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Evolution and Environmentalism

Joan Marie Shields jshields at taurus.oac.uci.edu
Wed Sep 3 11:38:54 EST 1997

Dylan NICHOLSON <dnich at cat.cs.mu.OZ.AU> 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.

I think you're making two very unstable assumptions here:

1. That we can survive at the expense of every other species on Earth - 
wrong, other species ARE some of our most important resources.  Can we 
make everything we need from inorganic components?  Perhaps, although 
the quality and the qualitity we need are beyond our present and forseeable
future technology.  The amount of energy and equipment it would take to 
produce the necessary amino acids - even the oxygen that we breath - would
be enormous.  We would have to reproduce the activity of plants and animals,
do you have any idea what the energy requirements would be to do that?

2. That humans are the most powerful species.  Personally, I'd say we've
got competition, especially if you use the ability to survive as a basis.
Rats and cockroaches are pretty adaptable - not to mention microorganisms
like bacteria, viruses, parasitic protozoa, fungus, algae, etc.  Hey,
how many times have we tried to beat back mosquitos?  There are a whole 
slew of drug resistant microbes that cause diseases out there - and their
ranks are growing.  Sure, we come up with new drugs but they're becoming
immune to them faster than we can keep up.  Sure, we now have a possible
means of defeating those mechanisms but will the bacteria stand still long
enough for us to employ them?  Kind of like demanding a charging bear
stand still so you can load your musket and shoot him.  Not likely.

We, like it or not, are an integral part of the ecosystem - along with
birds and blue whales and earthworms.  To destroy it means we destroy
ourselves.  Kind of like ripping your body to shreds and expecting to 
live very long - hell, don't really need this liver, takes up too much
space and besides, we can build a machine to replace it.  

Joan Shields       jshields at uci.edu       http://www.ags.uci.edu/~jshields
University of California - Irvine                            
School of Social Ecology   Department of Environmental Analysis and Design
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