green is routinely sprayed with lots of chemicals.
It just happens we don't share it and we waste it.
I think energy, peace and hygiene are a better factor in baby booming. They contribute to a better food distribution as well.
But even then, people don't need that much food to be healthy. A regular human being can live happy with one meal a day. We are just used to more.
The population was also much lower in the past.
The problem is more about:
- people not helping each others
- a small group of people keeping a lot of it for themself (royalty, rich cast, etc)
And of course now we face a novel problem: the fact our population is getting huge and want to eat meat 2 times a day.
Also, I feel that these appeals often suggest that we should be OK with letting some unspecified Other die for the cause of environmentalism when we would clearly not accept this for ourselves.
Who said anything about wealth? That sounds like a red herring to me. In any ecosystem, with any living organism, a population will increase until it reaches the limit of its food supply.
>Also, I feel that these appeals often suggest that we should be OK with letting some unspecified Other die for the cause of environmentalism when we would clearly not accept this for ourselves.
And I feel like your appeals are more interested in virtue signaling than actually having a meaningful discussion.
Say you have an island that has enough resources to feed 100 people. 30 settlers move there. In a few years, the population grows to 105. There isn't enough food. People die off and the population is down to 95. There's enough food to go around, so the next generation the population grows to 105 again. This process fluctuates indefinitely.
Then someone takes a boat out and discovers a nearby island. This has enough resources to feed another 100 people. There's enough food to go around, until the population reaches 205 people. Now there's not enough food again and people are starving. Repeat indefinitely until we run out of islands.
There is no solution to "solving hunger" that doesn't involve controlling birth rates. Anything else is just pushing the problem back. Nobody has to die. Simply making contraceptives as ubiquitous in third world countries as they are in developed countries would probably solve most of the problem.
You can see his very well made conference on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY&feature=list_oth...
It's one of the reasons I'm very excited about vasalgel:
This procedure has been tested for 10 years in India under the name of RISUG and has been quite successful up to now.
I really hope we can demonstrate it's efficient and safe in the US, as:
- the procedure it incredibly simple: a simple injection
- it's semi-permanent: up to 10 years with one injection
- it's supposedly reversible : back to fertility in 3 month after an injection of another product
- it's not hormone based. In fact it does not appear to affect the body outside of the injection area.
- it's on the male size. Now given than less males want children than females and that there are still many males having children despite not wanting them, I'm curious on the effect perfect male control can have. Not only on the population growth, but also on the quality of fatherhood. I just hope it won't make STD more common because people will avoid condoms.
Reversibility has been an issue to prove on rabbits for now. So the suspense is killing me :)
As for the food supply stuff: animal populations can be constrained by factors other than food supply, particular when we're talking about a population which is capable of reason. You yourself seem to acknowledge this when you propose offering condoms, which would be a nonsensical suggestion if you truly believed that the only thing affecting population size was food supply. Therefore, I do not believe it is necessary for the sake of the planet to deliberately allow people to die of starvation.
Empricially incorrect with humans, largely because human reproductive behavior isn't purely instinct driven and involves conscious choice based on lifestyle concerns, which is why natural population growth consistently declines with I creasing strength of social support systems. The distributional failures which are the only reason for world hunger despite far more than sufficient production to neat global needs also contributes to population growth by making children and family the social support structure in much of the world.
Solving world hunger means solving the distribution problems which allow hunger to exist, which means improving social safety nets around the world; stronger social safety nets are consistently associated with lower rates of natural population growth, so, no, solving world hunger doesn't mean causing a population boom, it means reducing global population growth.
It does mean a smaller share of the people who are born will live in misery and die young, but it also means fewer people will be born in the first place.
Debatable. In The Netherlands, except for professional cyclers people who drive bicycles generally don't wear helmets. If they'd do, they'd look like profs and then cars keep less distance, which is an increased danger. A cap and glasses works fine for me with regards to sun and getting things in my eyes (sand is still annoying at times), just don't drive with your mouth open.
Plentiful for that population, at that time. We're now 7+BILLION people and a lot of them are rich enough to demand fish, lobster and so on. Just in China we have millions of newly minted millionaires. Not to mention their middle class. Maine lobster is good? So get me some.
So if the fish disappear, maybe the forest does, too.
Probably isotopes. It's always isotopes.
Nitrogen at best, but not protein...
Precise arrangements for where/when to meet ("at 10:10, on the corner of mumble and mumble") - because no cell phones. Boston Python, having an unusually large turnout... so someone needed to pull up an extra chair to the conference room table (instead of 150+waitlist) - because so fewer programmers. "Computer" is a job title. Chatting with the elevator operator. Going into downtown office buildings (no staff in the lobby), up and into an office, and wandering around looking for someone to ask where to find the person you're looking for (instead of presenting government-issued papers to be photographed by a security guard in the lobby in order to attend a meetup). As maybe a view of the future: Boston SIGCHI meetups (hosted at Amazon) have lately required signing an NDA to attend. No food or money for dinner in NYC? Head to the clam banks to get both. Manhattan is so noisy you have to yell to be heard by the person next to you... because of the immense flocks of extinct and unGoogleable Christmas Tree Birds (they looked like candle flames decorating trees). Real open-flame candles on Christmas trees. Theft by servants and employees as a commonplace aspect of the relationship. A British officer writing in shocked disbelief, 'the American officer... he, he _talked_ with his men... he asked them what they thought! he really did!'. Egyptian farming villages going on strike, to bring down Ottoman official wrath on intemperate local elites. And on and on. Anyone have favorites?
Second item would be watching the bison migrate on the plains. Literally horizon to horizon, a hundred thousand individuals or more in a group. More than ten bison for every person alive on the continent. Same with the passenger pigeons - the sky would go dark from dawn to dusk with the movement of 6 billion birds.
The headlights, windshield and parts of the body were always significantly covered by dead insects.
For the past 5 years or so however, they have almost always been perfectly clean. This has amazed me.
Also, quite relevant to the topic at hand ..
Less of a bow wave to divert them away from the vehicle earlier.
As annoying as it is, it's a useful critter.
You see, the way you react is the very cause of our current troubles: we only see the living systems as a way to please us, and only on the short term. When they don't please us, we start hating them, and find a way to bend them to our will.
Now we destroyed most of the systems, or at least their balance, and we are painfully discovering that it may dooms us all.
So let's try to adopt a different point of view before we face even more terrible consequences of our gluttonous actions.
for humans yes - which was his point. looking at this from a human perspective is a problem. there are likely unknown consequences elsewhere in the food chain if we completely eradicate a species for our own gain
Though frankly I'd be willing to risk them gone for good.
If we were being deliberate, sure, a targeted assassination of the Anopheles mosquito might not be a bad thing. But I don't get that sense at all... More like collateral damage.
At least in New York, we put tremendous resources towards keeping harmful mosquito populations down. A better canary insect might be the bee.
The only species that thrive are the opportunist ones that tied their fate to the humans: cockroaches, fruit flies, dogs, cattle, chicken, etc.
Those don't pollinate plants, they don't eat plant parasites , they pollute the water and air, and because we feed them with so much crap, even the land instead of fertilizing it.
That said, bees seem to be dwindling, so you have a point.
I come inside quickly in summer because there are mosquitoes and flies all over the place. Doing fireworks with my kids last week, I was deliberately standing downwind in the path of the smoke bombs to get some relief. I'm religious about not having standing water around, our cars are covered in bug carcasses after a 10-mile drive. I literally feel mosquitoes bouncing off my forehead as I walk through my dark backyard. I kill massive deer/horse flies constantly.
If insects are dying, it sure ain't around here!
But one thing to remember is that nature works locally. I think there is a chance to protect the environment through isolated "islands" - with no human contact whatsoever - where flora and fauna have the chance to come back.
Interestingly, Chernobyl is quite a good example for that: https://nordic.businessinsider.com/wildlife-near-nuclear-rea...
It's sad we destroy it. I wish we would not.
But it will survive, thrive even.
The problem is that our current actions will kill us.
It's a good complement to old seeds data banks like kokopelli's.
So, if true, that means that it was hardly natural beforehand either. It may be we are just using better pesticides, so we moved from one artificial environment to a different one. Both are out-of-whack compared to what would naturally be there. How do you know the previous conditions, where there was lots of farmland, but no good pesticides was the better one?
Humans may be responsible for the decimation or outright extinction of entire species, but isn't that how Nature works? Nature has encountered countless extinctions before us (where's the Megalodon now?) and at least 5 mass extinctions, so why should this dynamic cease now?
(I get the emotional argument for conservationism, and I even share it, even though I might not sound that way. But I've always considered that something purely subjective, not objective, and arguably just as manipulative of Nature.)
You're right, in the sense that of course the tardigrades, archaea around deep ocean vents, and blue-green algae will continue trucking along more or less whatever happens. We, however, are not tardigrades.
It also supports the balance of all the ecosystems: forests, seas, rivers... Which we also depend on to survive.
It's what makes us live on a beautiful, comfortable planet instead of survive in a terraformed rock we have to fight against while rushing to the next scientific way to palliate yet a new deficiency.
In our planet system, everything is connected.
Let's take a very naive but simple to understand example, the tomatoe.
Planting so much, and always the same kind of tomatoes makes the land nutritionally poor and the plant susceptible to parasites. We compensate this unnatural state by addition artificial nutrition and pesticides to the plant.
The result ?
Most tomatoes are tasteless garbage that looks more like a plastic ball than a fruit. Their nutritional content has been divided by 10 during the last 80 years, so that you need to eat much more to remotely get the same minerals and vitamins. When you eat them, you also absorb a small amount of all the products we put on them, with consequences we still don't know about.
That's just for a simple tomato. Bring together all the food, the water, the air, the temperature, etc. together, and that's how much we are disturbing.
It's not just emotional. We are seated on branch we are sawing.
Due to nutrient pollution of the ocean, large dead zones are spreading, these are zones without enough oxygen to support life caused by nitrogen and phosphorous pollution. 70% of the earths oxygen is produced by marine plants. Forests produce most of the rest and we are cutting them down at an accelerating rate.
So from an objective point of view, not enough oxygen is a pragmatic cause for concern. Looking at it from the perspective of nature, species evolve to survive,
it is their prime directive. We are actually doing a pretty good job of working against this directive to our species own detriment.
This mass extinction caused by humans is an order of magnitude faster and affects far more varity of species and plants.
Furthermore, even if the pace and breadth of current extinction were that dramatic, isn't the argument against that a purely emotional one? I sincerely doubt that most humans can even name a hundred species; would they really miss a few million if a few million others remained?
Just to be clear again: I'm not arguing against conservationism, I'm interested in the arguments being made for it. I believe we are conserving for own selfish purposes, and I'm perfectly OK with that. I just think it's wrong to call that "natural".
Nothing. But you can say that about asteroids that kill the planet as well.
That's basically nihilism. Many people want to live and enjoy nature, that's why. We just got conflicting interests of short-term thinking that resembles nihilism (Nothing matters - let's live life to the fullest) and long-term thinking / delayed gratification (I want my kids / all the animals / the next generation to have a nice life as well).
edit: for the semantics of "natural" - humans can be seen as a part of nature. It's just intellectual gymnastics if one defines us as natural or not. Some say humans aren't natural and have good reasons for it, some say they are and have good reasons for that. This discussion really isn't that meaningful. Many peole say we have responsibility because we have consciousness, but even that could be argued. It all depends on what you believe.
If you extrapolate the speed of current devastation, extinction and let it play out over the time-span of the last mass-extinction, there really wont be anything living on earth besides micro-organisms.
Non-selfish arguments for why we should not kill off other species? Why should we not kill all life bigger than a pea on earth? Ill let you take that one.
There are medicinal and practical uses for plants, and some are have only recently been discovered. Losing them is losing this these potential discoveries and uses.
Humans inherently enjoy nature. We like to see trees, greenery , wildlife. The loss of these things hurts our enjoyment of the world.
Examples that come to mind immediately include the huge number of medicines that have been derived by isolating compounds derived from plants, an area which we are probably far from done exploring. Another more specific case I can think of, is how one of the most important compounds in molecular biology today (Taq polymerase) came from bacteria found in the Lower Geyser Basin at Yellowstone. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermus_aquaticus)
What is going to have problems is the health of the ever growing Human population. Us Humans may well be heading towards a crisis, the planet won't even notice.
BTW, I think we should be working hard to support a sustainable future for Humanity and the rest of the environment.
It might be how the nature works, but it is definitely not how Nature works. Capitalisation matters.
Sure, we can keep looking at the half-full glass focusing what is not extinct yet, but over few generations, we might be pretty lonely on this planet when it comes to complex life. It's more an indication of how badly we're screwing our own environment, also for ourselves. It's clear that life itself will survive much harsher situations compared to mankind and repopulate once we're long extinct.
You don't mention where you're located but perhaps you're in an area that isn't as hospitable for mosquito breeding as the location where you were a kid.
But in other comment you mention other insects, so this indeed seems like a broader problem.
Maybe something similar is done in your region?
I truly cannot tell which is supposed to describe the past, and which the present. Both seem common today in Seattle, depending on the building.
extinct and unGoogleable Christmas Tree Birds
Upon reflection, I'm now unsure the "yell to be heard in Manhattan" story was the same bird - I may well be folding together two stories there.
I call total BS. Taking edible food, carting it and then plowing it into fields for edible food in 6 months time. Sounds like fantasy.
Fish Fertilizer: A Native North American Practice?
But if they're more than what you can eat and if using them as fertilizer works, why not
This is so depressing...
The European crayfish is seen as more traditional correct so the beside getting devastated from the plague it is also rather heavily fished. Getting people to stop and only go after the invasive one would be a huge win, but as the trend is currently it look like the European crayfish is going to get extinct. A very clear example where a change in what kind of species we buy would have a positive effect rather than a stop.
 - https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/great-pacific-ga...
If you're interested to see real-time data visualization of fishing around the world that have been monitored.
Native Americans died from diseases and conflicts with a superior group of people. Competition for resources is a core driver of evolution and is nothing new for any species on Earth.
And what do you mean by "superiors group of people"?
There is no easy solution to sustained ecological balance. Only by actively counteract the imbalance by positive action can a balance be maintained.
The problem is unfortunately very complex and in need of some large-scale, targeted effort.
The bycatch for sushi fish is even worse than the figure given in the article:
My marginal impact on the problem is negligible. The issue only manifests itself on a very large scale. Therefore, any solution involving "just stop eating fish" needs to explain a strategy to achieve this change of behavior on a large scale. Note that simply telling people on the Internet to change is not a working strategy - for each individual, again, the impact is marginal, but individual sacrifice required is great, so most people will just shrug and go on with their lives.
Want to make a change? Sure, stop eating fish if you want to signal your commitment. But don't stop at that, because at this point you've achieved nothing. Work to have more impact. Some particular bottom-up and top-down areas I can outline that mesh nicely together:
- Work to make the idea of not eating fish more popular. If you can convince a few hundred thousand people to stop eating fish, then maybe it'll actually show up somewhere on some spreadsheet in a fishing company. Be careful not to become like PETA though - if you're too hard about the topic, people will start eating more fish just out of spite.
- Make it easier for people to stop eating fish. That involves creating and popularizing new foodstuffs that are substitute to fish, but have better ecological footprint.
- The ultimate goal: work towards making the cost of fish products correctly account for externalities. That is, making them (much) more expensive. This involves finding ways to correctly estimate the costs of ecological impact, and then convincing regulators to make fishing industry pay this cost in taxes. Also, you'll want to fight various fishing subsidies that further hide the true costs. You'll make enemies along the way. But this is something that must happen, as it is the real solution. The previous two examples I gave are only supportive to this one. Fish must get more expensive. That's the efficient way of achieving a mass change of behaviour.
I'd love to see the animal agriculture industries forced to pay for their externalities but I doubt it's going to happen any time soon. But in the meantime a lot of positive change has come just from people being made more aware of where what they eat comes from and what it costs to get it there. Non-dairy milks have become so popular, for example, that they've put a huge dent in the dairy industry's profits.
The irony is, that the very same thing that's individually almost meaningless, is also the solution once everyone follows it. And there's a point in the middle somewhere, when the idea becomes popular - like vegetarianism today - and suddenly its impact becomes much greater than before. It gets noticed by the market, it starts flowing through feedback loops and begins affecting everything else. One person in a million refusing to eat fish is meaningless. One in a thousand starts to sound like a business opportunity, and business begets more business.
The trick is, how to get from here to there. Basically, how to start and sustain a movement.
I guess my whole point here is: if you care about a social problem then do your individual thing (here: stop eating fish). But don't stop there, try to do more. Try to speed up the change instead of just changing yourself and hoping others will follow. If we know anything about society, we know this: there are two primary motivators for changing behavior - things that impact one's sense of identity/ego, and things that impact one's wallet. Popularizing fish abstinence is an ego-based solution. Taxing the fishing industry is the economics-based one. We should pursue both.
Popularizing fish abstinence - now, that's an outline of a solution.
There is a lot of 'feigned indignation' in this world, and big plans whereby everyone has to change, and then we will see progress.
I couldn't give up fish, not right now. So I applaud anybody who would actually take that step, over writing a few bullet points as to how we should tackle the problem.
Even if I'm wrong saying that... how long will it take to reach critical mass? How much destruction will be caused attempting to reach it?
Individual-centered solutions can't work efficiently enough for these things to change without personal incentives. We need incentives, replacements, regulations.
Look at the difference between those two worlds:
World 1: "Don't use those free plastic bags! Buy a reusable bag instead for more money! It's the responsible thing to do!"
World 2: "Plastic bags cost $0.06 each."
Which one has less plastic floating in the sea?
But think of all the uplifting articles we'll have about new jobs on farms!
Or to put it another way: try not to contribute to creating a world you don't want to live in.
They'd still be better off than the fishermen who are enslaved.
Why contribute to an industry where there is so much human slavery involved, still in 2018 (source - https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jan/23/t...)?
I'm also upset by the large percentage of slaughtered animals that isn't eaten. Do you have an easy solution for me, just stop eating those species of animals?
I'm also upset by the large percentage of vegetables that's thrown away by the shops. Do you have an easy solution for me, just stop eating vegetables?
So... not so easy.
Edit: Farmed oysters
I get that invasive species can stress their environment until it collapses and ruins even their own capacity to thrive or even survive, but sometimes I get the sense that asian carp are denegrated because they annoy humans by jumping out and slamming into people on boats. Are asian carp really a threat to their surroundings, or simply inconvenient from a human perspective?
> farmed fish can harm wild populations because often their feed, made from wild fish such as sardines and anchovies, is caught at sea and they can cause pollution
I don't think you're after The World Without Us but I guess it's on the same, ish, topic. Looking forward to hearing the correct answer.