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Context is everything (antipope.org)
35 points by geuis 1848 days ago | hide | past | web | 14 comments | favorite

One thing I find interesting is that humans tend to take more care of their environment as prosperity increases. It isn't subsistence farmers campaigning for nature reserves. Even compare poor versus rich housing areas - you immediately know which one has more "green".

Prosperity is strongly correlated with (and some argue caused by) trade and specialisation. Compare this with anti globalisation and "local" movements. It is certain that the latter leads to subsistence if taken to its logical conclusion. So perhaps the best thing to do for the environment is to encourage even more globalisation, only let "local" win when it does by the same measures, and have more trade and hence specialisation. As a bonus, more prosperous humans tend to have fewer children.

Matt Ridley's Rational Optimist has a lot more detail about prosperity, trade and specialisation. Here is a Ted talk to get you going http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.htm...

It's not a new idea, I think George Carlin said something similar.

It boils down to more philosophical questions quickly. What is the meaning of life? Does saving species have some intrinsic worth or is it only a means to an end?

Carlin, "The Planet is Fine. The People are Fucked": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovbF0D2wySI

  (...) the planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE! (..)


Obviously Earth will only be habitable for a finite amount of time and our solar system / galaxy (not quite sure about universe yet) for a finite amount of time as well. Therefore, I think our ultimate goal is to learn to survive outside of these systems. Or at least spread to multiple systems to prevent extinction. There are even more immediate threats such as global warming or nuclear winter scenarios.

Putting our environment first is shortsighted. We should be investing as many resources as possible, as fast as possible, to invent things such as Mr. Fusion, or missions to Mars (yay Elon Musk!) to prevent something like an Olduvai future, as mentioned in the article.

"I think our ultimate goal is to learn to survive outside of these systems"

Surviving is not the goal is only a requirement.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/quotes?qt0324253 Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

I don't think so; we only developed one thing that gave us an absolute advantage over the other animals... a brain; and it rendered equilibrium impossible because we just keep following our instincts despite having an unfair advantage... just like any other mammal would if they could.

Yes, and an obvious limit to the original article is that earth is only worth preserving for the human race until we have found interesting alternatives. If there are habitable other worlds within reach or ways to terraform planets, why bother with earth? At that point, suck it dry, release the arsenic - unless it can be kept as some kind of museum.

Real life example - the crusades where a valid strategy for the catholic church and the european powers until the new world was found. At that point, it made no sense to keep wasting resources. (did you even wondered if Constantinople and the Byzantine empire would have been given up so easily while Jerusalem was fought for centuries?)

I think if we achieve the ability to be self-sufficient in space it's our responsibility to try to reduce our resource consumption on earth and preserve it, just as much as we preserve any part of our history.

However, as we are currently dependent on our planet for survival and its fate is somewhat at stake, it is our first priority to insure against it. After that we have a couple billion years before our solar system poses a threat.

Pollution is not in the best interest of the majority of people. Property rights would give tens of millions of people the legal ability to protect their property.

What you are proposing is sort of the opposite of that. A few, at the expense of the many, should be given free reign to find solutions. Effectively, you are justifying theft. This doesn't make for a very good free market.

Perhaps a free market, based on property rights, would be a better way to solve problems like pollution. You have the interests of millions aligned instead of a few.

What does MYa mean?

I thought it meant million years ago,but he writes "400MYa ago" and "200Mya [...] from now"

Megayears ago. It is a million years.. . http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/megayear

Maybe he meant "MYa" to mean megayears? I'm guessing this because he also used "GYa", which could be gigayears.

If you start your essay with a vision of the future spanning millions of years ahead, your call to action at the end is only going to evoke the emotion of "I don't care about introducing some variation in this one big random process".

Context indeed.

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