Saving the planet: Putting things in perspective. - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 05-14-2008, 05:25 AM
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Time and time again have I heard people talk about small Earth and save planet. I hope that this little post can put things back in perspective. Note that none of this is meant to be an excuse for the things we do wrong, I just wanted to post my viewpoint, nothing more.



The planet is far too large for us to save it from anything with our current scientific knowledge and technology. Fact is, that this planet is absolutely enormous: Suppose the Earths radius was just one meter. I'm 1.93 meters, so it would stick out seven centimeters above my head. Now picture a 6.5 kilometer high mountain (to humans thats huge). On the scaled down Earth, it would only stick out one millimeter. Deepest point in the ocean? Nothing more then a two millimeter dent. It's clear from these figures that this planet isn't going anywhere soon.



In the past the Earth has been hit by a rather large rock from space, and the energy released by that impact was far greater then anything we could come up with today. That impact had an enormous effect on life on Earth, yet it left only a tiny little dimple in the earths surface (compared to the Earths size). With our current knowledge, it won't be easy to stop such an event if it would ever happen again, and compared to what it takes to destroy Earth, that rock was probably a little grain of sand. If such a planet destroying monstrosity would ever be heading our way, then we'd be completely powerless to stop it. Hopefully we can do better in the future.



The environment is a different story. Because of the sheer size and intensity of our operations today, we are making changes to a very changeable system. To the Earth, those changes are unimportant. To life, those changes can be huge and dangerous. Such changes have occurred in the past naturally and were responsible for the extinction of many species. While our own influence isn't having those vast effects yet, we have made a mess out of things. It's a fact that the environment is a very changeable and flexible system, and that life can have a very hard time to adjust to those changes, and is often powerless to directly stop those changes.



Furthermore, life on Earth is ridiculously minuscule compared to Earth, and other common objects in space. The radius of our sun is already more then a hundred times larger then Earths radius, and our sun is only a small star compared to the big ones! Life on Earth has always been living on the edge, and nothing we can do today, can stop that. Also, just consider the fact that the most numerous lifeforms can't even be seen with the naked eye, yet they can potentially evolve to become dangerous enough to wipe us out, just like that, and our medical knowledge would be powerless to stop it. While we are certainly a threat, we are not alone, and not even the biggest. There are potential threats from Earth, besides us, and there are threats from space.



The big difference with us and other threats is, that at least we can stop ourselves from being a threat. Evolving microbes certainly can't, and a large asteroid can't either. We are also able to reverse at least some of the damage we have caused to life, and undo some of the changes to the environment by taking any responsibility we can.



With us, life has reached a new level, and we should do our best to make sure we aren't just an evolutionary mistake, like viruses are (probably). Remember, what we are is new to life, and it may take some more evolving for nature to get it right, if so, let us at least try to make that possible, by minimizing the damage we cause, and to clean up after ourselves when ever we can.



I hope that at least someone found this a little interesting.
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#2 Old 05-14-2008, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Thorham View Post

There are potential threats from Earth, besides us, and there are threats from space.

I found it interesting, but what are you referring to here?
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#3 Old 05-14-2008, 01:17 PM
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I found it interesting, but what are you referring to here?

Cool you found it interesting. It refers to saving the planet (or it's supposed to). I get the impression that many people only look at humans as the biggest threat, while in my oppinion, we are the most imidiate threat.
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#4 Old 05-14-2008, 01:37 PM
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Very interesting piece. What other threats are you referring to? Or do you not have anything specific in mind? I'd love to hear more on that too.
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#5 Old 05-14-2008, 01:51 PM
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Very interesting piece. What other threats are you referring to? Or do you not have anything specific in mind? I'd love to hear more on that too.

I'm guessing gamma ray bursts, black holes, giant space rocks, that sort of thing.

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#6 Old 05-15-2008, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by dahlia View Post

Very interesting piece. What other threats are you referring to? Or do you not have anything specific in mind? I'd love to hear more on that too.

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Originally Posted by Indian Summer View Post

I'm guessing gamma ray bursts, black holes, giant space rocks, that sort of thing.

Thank you. Basically, I'm referring to space rubble large enough to not burn up in the atmosphere, and still be big enough to cause damage. Things like black holes are too far away to cause a threat anytime soon, and we're protected from the suns radiation by the Earths magnetic field, so unless that field changes (which could actually happen), life is safe enough.



So it's basically space rubble and evolution that are potentially very dangerous threats. Evolution shouldn't be under estimated. Probably way too many people think that we rule living nature (just because we have a relatively well developed intellect), while danger wise, we're probably on par with potential evolutionary threats. It's been seen in the past with large epidemics, where a virus or bacterium killed many people. Today, many of those diseases can be cured, but we're constantly behind evolutionary developments (we don't even know all species of life that exist today, and, for example, we're lucky hiv is only transmittable through blood/sex and not air), and there could come a day, when we don't have enough time to learn how to deal with those new diseases.



Living on a planet in the universe is dangerous, and being part of life is dangerous, too, and in a way, it's surprising to me there's so much life here (which is just a side point).
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#7 Old 05-16-2008, 04:46 AM
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Neat post, food for thought :-)
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#8 Old 05-17-2008, 07:20 PM
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nice thread, wake me up when the fight starts.

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#9 Old 05-17-2008, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Thorham View Post

.....I get the impression that many people only look at humans as the biggest threat, while in my oppinion, we are the most imidiate threat.



I think you're right about this - the thing is that by biggest threat, all the factors are being considered (in my head, anyway ) - and the immediacy of the threat of us is important enough to tip the scales in our favor. So other events may pose a 'bigger threat', but as they are unknown, and less immediately likely, they drop in importance. Whereas although we may not blow up the planet, we sure as hell can kill off multiple species (we already have) including, possibly, ourselves - and the thing is we will if we don't smarten the heck up; it's a known, definable and timeable threat - so all of this puts us in the place of 'biggest' threat.



Hmmm - does any of that make sense?
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#10 Old 05-18-2008, 12:12 AM
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I think you're right about this - the thing is that by biggest threat, all the factors are being considered (in my head, anyway ) - and the immediacy of the threat of us is important enough to tip the scales in our favor. So other events may pose a 'bigger threat', but as they are unknown, and less immediately likely, they drop in importance.

I think you're missing poetry as a big part of the threat matrix. if you can find a human cause for the problem you're more likely to see a guilt response. environmentalists use a lot of religious myth. that all problems must relate to some human sin, garden of eden reinvented. to make amends puts you back in the graces of god, etc.



the tasmanian devil is endangered because of a outbreak of horrific facial tumors that grow until the creature starves to death. there is no anthropogenic cause, people speculate. I believe they would be comforted if there was a human industrial society type cause. There isn't. sometimes a small population can just die out from lack of genetic diversity (oh, subtlely human caused again?).



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I have to look at the landscape of the blue-green world again. Just think: in all the clean, beautiful reaches of the solar system, our planet alone is a blot; our planet alone has death. I have to acknowledge that the sea is a cup of death and the land is a stained altar stone. We the living are survivors huddled on flotsam, living on jetsam. We are escapees. We wake in terror, eat in hunger, sleep with a mouthful of blood.


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#11 Old 05-18-2008, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by otomik View Post

I think you're missing poetry as a big part of the threat matrix. if you can find a human cause for the problem you're more likely to see a guilt response. environmentalists use a lot of religious myth. that all problems must relate to some human sin, garden of eden reinvented. to make amends puts you back in the graces of god, etc...



What the heck is your point? It may be a guilt thing for some people, but perhaps it's simply a responsibility thing? You can think 'I did this, I should do what I can to fix it' without wallowing in useless guilt.



I also don't really know what you're talking about with 'environmentalists use a lot of religious myth....'. I don't think I've ever come across any mention of original sin, or garden of eden, or anything of that type. Puts us back in the graces of god? Where are you getting this?
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