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Shuttle Atlantis
10-13-2009, 04:59 PM
Okay, I don't mean to put this subject in the wrong place, but I haven't seen a thread about this subject.

Biogeography is the study of the distribution of of biodiversity over space and time. There are many subjects that influence where plants and animals live, how they live, and where they are expected to be in the future. I think that one of the critical elements of having a strong ecosystem anywhere is biodiversity.

The number of different types of organisms is important in a number of ways. Firstly is that it makes places unique. More creatures are more asthetically pleasing than fewer. Second is that more creatures make a location more resilient to destructive forces. A single event is less likely to wipe out all life in an area.

Over the past five hundred years, the number of species on the planet has dropped by nearly a third of what used to be. Guess who is to blame?

Human activity in itself is destructive, but the way we introduce invasive species where they shouldn't be has brought about mass extinction. Garlic mustard, buckthorn, and zebra mussles, among others have infested huge geographic areas of the US. These invasive species are threatening the biodiversity of many ecosystems because they don't have any natural predators to keep their numbers in check.

There are many actions humans have taken which now threatens many ecosystems, but we can and should seek to preserve as many as possible before they are overrun by these species. There are many other matters on this subject, but I was hoping to get some insight from others on what could be done to combat these problems.

links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biogeography

http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/biogeography.htm

Web Rider
10-14-2009, 05:59 PM
If a plant or animal can survive in any region, and multiply, is that man's fault, or nature's? Isn't the natural world all about survival of the fittest? Yes, humans have moved some plants and animals both purposefully and accidentally from many areas to many others. However, man is not responsible for their ability to thrive. If it is not man's place to decide which plants get to go where, then it is equally not man's place to decide which plants deserve to keep existing.

If the system was designed for those plants to never exist there, there would be some way to prevent them from being there. "large bodies of water" do not count, as both animal and plant life have traversed them without the aid of humans. If nature did not design the plants or animals of a certain region to be hearty enough to stave off invading species, then perhaps that says something about what nature desires to happen to them?

Astor
10-14-2009, 06:31 PM
Over the past five hundred years, the number of species on the planet has dropped by nearly a third of what used to be. Guess who is to blame?

Humanity is not solely to blame for all of those extinctions, and although human settlement is largely responsible for many extinctions, I have to agree with Web Rider - nature is harsh.

There are many actions humans have taken which now threatens many ecosystems, but we can and should seek to preserve as many as possible before they are overrun by these species. There are many other matters on this subject, but I was hoping to get some insight from others on what could be done to combat these problems.

In the case of endangered species, there are many efforts across the globe with a view to protecting them - by the 1980s, there were only five Black Robins (a species of bird native to only a few islands in New Zealnd) known to exist - but thanks to the efforts of conservationists, there are now around 250. It's still an endangered species, but the population is on the rise.

Those same conservationists are also trying to help restore the population of the Kakapo, a flightless parrot also native to New Zealand that had been preyed on by many species that had been introduced by arriving Europeans.

Now, I don't think that this is going to solve any of the problems overnight, but I think it's certainly a step in the right direction - but then again, as Web Rider said, it's all about the survival of the fittest.

Jae Onasi
10-15-2009, 12:06 AM
Over the past five hundred years, the number of species on the planet has dropped by nearly a third of what used to be. Guess who is to blame?I would like to know how this 'number of species has dropped by a third in the last 500 years' was determined. First of all, we haven't completely cataloged all the plant and animal species that currently exist--we're still discovering new insects, birds, and plants all the time in remote parts of Africa and South America, and we discover new viruses and bacteria all the time.

Secondly, species are being split and lumped together on a regular basis. For instance, the Orchard Oriole and Baltimore Oriole were considered separate species for a long time, then were lumped together into one species for a few years, and then after further DNA testing, the 2 species were split again. With DNA testing being so new, we've only begun to determine which animals and plants belong with what species.

Thirdly, 500 years ago we'd barely made it to the New World on the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. How in the world could we have cataloged all the species then? One of the bestiaries I consulted only listed 141 insects, plants, and animals. Surely there were more than that in the Middle Ages, no? On top of that, bestiaries from that time period included fanciful creatures like griffons, unicorns, and dragons. Are we to take the creature catalogs from the 1500's seriously?

This alleged statistic you've provided does not make sense with what we know historically and does not line up with what we currently know scientifically. I would not consider this alleged 'fact' accurate at all.

Astor
10-15-2009, 05:24 AM
Secondly, species are being split and lumped together on a regular basis. For instance, the Orchard Oriole and Baltimore Oriole were considered separate species for a long time, then were lumped together into one species for a few years, and then after further DNA testing, the 2 species were split again. With DNA testing being so new, we've only begun to determine which animals and plants belong with what species.

It's true that we're discovering new (or old, as the case may be) species, or reclassifying species all the time - the Coelacanth, for instance, was believed extinct for several million years before live specimens were discovered in 1938.

jonathan7
10-15-2009, 09:01 AM
Over the past five hundred years, the number of species on the planet has dropped by nearly a third of what used to be. Guess who is to blame?

This bio-diversity came about due to evolution; so quite frankly even if humans have caused this massive supposed death of species, in evolutionary terms we are the apex predators and those species which have died out have failed to evolve to survive the selection pressures surrounding them.

This is not put a dampner on looking after the planet, but basically people always strike me as being entirely illogical; if their is no inherent meaning to life, why bother looking after the planet? If everything is going to die, then certain combinations of carbon atoms being "alive" means little to the universe". If nature is all about the survival of the fittest why does the above matter?

mimartin
10-15-2009, 01:08 PM
Guess who is to blame?Just a guess, but Obama? Seems he gets blamed for everything else, or is this a Carter answer? :xp:

ForeverNight
10-15-2009, 01:16 PM
I'm going to go further back and say Wilson Mimartin :xp:

Anyway, you're argument is that "ZOMG!!!!111!11one!!! There are 1/3 as many species as there was 500 years ago!!!!!1111one!1111 Man must be to blame!"

To go back to what Jae said, 500 years ago the world wasn't as explored as it is today (Alright, slight understatement), scientific knowledge was next to witchcraft, and people determined if two creatures were the same species by looks!

I'm not buying it that there are 1/3 as many creatures around today as there were 500 years ago. There are creatures being discovered right now, there are creatures that we thought were the same but are really different and are being separated, right now.

Please, source your claim of the 1/3 and then let's have an actual debate.

Shuttle Atlantis
10-15-2009, 01:50 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity

I suppose that depends upon what kind of world you want to live in. Do you want an ocean full of sharks, which are the fittest creatures? Do you want all oak, hickory, black walnut, maple, and ash forests overrun by garlic mustard?

Whether or not we choose to accept it, humans have already cultivated the majority of the landscapes of which we might consider natural. It is because of humans that all these evasive species were introduced into our ecosystems, so now we have to deal with them if we want to preserve the choice species we have. To save our few ash trees from the emerald ash bore, we are going to treat the bark with a chemical repellant. This is done because we don’t want those trees to die. To prevent oak wilt from claiming the majority of a forest, we had to cut down several trees which would have spread the disease. It is transmitted through the roots, so you can’t let them grow too close together.

If you are going to use the survival of the fittest argument, then does that mean you should let weeds take over your gardens? Garlic mustard is a weed which poisons soil so that seedlings are not allowed to grow. Oak, black walnut, and hickory trees that already exist won’t die because of garlic mustard, but they won’t be able to reproduce. You won’t live to see garlic mustard destroy entire ecosystems, but your children and grandchildren would witness entire American woodlands begin to collapse as trees die and their offspring are not allowed to take their place.

Although I recognize that nature is wild and chaotic, that doesn’t mean it’s a self-correcting system. I would go so far as to say that the natural world can sustain itself indefinitely, so long as you have a balance of life and death. When a plant is consumed by a herbivore, that herbivore would eat everything that grows until nothing is left. The balance is created by the existence of predators.

Having herbivore populations in check is what prevents a plain or forest from being devastated. Once you have trees like California redwoods and tropical palm, they can maintain a system that allows for the death of older trees to fuel the life of newer ones. Unless a devastating event destroys an entire ecosystem, these forests can sustain themselves indefinitely.

Natural disasters frequently destroy pine forests in temperate zones through fire. Tropical palm trees are destroyed by flooding, soil deprivation, disease, and other factors. The Amazon rain forest is not immune to disaster, but it could sustain itself because it has a very diversified assortment of organisms which are suited to endure major disasters. The tropical climate does, however, make the organisms more vulnerable to ‘unlikely’ destructive events. Frosts and drought are much more devastating to rain forest organisms than those in temperate zones.

The problem with human activity isn’t merely that we are destroying trees, but removing them from the system. If you just cut down a tree and left it behind, the organic matter would at least be recycled. When you cut down an area of rain forest, the roots which held the soil in place would be lost. That would result in nutrient-poor soil where massive trees once existed which new organisms could have thrived.

There are some cycles where complete destruction is natural and expected. Fires often destroy American forests, but from the destruction of a fire comes secondary succession, which allows for the ecosystem to return to a form of stability much more quickly than through primary succession.

Human activity has become disruptive to this cycle when we actively started preventing forest fires from happening. The longer that undergrowth is allowed to grow, the more intense fires become when they happen. In preventing forest fires in the last hundred years, we disrupted a natural cycle in these ecosystems. There have been many ‘super fires’ in the last decade or two which have become more extreme than anything nature ever intended. In our unfortunate acts of ‘saving’ these forests, we allowed undergrowth to accumulate. Fires now become so intense that they destroy the seeds which normally would have survived to spur secondary succession.

-------

I know I didn't answer questions given. I'll get back with sources.

jonathan7
10-15-2009, 02:32 PM
I suppose that depends upon what kind of world you want to live in. Do you want an ocean full of sharks, which are the fittest creatures? Do you want all oak, hickory, black walnut, maple, and ash forests overrun by garlic mustard?

You entirely ignore the entire crux of my point, which was it doesn't matter what world we live in, if we are nothing but carbon life forms. It is entirely immaterial it doesn't matter. Bio-diversity doesn't matter, as the entire planet is doomed as in several hundred million years time, the universe will cool and whatever surviving garlic mustard forests are left will be destroyed. As such why does the above matter? Survival of the fittest is the way nature has always worked...

With regards the weeds... Why does it matter? Please provide a reason why I should care about the subject? Why does it matter if the world dies sooner rather than later?

Astor
10-15-2009, 02:33 PM
I suppose that depends upon what kind of world you want to live in. Do you want an ocean full of sharks, which are the fittest creatures? Do you want all oak, hickory, black walnut, maple, and ash forests overrun by garlic mustard?

Sharks would soon die out without anything to eat - so an 'ocean full of sharks' is unlikely at best, and I doubt that all those forests would be destroyed by one plant.

mur'phon
10-15-2009, 02:54 PM
J7: Because I enjoy living, this, combined with the fact that a lot of lifeforms probably has yet to be discovered uses that can benefit me. Therefore, it is in my best interest topreserve as many species as possible.

Shuttle Atlantis
10-15-2009, 04:13 PM
J7: Because I enjoy living, this, combined with the fact that a lot of lifeforms probably has yet to be discovered uses that can benefit me. Therefore, it is in my best interest topreserve as many species as possible.

This is probably the best statement I've heard.

-----

Alright, I’ll admit I just generated that 30% number. I often throw out something exaggerated to get people’s attention before they dismiss it. So disregard that number.

There are statistics that can determine approximately how many species we don’t know of, both which are living and fossils to show which have died off millions of years ago. There are nearly two million cataloged species of organisms in the world today, but determining the total number of unique species is difficult. There are some species, mostly insects, which could put the total number of species by phya into the tens of millions. And obviously there are too many such species that it makes no sense to try and catalog them all, not to mention that the total number is dynamic. It changes each day. Evolution and mutation generate new species that weren’t around a year ago, just as extinction will eventually claim all organisms.

I also want people to disregard the timeline I gave. 500 years only encompasses the introduction of evasive species and the industrial revolution, but human influence began as far back as 100,000 years ago. As hunters and gatherers, humans don't act as part of an ecosystem, as other fauna do. Humans create an inbalance wherever they migrate, overextend the resources of an ecosystem, and migrate to another. Humans truly are freaks of nature because no other organism functions as we do.

For 90,000 years, humans had a direct impact on organisms through hunting and gathering. 10,000 years ago, when agriculture began, humans activity began to have an impact upon ecosystems. That’s what happens when you alter landscapes and cultivate certain species for farms and pastures. Of the millions of different species of plants, animals, and fungi, as few as 50 represent over a quarter of the world’s biomass.

From wikipedia:

Most of the species extinctions from 1000 AD to 2000 AD are due to human activities, in particular destruction of plant and animal habitats. Raised rates of extinction are being driven by human consumption of organic resources, especially related to tropical forest destruction. While most of the species that are becoming extinct are not food species, their biomass is converted into human food when their habitat is transformed into pasture, cropland, and orchards. It is estimated that more than a third of the Earth's biomass is tied up in only the few species that represent humans, livestock and crops. Because an ecosystem decreases in stability as its species are made extinct, these studies warn that the global ecosystem is destined for collapse if it is further reduced in complexity.



http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/eldredge2.html

Fossils, the remains of trees, skeletal remains, and other hard evidence don’t lie. You can approximate the total number of species by measuring the number of fossil organisms you find. If you have 1000 samples and you account for 250 different organisms, then you can approximate the number of organism there are by the frequency you draw a new specimen. If you drew 1000 more samples and accounted for 150 additional specimens, then you could approximate how diverse the ecosystem is, despite not accounting for every single unique specimen.

It is through fossil records that biologists could determine that there were five major extinction periods in history, where a large fraction of the world’s organisms died off as a result of a single event. 245 million years ago, about 50% of all organisms were lost.

65 million years ago, almost 90% of all creatures were wiped out, but that 10% evolved and gave way to the organisms we have today. What we have today are far more diverse than it was before the last mass extinction, but there are far fewer today than there were 100,000 years ago. We are at what may be called the world's sixth mass extinction period.

Obviously that doesn't mean the world won't eventually return to normal, but it will happen long after we're gone. I care about preserving the world's biodiversity because it's in our best interests for these ecosystems not to collapse.

*****

So if we keep finding more oil reserves that haven’t yet been tapped, that means we don’t have to concern ourselves about energy? Are you saying that if we keep finding new sources of oil, we don’t have to take peak capacity or growing demand into consideration?

Yes, we are always finding new species. Why? Well aside from not knowing of certain creatures in an environment, some are around today which weren’t around only a hundred years ago. The more rapidly they reproduce, the faster the rate of change in their DNA, the more quickly they mutate. It’s because they reproduce so quickly that insects represent the greatest number of cataloged organisms in the world.

If you cannot determine the total number of unique species that exist, then it would be more appropriate to measure the rate of which new organisms are found and the rate at which they are being lost. Based on the species-area theory, as many as 140,000 species are lost each year.

This is an ecologically unsustainable rate, as a much smaller number of new species come into being each year. And this rate of loss is greater now than any time in human history. Since agriculture started being practiced, the rate of extinction had increased by nearly a hundred fold. Some estimate that number to be a thousand times greater than what would have happened naturally.

http://www.bgci.org/worldwide/article/394/

ForeverNight
10-15-2009, 05:20 PM
Alright, I’ll admit I just generated that 30% number. I often throw out something exaggerated to get people’s attention before they dismiss it. So disregard that number.

Alright, I'll be sure to not listen to any of your statistics without a source being given. :thumbsup:

There are statistics that can determine approximately how many species we don’t know of, both which are living and fossils to show which have died off millions of years ago.

So, we can figure out how many things there are that we don't know? When did this happen? Does this mean that there are only 400 species left to discover?

humans create an inbalance wherever they migrate, overextend the resources of an ecosystem, and migrate to another. Humans truly are freaks of nature because no other organism functions as we do.

You've obviously never seen the Matrix. Anyway, we are the greatest predator on this planet and we can and do over hunt, you know why? There's nothing that hunts man except man. And with this approach of "WAR == BAD", there's going to be less and less of man killed, thus more of them.

Of the millions of different species of plants, animals, and fungi, as few as 50 represent over a quarter of the world’s biomass.

Ooookkkkaaayyy, so half the organisms are small and the other half are large?

Raised rates of extinction

Do we have a recorded rate of extinction from before 1000 AD? :ugh:

It is through fossil records that biologists could determine that there were five major extinction periods in history, where a large fraction of the world’s organisms died off as a result of a single event. 245 million years ago, about 50% of all organisms were lost.

65 million years ago, almost 90% of all creatures were wiped out, but that 10% evolved and gave way to the organisms we have today. What we have today are far more diverse than it was before the last mass extinction, but there are far fewer today than there were 100,000 years ago. We are at what may be called the world's sixth mass extinction period.

Sounds like Man is actually pretty damn good compared to nature of this is what nature does to creatures. We have 5% of the original creatures evolved here.... whereas Man's killed off........ what 20%?

If you cannot determine the total number of unique species that exist, then it would be more appropriate to measure the rate of which new organisms are found and the rate at which they are being lost. Based on the species-area theory, as many as 140,000 species are lost each year.

But what is the rate they are being made? If it's 140001 each year than its a net gain! And that's the max, what's the normal estimate?

This is an ecologically unsustainable rate, as a much smaller number of new species come into being each year. And this rate of loss is greater now than any time in human history. Since agriculture started being practiced, the rate of extinction had increased by nearly a hundred fold. Some estimate that number to be a thousand times greater than what would have happened naturally.

So, should I disregard that hundredfold comment and assume it's actually gotten only ten times as worse? And don't get me started on that loss rate, find what the gain rate is and then find the difference. Then start making comments about ecologically unsustainable rates.

Shuttle Atlantis
10-15-2009, 05:47 PM
Alright, I'll be sure to not listen to any of your statistics without a source being given. :thumbsup:

I admitted it right away. Surely that means something. However, 30% may not be an overly exaggerated for the number of lost species in the last 100,000 years. (yes, I know you'll want sources to confirm this)


So, we can figure out how many things there are that we don't know?

It would be more accurate to say we can estimate what species we have yet to discover or catalog. How do you think biologists can estimate an ecosystem's diversity without fully accounting for all the specimens in the population?


You've obviously never seen the Matrix. Anyway, we are the greatest predator on this planet and we can and do over hunt, you know why? There's nothing that hunts man except man. And with this approach of "WAR == BAD", there's going to be less and less of man killed, thus more of them.

Viruses aren't organisms... an error by Hugo Weaving. And no, I didn't base my statement on that part of the Matrix. No, it doesn't involve us wiping each other out.


Ooookkkkaaayyy, so half the organisms are small and the other half are large?

No, I'm saying that there are large populations of a select few species in the world.


Do we have a recorded rate of extinction from before 1000 AD? :ugh:

No. We can only estimate that rate with fossil records.


Sounds like Man is actually pretty damn good compared to nature of this is what nature does to creatures. We have 5% of the original creatures evolved here.... whereas Man's killed off........ what 20%?

Humans are only a single organism. And look at the impact that we've had on a global scale. If god gave us responsibility of this world, then I'm deeply ashamed at how poorly we've treated it. For our own sake, we should not dismiss this. We don't recognize most losses until it's too late to do anything about them.


But what is the rate they are being made? If it's 140001 each year than its a net gain! And that's the max, what's the normal estimate?

I would have answered that, had you asked. Please don't harass me next time. I'll get back to you, but I assure you that far fewer species are emerging than are being lost.

Totenkopf
10-15-2009, 07:21 PM
I admitted it right away. Surely that means something. However, 30% may not be an overly exaggerated for the number of lost species in the last 100,000 years. (yes, I know you'll want sources to confirm this)

Hmm.....would you have "admitted it right away" if not called on it?



Just a guess, but Obama? Seems he gets blamed for everything else......:xp:

Naw, more likely Bush. Obama has only been sandbagged by the last 8 years of Bush-Cheney. How soon people forget. :rolleyes: :xp:

jonathan7
10-15-2009, 07:42 PM
J7: Because I enjoy living, this, combined with the fact that a lot of lifeforms probably has yet to be discovered uses that can benefit me. Therefore, it is in my best interest topreserve as many species as possible.

This is probably the best statement I've heard.

It still doesn't fundamentally address my point - which is fine you give a monkeys (forgive the pun :p) but why should anyone else? Furthermore this still doesn't address this; which is if everything is going to die anyway, why bother? Define "enjoy", I may enjoy shooting every animal that I see does this mean it's ok for me to do this? I also enjoy killing lifeforms which haven't been discovered yet; why shouldn't I kill them?

Jae Onasi
10-15-2009, 09:08 PM
I admitted it right away. Surely that means something.Yep, that means we've learned right away that we can't ever trust any uncited statistics that you post. Do not spam this forum with false information ever again. This is a very educated community that knows how to research, and you will be called on made-up statistics and infracted.

jonathan7
10-15-2009, 09:38 PM
Just to further Jae's statement inventing statistics to support one's argument stinks of having an agenda and propagating propaganda - which is basically what the former is doing.

This may or may not have been your intention Shuttle Atlantis, but always be aware about how your actions maybe perceived, here would be my perception and thoughts of events thus far;

Here is the definition of Propaganda curtsey of Wikipedia;

Propaganda is communication aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda)

As such one has to think that being called out on your false statistics merely shows that you have a specific agenda in your posts, and rather than wanting to discuss or debate the issue, all you want to do is influence others. Are you wanting to discuss this or just get people to take up your just cause (incidentally I would assert the billion or so people currently starving is a more pressing concern than bio-diversity, though I have being playing devils advocate for the most part in this thread).

Observe;

Alright, I’ll admit I just generated that 30% number. I often throw out something exaggerated to get people’s attention before they dismiss it. So disregard that number.

Exaggerating aims at causing an emotional reaction due to the "extreme" nature of the situation so thus influencing others through misuse of facts. If your argument is true then it should hold its own weight by support of actual data. Furthermore posting fake statistics seems to indicate, at least to me, of not knowing the subject you are discussing very well. Having come to a view point through not actually assessing the arguments. This often also makes me think that you will not change your mind due to it have being made up on something other than logic.

While I continue with my perception of events, it seems to me there is further evidence to me of the above being "propaganda" by you entirely avoiding answering my questions, while pressing forward with your polemic and it was left to murph'on to post a reply to my points. As per the rules you never have to reply to questions, but you should be aware of Rule 5 from the Forum Rules (http://www.lucasforums.com/showthread.php?t=175866), which reads;

5. Repeatedly posting the same thing: This refers specifically to repeating the same point over and over in a way that becomes irritating, without an attempt to clarify a point or to contribute to the conversation. This should not be construed to mean that you are required to answer someone else's questions. If it's the same argument and doesn't contribute to the discussion, the post may be edited or deleted, and the poster may receive an infraction.

Keep in mind that rule, as by not answering people's questions and continuing to post the same thing - you will come into conflict with the above rule. The above also always reminded my of this...

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.

That concludes my mod thoughts with regards the matter of invention of statistics...

vanir
10-16-2009, 02:45 AM
There's nothing that hunts man except man.
Polar bears. I know, Mr Irrelevant here but still, I always thought it was funky the Polar Bear is cited as the only predator which specifically seeks out humans as a prey item. It is part of the reason they are considered so very dangerous to man, we're not just targets of opportunity and they will enter communities to single out individuals in the open, herd them and eat them. Not even the big cats go quite so far, to all other man-eating species I often read we are targets of opportunity, mistaken identity with a regular prey item (like a swimmer for a seal), or attacks are out of curiosity (babies mouth things to identify them) or for territorial reasons (other primates and Grizzlies).
Polar Bears though, hunt man. Watched some great filmwork about it, some Finnish community in the arctic has a local law, you can be arrested for failing to carry a high powered rifle when out of doors, all people must carry high powered rifles whenever out of doors (ex-WW2 rifles are available for hire), whilst primary schoolers are taught Bear survival techniques in the class room.

Lucky the Ice Age ended or we'd be on the other end of the stick over the whole extinction thing, huh. Bet we'd be arguing for species diversity then as the only logical explanation and choice, anything else would be unconscionable and full of scientific errors.

My take on this argument is...hot chicks probably won't sleep with me if we go the natural selection road. But they might if diversity is what it's all about.

Yep, that seals it for me. Plus the fact we have an anthropic argument here. Natural is whatever we say it is at this stage of our species and technological evolution. So let's make the good choices, yes?

Shuttle Atlantis
10-16-2009, 02:59 PM
I admitted the truth with the hope that I could withdraw something that I wish I had not presented. Should I have just said nothing at all after that, or would you have prefered I just not said anything? I’m not trying to pass myself off as Honest Abe by coming clean, but why are people using that admission as an excuse to dismiss everything else I said? Even ‘W’ never did that.

Yes, I had an agenda. No, it wasn’t what you’re all thinking. I wasn’t aiming to win an argument by lying. I simply wanted to get a better perspective on the people who I had to convince. I just wanted to see whether the interest here was in exhanging ideas, or winning the argument. I didn’t exactly anticipate that most would focus solely on that little detail and disregard everything else. And clearly I shouldn’t have made such a bad first impression.

It was foolish of me to try something like this, but I’m not a fanatic. And I expect no one to believe me unless I have credible sources. That’s why I included sources for my other claims.

I don’t expect anyone to believe me, but would you at least give me a chance to earn your trust? Obviously I’m not going to make a convincing argument if I don’t address people’s concerns, which is why I won’t try something like this again. I’m not in this to create conflict; I wanted to inform people of the severity of this issue.

*****

To start, I’ll try to answer a question.

This bio-diversity came about due to evolution; so quite frankly even if humans have caused this massive supposed death of species, in evolutionary terms we are the apex predators and those species which have died out have failed to evolve to survive the selection pressures surrounding them.

Humans are freaks of nature. We don’t integrate with natural ecosystems like other organism do. We set ourselves apart from everything else in nature because we can and do alter the world to suite our needs. It’s because we alter other ecosystems that we cause so much damage. Most extinctions are caused because their ecosystem had been disrupted in some way. From the clearing of rainforests to the introduction of garlic mustard, you can drastically alter an ecosystem into something inhospitible for native organisms.


This is not put a dampner on looking after the planet, but basically people always strike me as being entirely illogical; if their is no inherent meaning to life, why bother looking after the planet?

That’s a question you should ask yourself because I don’t know your values. And I can’t answer the question if I believe there’s a meaning to life.

If everything is going to die, then certain combinations of carbon atoms being "alive" means little to the universe". If nature is all about the survival of the fittest why does the above matter?

What if I don’t think life is pointless? I’m sorry, but I couldn’t answer your question under the conditions you gave.

I suppose that if humans are the fittest creatures, then there really is nothing to stop them. I stated that a more diverse ecosystem is more resiliant to distaster or change. If you want to reduce the risk of crop blights, if you value certain species which are threatened, or if you simply don’t want an artificial world. Any of these are reasons, but I don’t know exactly what you value. (God’s creations, economic stability, medical research, cloning, value of life, ext.)

If you still want me to answer your question, you must first answer me your values. Is that unreasonable?

*****

Alright, I'll be sure to not listen to any of your statistics without a source being given.

I’ll take that advice. Here are the true statistics.

“Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, a large number of biologically classified species have gone extinct due to the actions of humans. This includes 83 species of mammals, 113 species of birds, 23 species of amphibians and reptiles, 23 species of fish, about 100 species of invertebrates, and over 350 species of plants.”

http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/9h.html

Only about 700 species. That’s how many official extinctions have been determined since biology was becoming a more developed science. From the same source is an estimate of just how significantly extinction has risen.

“Scientists can only estimate the number of unclassified species that have gone extinct. Using various methods of extrapolation, biologists estimate that in 1991 between 4000 to 50,000 unclassified species became extinct, mainly in the tropics, due to our activities. This rate of extinction is some 1,000 to 10,000 times greater than the natural rate of species extinction (2 - 10 species per year) prior to the appearance of human beings.”

How did scientists come up with such numbers? Rates of extinction from before we even began recording any of it? How could they extrapolate such numbers?

They use a mathmatical method to determine about how many unique species exist within a given unit of land and estimate that so many are lost when the ecosystem is drastically impacted. Many species in the Amazon aren’t uniformally spread throughout the entire forest. There are certain species indiginous only to a few square kilometers of forest. If you only destroyed that 1% of forest, it stands to reason that there would be several unique species that only lived in that given area.

Biologists assume that if there are hundreds of thousands of such species, you can approximate the extinction of creatures you haven’t even identified. I don’t really know how exactly they came to such figures today, or even how they determined past biodiversity; but it is accepted within the scientific community that Earth’s biodiversity is much greater today than it was 65 million years ago. And 65 million years ago was greater than the mass extinction 250 million years ago.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity

*****

In regards to rates of loss/recovery. There is a net negative effect between new species and extinct species.

“Scientists estimate there are 10 to 30 million plant and animal species on the planet, most of them unidentified. Each year as many as 50,000 species disappear. Most die off, Tilman says, because of human activity. "We take natural habitats convert them to agriculture, to suburbia, to roads, to monoculture forestry. We fish the oceans so heavily we literally have these trolling nets that scrape the bottom of the ocean clean," he says.”

http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2005/01/31_olsond_biodiversity/

“New plant and animal species are emerging, University of Minnesota ecology professor David Tilman says, but not nearly fast enough to make up for the toll caused by human activity.”

From another source. This also states how many plant species are cultivated. A loss of any of those does impact the industries which harvest and process these primary goods. That means biodiversity has an impact on world economies.

http://www.bgci.org/worldwide/article/394/

“The extreme depletion of genetic variation in individual plant species causes them to become more vulnerable to extinction, according to the paper. Genetically diverse traits in plants can often enable them to grow in harsher environments, for example, or survive the competition with weedy species. About 30 percent of the world's 300,000 plant species are in cultivation now, "which provides a good start for conservation," according to Raven.”

http://www.actionbioscience.org/newfrontiers/eldredge2.html

This article states that 12 of the 13 major fisheries in the world are severely depleted. 42% of the threatened plants and animals in the US are in jeapardy because of invasive species. As many as 90% of all species in the world may be concentrated on the equator, but it is not simply a matter of sheer number of unique species, but the number within the populations. Fisheries are a significant part of some economies, which is why it would make sense to be concerned about whether the ecosystem in those areas aren’t destroyed by overfishing.

*****

“About 40 percent of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria, are now listed as threatened species with extinction - a total of 16,119 species.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity


My concern isn’t for the millions of insect species on the equator, but those which are within our local environments. If we have a greater variety of trees and fauna, the ecosystems in which they inhabit would be more resilient to change. I don’t want to see the black walnut and the ash tree go the way of the American elm. I don’t want to see invasive species take over. Adult trees are not at risk by such plants as garlic mustard, but their offspring can’t comete with such exotic species. It’s not that they are more fit, but because there are no natural forces which can keep their populations in check. If nature can’t suppress their growth, it’s on us.

“A wide range of industrial materials are derived directly from biological resources. These include building materials, fibers, dyes, resirubber and oil. There is enormous potential for further research into sustainably utilizing materials from a wider diversity of organisms. In addition, biodivesity and the ecosystem goods and services it provides are considered to be fundamental to healthy economic systems. The degree to which biodiversity supports business varies between regions and between economic sectors, however the importance of biodiversity to issues of resource security (water quantity and quality, timber, paper and fibre, food and medicinal resources etc) are increasingly recognized as universal.[36][37][38] As a result, the loss of biodiversity is increasingly recognized as a significant risk factor in business development and a threat to long term economic sustainability. A number of case studies recently compiled by the World Resources Institute demonstrate some of these risks as identified by specific industries.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity

Are you sure you’ll be alright with it?

Arcesious
10-16-2009, 05:19 PM
I call dibs on the position of devil's advocate here. :p

So... how are we going to rebalance the seesaw of diversity then? It sounds like we've messed things up pretty bad. It looks like the current attempts to help of the environment aren't enough as a whole to be truly effective vs our industrial destructiveness. ('industrial destructiveness' is not an oxymoron due to the context of the sentence)

From what I've learned in my ecology class this semester, the more complex of organisms reproduce and speciate slower than less complex organisms. EX: a bacteria duplicates itself in mere minutes, whilst a human takes nine months.

So - bacteria, unicellular organisms, small insects, etc, etc, will speciate faster into new species because they reproduce faster.

It would be irrational to expect, say, polar bears, to be able to speciate to survive, much less thrive, in the harsher conditions they are experiencing in recent times than it would be for a organism that reproduces and matures faster. Speciation is also sped up by having a large population.

Endangered species have small populations. The only way they'll survive to thrive later is by lots of intervention and luck. I don't think that humanity as a whole would care enough to focus attention of preserving species at an effective level.

Going away from the devil's advocate position:

You (paraphrasing) said that invasive species 'spread like wildfire', yes? Well, how about instead of slowing them down and trying to get rid of them... We help them speed up?

Now just wait a second though. That's not my whole idea... Something else could be helpful - our masterful ability to harm the environment. When an organism faces a challenge in its environment, and it can reproduce fast, it can eventually speciate to adapt to the challenge.

For example - antibiotics. A challenge for viruses to adapt to. Tons of times, viruses have evolved to resist antibiotics. In other words - they speciated.

What if we do the same sort of thing towards invasive species? Not trying to kill them off, but providing them a challenge to speciate to?

And not just one challenge, but many challenges. Also, introducing new resources into the environment may also help trigger speciation.

Basically, I'm saying that we should try to influence invasive species, as well as non-invasive species, to speciate (thus forming new species and increasing diversity) as fast as possible to rebalance the diversity seesaw.

I'm not a biologist or anything, so I try to approach every problem Sun Tzu style. Turn your greatest weakness into your greatest strength, or make your problem become your solution.

Web Rider
10-16-2009, 08:14 PM
And here is a good example of your proposition.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2000/killeralgae.shtml

Short story for those of you who can't read: Humans created this fish-tank algae, it got into the ocean, and is wreaking havok because it's nearly indestructible, incredibly toxic to marine-life, and spreads faster than a jack-rabbit on a hot tin roof. Conclusion: Possibly introduce another exotic species that actually will eat it to combat it.

As a secondary suggestion: To heck with natural diversity. Lets make our own diversity! Lets genetically engineer everything and anything we can imagine and see what happens.

Jae Onasi
10-16-2009, 09:46 PM
For example - antibiotics. A challenge for viruses to adapt to. Tons of times, viruses have evolved to resist antibiotics. In other words - they speciated.
Just to clarify so that misinformation doesn't get passed around: antibiotics are completely ineffective against viruses. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria and certain spirochetes. This is why doctors won't prescribe antibiotics for you if you have a cold or the flu. The only time you would be prescribed an antibiotic in those situations is if you have a secondary bacterial infection on top of the virus.

Antivirals are the medications used to fight viruses.

"Tons of times" is a bit of an exaggeration. Effective antibiotics have only been in existence for the last 75 years or so, and while we have a sizeable number of antibiotics, I wouldn't call that number 'tons'.

I certainly don't want to encourage pathogens to develop into something stronger, Arcesious. You obviously have never seen someone die from a bacterial infection, or you wouldn't be saying something ridiculous like this. We're already having a difficult enough time fighting drug-resistant pathogens like MRSA as it is. We hardly need to make it more difficult.

Arcesious
10-16-2009, 10:08 PM
And here is a good example of your proposition.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2000/killeralgae.shtml

Short story for those of you who can't read: Humans created this fish-tank algae, it got into the ocean, and is wreaking havok because it's nearly indestructible, incredibly toxic to marine-life, and spreads faster than a jack-rabbit on a hot tin roof. Conclusion: Possibly introduce another exotic species that actually will eat it to combat it.

As a secondary suggestion: To heck with natural diversity. Lets make our own diversity! Lets genetically engineer everything and anything we can imagine and see what happens.

Are you being sarcastic or agreeing with me? I dunno, but I admit that my idea of dealing with invasive species is kind of crazy and probably in the long term wouldn't turn out good... Unless if we kept things under as strict as control as possible.

Just to clarify so that misinformation doesn't get passed around: antibiotics are completely ineffective against viruses. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria and certain spirochetes. This is why doctors won't prescribe antibiotics for you if you have a cold or the flu. The only time you would be prescribed an antibiotic in those situations is if you have a secondary bacterial infection on top of the virus.

Antivirals are the medications used to fight viruses.

"Tons of times" is a bit of an exaggeration. Effective antibiotics have only been in existence for the last 75 years or so, and while we have a sizeable number of antibiotics, I wouldn't call that number 'tons'.

I certainly don't want to encourage pathogens to develop into something stronger, Arcesious. You obviously have never seen someone die from a bacterial infection, or you wouldn't be saying something ridiculous like this. We're already having a difficult enough time fighting drug-resistant pathogens like MRSA as it is. We hardly need to make it more difficult.

My bad... I got confused about antibiotics/antibacterials/antivirals.

I should have used a better example than viruses. No, we shouldn't help viruses speciate faster. We're talking about helping invasive plants and animals speciate. (under our guidance and control)

jonathan7
10-16-2009, 10:26 PM
Are you being sarcastic or agreeing with me? I dunno, but I admit that my idea of dealing with invasive species is kind of crazy and probably in the long term wouldn't turn out good... Unless if we kept things under as strict as control as possible.

Has Jurassic Park not taught you anything?

http://www.bestdestiny.org/cryhavoc/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/jeff_goldblum.jpg

Life will find a way!! :carms:

Jae Onasi
10-16-2009, 10:41 PM
I don’t expect anyone to believe me, but would you at least give me a chance to earn your trust? Obviously I’m not going to make a convincing argument if I don’t address people’s concerns, which is why I won’t try something like this again. I’m not in this to create conflict; I wanted to inform people of the severity of this issue.And here you thought you were being so brilliant in yet another one of your ban evasions. How about you try not posting here with yet another sockpuppet account if you're trying not to create conflict? You've spammed this forum quite enough times with your baseless rants about biogeography. The staff is quite tired of your re-registrations after multiple bans, and a complaint is being filed with your ISP. Have a nice weekend.

Arcesious
10-16-2009, 11:13 PM
Has Jurassic Park not taught you anything?

~snip picture~

Life will find a way!! :carms:

Ironically, I just watched one of the Jurassic park movies a few hours ago... I wouldn't enjoy a T-Rex breaking into my house while I'm sleeping, that's for sure.

I think you're right, though. Thinking about all that Earth has been through - all the extinctions and changes, life always finds a way.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do something. We could leave it up to nature... But then we are part of nature, aren't we? Perhaps we are that which will find a way?

Q
10-17-2009, 02:09 AM
http://360digest.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/whack-a-mole.jpg

Like I said; a fried chicken short of a church picnic.

Web Rider
10-17-2009, 10:27 AM
Are you being sarcastic or agreeing with me? I dunno, but I admit that my idea of dealing with invasive species is kind of crazy and probably in the long term wouldn't turn out good... Unless if we kept things under as strict as control as possible.

Actually, I was just pointing out that it's been done before. We bring in A, A gets out of control, then B, B kills A, then B gets out of control, then we bring in more A and some C, which just makes the whole situation worse.

I was also being sarcastic but mostly towards the article, as I find the entire situation hilariously lame, I mean, fish tank algae, really?

mur'phon
10-18-2009, 01:51 PM
J7: if you are playing devils advocate on this one, having me on *your* side is probably not a good thing :xp:

It still doesn't fundamentally address my point - which is fine you give a monkeys (forgive the pun ) but why should anyone else?

Just to be clear, I'm not arguing that everyone should care. Some should care because reducing biodiversity risks harming themselves either materially ( for instance: one of those lifeforms might be used as a cure for an ilness you have) or non-materially (as an example: reducing biodiversity makes you feel bad or make someone you care about dislike you).
Should anyone else care? Pherhaps, pherhaps not, depends on who "anyone else" is.

Furthermore this still doesn't address this; which is if everything is going to die anyway, why bother?

Why bother playing TSL? Because it's enjoyable.
Why bother living? Same reason.

Define "enjoy", I may enjoy shooting every animal that I see does this mean it's ok for me to do this?

Not sure what you mean by *okay*. If you believe the satisfaction you get from shooting them outweights the consequences of doing so, it's okay in the sence that I'd argue you'd have no choice but to do so. Not sure if that answers your question.

I also enjoy killing lifeforms which haven't been discovered yet; why shouldn't I kill them?

Because I know your name, and will hunt you down if you try :P
Seriously though, asuming enjoiment is the only factor people use to judge, then yes, you should kill them. If we take everything else into consideration, the answer might still be yes, but that'd depend on the person and the situation they where in.