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Fri Feb 28, 2014, 06:25 PM

The Sixth Extinction: Elizabeth Kolbert

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Reply The Sixth Extinction: Elizabeth Kolbert (Original post)
RainDog Feb 2014 OP
rrneck Feb 2014 #1
RainDog Feb 2014 #2
rrneck Feb 2014 #4
RainDog Feb 2014 #6
rrneck Feb 2014 #7
RainDog Feb 2014 #8
rrneck Mar 2014 #14
RainDog Feb 2014 #9
rwsanders Feb 2014 #3
rrneck Feb 2014 #5
rwsanders Mar 2014 #10
ErikJ Mar 2014 #11
ReRe Mar 2014 #12
RVN VET Mar 2014 #13
RainDog Mar 2014 #16
DhhD Mar 2014 #15
G_j Apr 2014 #17

Response to RainDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 06:35 PM

1. Just finished the audiobook.

Buy it, read it, believe it.

Good post. Thanks.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 06:38 PM

2. anything that struck you that wasn't mentioned here?

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Response to RainDog (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 07:07 PM

4. Well,

the book is basically a narrative about how various species have gone extinct and our contribution to some of those extinctions. It's accurate, interesting and readable with bags of solid information. It's an interesting narrative, but not surprising for anyone aware of the issue. But throughout the book, she repeats over and over that every species that went extinct wasn't doing anything wrong. They were doing what they had evolved to do. At the end of the book she makes the point that of all the species that have existed, humans are the only species that can reflect on what we do and the impact we have of the world around us.

We didn't evolve to run fast or fly high. We evolved to be an agent of change and so far the change we are bringing about is a sixth mass extinction event. As George Carlin once said, "Maybe the planet needed Styrofoam." The irony is that if we don't use the skill-set that has allowed us to dominate and then change the planet to change ourselves, we are probably doomed as a species.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 07:26 PM

6. LOL...nervously

about the Carlin.

Did you ever read Jared Diamond's book, Collapse? That one started a conversation for a lot of people. Hopefully this book will too. I've wanted to read it since I heard about it, but haven't read this one yet.

But, beyond our capacity to keep pace with our ability to change culture - we have some maladaptive ways in place now but we also have models in our past and in the here and now that correct some of that.

Of course, it could come out of our American ideology of the middle class as the bulwark of decency (which was a Victorian idea, fwiw), and a way that GB redistributed some wealth before democratic socialism was implemented in other places. Middle class families with wealth and aristocratic families with sons and large estates intermarried. The husbands got money to pay for the upkeep of their ancestral homes and the middle class families got booted up a notch on the economic food chain.

anyway, when I read about how maladaptive it is for humans to either have far, far too much or far, far too little - in terms of their mental well being - I have to think that our primate heritage of understanding fairness can help us overcome our primate heritage of hoarding b/c of fear.

and when I read about how other nations with democracies have better outcomes for their societies by tax policies that spread the wealth around...it seems like our existential fear of annihilation, from the cold war era, is sort of what has led to our current mess.

Because I know that, when humans exist in smaller communities, they make the community's survival (sharing) an important feature of remaining in the community. people would be ostracized and trying to fend for themselves means they weren't the best at passing along multiples of their genes... and, in my whacked out opinion, one reason for the French Rev. etc. is because the pattern of incest among royals (they marry cousins, but, for the purpose of maintaining property, royals in Europe have long intermarried...

ergo... the ultimate outcome of libertarianism is incest, as in some other cultures, like the Incas and Egyptians. LOL. I'm joking, but not, too.

anyway, all to say - we can't have an international conversation about this when a few are controlling the conversation and the wealth.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #6)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 07:49 PM

7. Collapse is very good. I recommend it.

I tried to listen to one of Diamond's TED talks. He's a much better writer than lecturer. While Haidt and Pinker are doing some pretty interesting stuff, one of the most important books I've seen lately is The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow. It could be because it's very readable and even a mathametical dunce like me can almost keep up with what he's talking about. But it seems that the basic thrust of the book is that humans are constantly tripped up by our inability to understand random events and a large part of that reason is our inability to select proper datasets.

The world is just so fucking big. As I recall, as late as the mid twentieth century most agriculture was still being done with horses and mules. A large part of Germany's blitzkrieg was supported with horses. It just hasn't been that long since human muscle was still the predominate way we got things done around here. That's part of the point of Kolberg's book. It's not just climate change, it's the rate of change. We've spent the last seven thousand years working on the world around us, maybe we should spend the next seven thousand working on the world within.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 08:01 PM

8. I've read some of that one.

I remember it - it's been out a while - there are quite a few people doing really good science writing for the general public.

What I see as the future of conservatism - as a way for them to reframe themselves so that they don't stray from the fundamentals of their mindset, but adapt to reality, is through the ideas of community and tradition. That's what one of them is already doing.

http://www.intercollegiatereview.com/index.php/2014/02/27/the-homeless-modern/

In her book The Need for Roots, the French writer Simone Weil points to one particular lacuna in modern democracy’s theoretical self-understanding. She argues that “to be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul…. A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active, and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future.” If this is the case, then a society characterized by hypermobility, a society that seems to take a sort of satisfaction in its own deracination, would be ill-equipped to fulfill a central human need. According to Weil, the modern condition of rootlessness is not merely geographical or even cultural but spiritual as well. Writing of mid-twentieth-century France, but sounding as if she could be writing to twenty-first-century Americans, Weil describes “a culture very strongly directed towards and influenced by technical science, very strongly tinged with pragmatism, extremely broken up by specialization, entirely deprived both of contact with this world and, at the same time, of any window opening to the world beyond.” Human beings have a need for geographical roots in a particular place embodying particular traditions, habits, and practices. But equally, humans require roots in a transcendent world, a world of spirit, a world of moral truth. In short, the uprootedness of the modern world is both spiritual and geographic.


Weil was an important thinker for conservatism in the 1960s - so they can even call it a return to their roots as they leave the science deniers with no party to stand for them.

...but that's what we need - conservatism that includes the idea of actual conservation of our earth. They can also appeal to the religious right, tho, with the idea that god made humans caretakers of the earth and they have been sinful to not create govt. policies that respect that command from god.

anyway, I can live with that conservatism, because it has the capacity to be humane by extending the idea of group to community. Of course, this could also end up as gated communities with the riff raff buzzed in to deliver the escargot pizzas, too. Republicans need to call upon Teddy Roosevelt's legacy as their totem, not Hayak.

but, yeah, it's hard to address problems this big b/c the scale is so large - at a more reasonable level of state, not nation state - we have to deal with who finances campaigns - and vested interests in say, oil and gas are not gonna want to talk about changes.

I don't know if we have the capacity to change before something so ground shifting happens that we cannot change - i.e. it's forced upon us, with all the human misery that would include.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #8)

Sat Mar 1, 2014, 11:44 AM

14. I agree.

It'll be a tough row to hoe. I don't know if we can expand our sense of tribalism to include enough people to make it work. And and get it done in time before it's too late.

This hyperpartisanship and over emphasis on ideology as a product to be consumed keeps cropping up in my thinking. It's starting to look like the basic tools for a set of values, encoded in our brains at birth, has become a battleground with liberals claiming one set and conservatives another.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 08:04 PM

9. oh, and from the Dem. Now show

One of my favorite things she said was that we had recreated pangaea, when all species existed in one land mass, by our explorations and trading.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 06:54 PM

3. Don't think I could make it through it. For some reason endangered species issues really push...

my buttons.
The wolf thing out west is one of them, and the goofs in FL that feel they have the "right" to drive a boat fast and have to have a dock right outside their back door.

Reminds me of a verse you won't hear a right winger quote:

Isaiah 5:8
Woe to you who add house to house
and join field to field
till no space is left
and you live alone in the land.

I've heard one try to explain it away as a wealthy person adding houses and fields for themselves. But I don't think wealth worked that way so far back. Houses and fields required servants and didn't leave one "alone". Or family spread out and inhabited those places.
To me this is clearly showing how people would force other animals off the land they were intended to share.

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Response to rwsanders (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 28, 2014, 07:10 PM

5. We're just doing what we do.

The relationship between the appearance of humans and the decline of megafauna is just one example of how people have been changing the world since we've been here. The "noble savage in harmony with nature" has never described homo sapiens.

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Response to rrneck (Reply #5)

Sat Mar 1, 2014, 12:27 AM

10. Same could be said of war, greed, and all the ills that beset us...

not a reason to resign ourselves to that as inevitable or we might as well be republican.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Mar 1, 2014, 01:11 AM

11. El Valle Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project

 

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Mar 1, 2014, 01:33 AM

12. The Seventh Extinction:

Mandkind?

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Response to ReRe (Reply #12)

Sat Mar 1, 2014, 10:50 AM

13. Yeah, pretty much

It might tale a couple centuries or more, but I think we're long passed the tipping point.

Too many people, multiplying exponentially. Limited food and energy supplies. Unlimited (seemingly) capacity to create garbage, to kill, to lay waste.

Every thousand years or so, some one arrives on the seen to "save us" from ourselves. A few hundred, then thousand, then even 10's of thousands of people get on board as true believers and practitioners. Millions and billions, of course, claim to follow the savior -- whether Buddha, Christ, or Muhammed -- but are incapable of actually practicing what those guys preached. Instead, millions and billions do what humans have always been extremely good at: twisting the words intended to save us. Instead of "Love yourself and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself" which is axiomatic in the preachings and teachings of true wise/compassionate men, the vast human mass follows appetites for greed "Love yourself and your love will trickle down to your neighbor." Or "Love your neighbor, but not everyone is your neighbor."

This branches out into the environment and its ecology. The word from the wise here could be stated "You have the entire world to cultivate and protect." But it's changed to "God gave you the world to exploit and use up."

Someone tell me if I'm wrong. But if I'm not, where's the hope for the continued existence of a species that resists efforts to control a growth of population that inevitably leads to more and more suffering and conflict on a planet that is slowly -- but at an accelerating rate -- being strangled to death?

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Response to ReRe (Reply #12)

Sat Mar 1, 2014, 06:30 PM

16. Well, we are interdependent with other species

so, I would assume there's a "tipping point" at which we will have altered our natural environment to the point that it cannot support the level of human life on this planet.

that's what's worrisome about irregular, weird weather over short periods - if crops cannot be planted until later, or are destroyed by freak weather events that occur freakishly often - the farmer puts the food upon the table.

but before it gets there, bees do their thing, birds do their thing, butterflies do their thing, seeds to their thing in soil doing its thing...

I'm hopeful about our near future - but if we don't develop some sort of defense against our own worst actions - again, among those who benefit short term for bad actions for a few who are the ones who really have a way to make an impact - then we're screwed.

maybe, in a couple of generations, those folks' family members will be held accountable for their actions... guillotine! guillotine! and then they'll have understood why it's in their benefit, too, to treat humans as interdependent, too, not just those with the same last name or same color of skin or same nation.

Western Europe has made some legislative changes - our own political system seems too sclerotic to be effective against actual issues, and not their invented ones.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Mar 1, 2014, 01:47 PM

15. Movement of tropical organisms Up-Slope (in elevation) and toward the Poles (cooler

and less sunlight strength).

Several years ago, PBS showed an animated video program that followed a woman from birth to old age. It was about movement toward the North during her lifetime being born this century. In the end, she was believed to be the oldest humans living; age 90, after going through all of the moves during her life as a human being. I have not been able to find the name of that DVD. Does anyone remember the name of it?

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Tue Apr 22, 2014, 02:53 PM

17. hadn't seen this

thanks!

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