Evolution and Environmentalism

Kermit Duncan jodunca2 at vt.edu
Tue Sep 2 19:39:08 EST 1997

Dylan NICHOLSON wrote:

> But surely the MOST powerful species should survive at the expense of EVERY
> OTHER species, and have sole access to all resources available for life. This
> necessarily means destruction of other species.

This is silly.  Do you seriously mean "Every other species"?  In the case of humans,
why must I live at the expense of the earthworm? the blue whale? Are you being literal
or abstract?  Why does one species need *all* resources?  Only if its poplulation has
grown too large.  Your statements require the assumption that expansion and control is
a natural instinct, but I don't believe that is so.  In a wilderness environment
without a significant human influence, does the strongest species cause extinctions in
many weaker species?  No, but according to you it "should."  What version of nature
are you imagining?

> >> It is almost unquestionable that if this does
> >> continue, this perfectly natural process, then the ultimate outcome will be
> >> the complete extinction of all other species, mankind being the final
> >> victor in the survival race.
> >This is not a "natural" process.  Among other things, it is a result of
> >"civilized" man's delusion that he owns the world and *must* do with it what he
> >wishes.  Do so-called "primitive" cultures, untouched by the "modern world" run
> >into these environmental problems?  Do they contribute to the extinction of
> >species in a comparable scale as we do?  As far as I know, environmental
> >destruction (not manipulation, as in beavers, etc.) is a behavior restricted to
> >modern human society.  If I am mistaken, would someone please inform me?
> This is a good point, and unforunately the answer is rather open to abuse,
> which is perhaps that in modern society there are a higher proportion of
> aggressive genes, better at SURVIVAL (but nothing else) than those in less
> developed cultures. Still as I pointed out, being better at survival is no
> qualitative evalution, and a species would probably be better off happy than
> trying simply to outsurvive all others.

Very open to attack (not abuse).  1) Do "aggressive genes" exist?  Do you have a
shread of evidence that we have more of them than primitive cultures?  Besides,
aggression does not eqaul survival.  Aggressive animals get themselves into bad
situations and kill themselves off, usually.  Why do you think that in the wild
species are constantly trying to outsurvive others?  What does this mean?  How does a
species try to "outsurvive" another, by killing the other?  That DOES NOT happen in
nature.  In nature, most animals spend 75% of their time or more resting and relaxing,
not working like we foolishly do.  The average workweek for primitive cultures is
something like 20 hrs, 3 hrs. a day.  Nature provides happiness through leisure time.
Nature is not a constant battle to destroy one's competitors.

> >I also disagree with your calling survival a race, it is not a competition in the
> >usual sense.  Yes animals compete against each other for food and other
> >resources, but they do not hunt or attack their competitors just to get them
> >out of the way.
> This is because no species as yet completely severed its dependence on other
> species. What I am interested in is what will happen when, inevitably, this
> occurs.

1) Why is it inevitable?  2) Why is it neccesary?  I can only imagine this to be the
case if there is only one species of anything.  I seriously doubt this will ever

> >> rebounded on us horribly, and the fact that many, if not most people are
> >> capable of being moved by nature, appreciating its intrinsic beauty, even
> >> parts of it that make no, or even negative contributions to our survival
> >> chances.
> >Nature and its beauty do not have a negative effect on our survival.  If they
> >do have a negative effect, it is on our expansion, an unnecessary and
> >destructive process in itself.
> Expansian is a destructive process for all other species, to be sure, but
> it is not destructive for the species doing the expanding. Genes cannot
> possibly evolved to look after other species, EXCEPT if those other species
> are necessary for our own survival.

So, according to you, population growth cannot be a problem for the growing species.
So why does every other species practice active or passive population control?
Perhaps because otherwise they will run out of FOOD?  We're not supposed to look after
other species as long as al (including ourselves)l are living within the laws of life
and nature, currently we are not.  If we only should care about species necessary to
our survival, what should we do with all the other species?  Kill them?  If so, why
don't other species do this?  Why don't lions kill the hyenas?  Do they think they
should kill the hyenas, but choose not to?  NO, no "animal" species attacks another
because it doesn't make any sense to.  It isn't natural.  Why should we?

> >own fields?  A variety of meals or the same thing, every day?  My point is that
> >a variety of food sources is a very good thing.  It doesn't harm our survival,
> >it helps insure it against almost any kind of disaster because it would take a
> >very devastating event to destroy the entire food chain (such an event has
> >never happened on this planet.  Proof: we're here).  Biodiversity is a very
> >good thing for the entire ecosystem.
> It harms our survival ONLY because there are more other species competing
> for the same resources. Biodiversity may be good for the ecosystem but it
> cannot be good for the *survival prospects* of a species that does not require
> other species to survive.

That makes no sense.  First, *please* tell me why we need to use every resource on
earth.  Biodiversity provides multiple sources of food for every non-self sufficient
species on earth.  Food is good for survival, and multiple sources of it is better.
The only species alive that do not need any other species are perhaps some very simple
organisms that get all of their energy from photosynthesis, and guess what will
probably happen to them... evolution...  Humans cannot become self-sufficient,
period.  They can generate something like food and live off of it, but only with
technology.  This doesn't count as self-sufficient, they are reliant on the
technology, a very dangerous prospect.

> >Though I might have implied it earlier, I'll say it more clearly now:  Our
> >problem isn't that nature's laws are destructive, it's that we ignore nature's
> >laws because we think that we are above all other animals and the laws they
> >MUST live by.  If you think about it, I find it apparent that as a society we
> >are boldly/stupidly ignoring the goals and rules of evolution.  We use medicine
> >and technology to make people with genetic diseases, defects, or deficiencies
> >as capable as anyone of living a "normal" life, having kids, and passing their
> >genes on to more generations.  We also treat almost every little cold and
> >infection with chemicals that take care of what our immune system is supposed
> >to do.  As a society we believe that man is the greatest species possible and
> >evolution has no where to go, so we don't try to give it a chance.
> This I agree with, and is one of our other tendencies to go against natural
> law that is evolutionary quite interesting. But I still hold that nature's
> laws are essentially destructive for every other species but the hypothetical
> one that does not require them.

You may hold whatever your evolved opposed thumb will let you, but please clarify.
Nature's laws are destructive for every species except for the hypothetical one that
doesn't need "them" (the other species?)  Again, this makes no sense.  How can you
believe that the laws of life are destructive?  Why would life have gotten anywhere in
the primordial soup if nature is against life?  After billions of years, life is still
here.  Has all life been fighting nature since life began?  Why didn't those early,
weak species die back then?  No other species, no matter how advanced, systematically
destroys the habitat and food sources of hundreds of other species.  None.  Our
behavior isn't healthy.

> >obviously not true.  Diversity exists because it is supposed to.  Why would it
> >take billions of years of evolution to finally come up with one species (us)
> >that is natural (using your definition of natural: destroy other species to
> >survive)?  According to your arguement, Nature isn't natural.
> I am not suggesting that biodiversity is not natural, it is natural so long
> as species depend on other species for survival. Once this is no longer the
> case for a single species, biodiversity is not natural.

Species do depend on others to survive, other than those I mentioned, do you know of
any that don't?

> >There is much more to the theory of evolution than natural selection, and most
> >creationist-biologists agree that natural selection does occur.  Saying that
> >evolution is not good or bad is like saying that it has no point and has not
> >helped any species at all throughout the history of life.  I doubt that you
> >agree with what you are saying when it's viewed in this light.  Also, saying
> >that it is okay to "go against" evolution is a poor idea all around.  You seem
> >to believe that evolution put us here the way we are.  Why should we turn on it
> >now?
> a) not good or bad = no point? I don't see the connection, given I mean 'good'
> or 'bad' in terms of human morals.

I mean that if it isn't good or bad, then it must not have any cumulative effect,
which isn't true.

> b) we should turn on it because we are not happy with the way evolution has
> created us, understandably so

You have a problem with how you evolved?  What is your problem?  Individuals with such
problems are probably rare and don't reproduce, so that type of creature dies out.  Do
you have a problem with how you evolved or how your society works?  Personally, I
don't like the society.

> >> I would not like to live in a world with no forests, no bushland, no birds,
> >> no animals, even with no annoying insects or disease, and even if we as
> >> humans needed none of these things to survive.
> >We do.
> Currently.

We(humans) will always need other species to survive, especially to survive
successfully and happily.  If you disagree, try to explain (you'll probably be wrong,
but try anyway).

> >Evolution has nothing to do with happiness.  Nature as a whole, of which
> >evolution is a part, does contribute heavily to happiness and a sense of
> >meaning and worth, just learn about the lack of mental illness and depression
> >in primitive cultures.
> I agree entirely.

Good to hear, finally.

Keep it up (thinking, that is).

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