Study: Can nature's leading indicators presage environmental disaster?

Jan 05, 2009

Economists use leading indicators — the drivers of economic performance - to take the temperature of the economy and predict the future.

Now, in a new study, scientists take a page from the social science handbook and use leading indicators of the environment to presage the potential collapse of ecosystems. The study, published today (Jan. 5) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by two ecologists and an economist, suggests it may be possible to use nature's leading indicators to avert environmental disaster.

Ecosystems worldwide — lakes, ocean fisheries, coral reefs, forests, wetlands and rangelands — are under constant and escalating pressure from humans and many are on the brink of collapse, according to Stephen R. Carpenter, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of zoology and an author of the new study.

"It's a big problem because they are very hard to predict. It is hard to get a handle on statistically," says Carpenter of what ecologists call "regime shift," a disastrous change in the way an individual ecosystem functions. Such change can be dramatic, as in the collapse of the North Atlantic cod fishery or increasing desertification in Africa and the Middle East, and can have serious economic, political and social consequences.

The idea of using leading indicators in science is not new. Geologists use seismic indicators to try to predict earthquakes and physicians use measures of such things as cholesterol and blood pressure to try to predict patient health. But applying the same kind of monitoring and statistical tools to forecast the health of ecosystems and, ultimately, to prevent serious ecological harm is only now coming into play, says Carpenter.

In the new study, Carpenter, Reinette Biggs of Stockholm University and William A. Brock, an economist at UW-Madison, used northern Wisconsin's sport fishery as a laboratory to see if leading indicators of ecological collapse can be detected far enough in advance to avert disaster.

"The answer is 'yes' if the policy interventions can be swift and 'no' if there are delays," says Carpenter of the study's results.

Northern Wisconsin has the largest concentration of freshwater lakes in the world, and the sport fishery is a critical economic engine for the region. The researchers looked at two major threats to the fishery: overfishing and habitat destruction caused by lake home-building and the loss of trees that would otherwise fall into the lake and provide habitat for sport fish.

"If you are a fish, woody habitat is perfect. It's a place to hide and it has food. It's like a room with a refrigerator," says Carpenter. "But there is way less habitat in lakes with a lot of houses. We are particularly concerned about woody habitat loss."

In both the case of habitat loss and the case of overfishing, indicators of potential harm to the fishery can be detected before a breakdown in the lake ecosystem occurs, Carpenter explains. "However, only in the case of overfishing can policy change fast enough to avert the damage. It is not possible to act fast enough to avert the damage from habitat destruction because it takes too long to grow the trees. In that case, you have to start over."

The key to avoiding disaster, Carpenter argues, is monitoring: "We really need to be monitoring and analyzing the data from these ecosystems as a way to keep them healthy. Otherwise, by the time the problem surfaces it is too late."

Carpenter says it is possible to sense impending ecosystem regime shifts by carefully monitoring the changing variables that are likely to damage an environment. For example, daily measuring of chlorophyll in a lake could reveal an impending transition to a state where water quality will decline to the point that plant and animal communities in the lake are at risk.

"The behavior of the system becomes extremely variable in the run up to change. You see a lot of variability, and right at the point of regime shift, it becomes very unstable," Carpenter notes.

According to Carpenter, in addition to expanded monitoring and analysis of ecosystem data, averting regime shifts depends on effective policy. Enabling society to respond more rapidly to information about looming change, he says, is necessary to keep ecosystems producing the things people need.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

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MikeB
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2009
"In the new study, Carpenter, Reinette Biggs... and William A. Brock... used northern Wisconsin's sport fishery as a laboratory to see if leading indicators of ecological collapse can be detected far enough in advance to avert disaster.
"The answer is 'yes' if the policy interventions can be swift and 'no' if there are delays," says Carpenter of the study's results."

Translation: Do exactly what scientists tell you to do and do it immediately. If you don't like it you will die a slow horrible death.

Herr Carpenter further stated, "You vill do vhat ve say you vill do, and you vill do it quickly or you vill suffer the consequences."
GrayMouser
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 06, 2009
You forgot that they determine what the "leading indicators of ecological collapse" are and what is "swift" enough.

They also gave the following examples:
"Geologists use seismic indicators to try to predict earthquakes and physicians use measures of such things as cholesterol and blood pressure to try to predict patient health." But they forgot to add that neither discipline is having any luck with them.
theophys
2.7 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2009
So you think it's foolish to act on scientific theories and their predictions?
That's the third stupidest thing I've ever heard.
GrayMouser
3 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2009
So you think it's foolish to act on scientific theories and their predictions?
That's the third stupidest thing I've ever heard.


Not all theories are scientific... I also think it is stupid to act on unproven theories as if your life depended on them just because some person or people are making a bunch of noise about it.

My expectation is that the more noise made by news papers and advocates for something the more likely they are wrong.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2009
Not all theories are scientific... I also think it is stupid to act on unproven theories as if your life depended on them just because some person or people are making a bunch of noise about it.

In this case, it i a scientific theory. It has been peer reviewed and hasn't been unproven. It seems very logical and not acting it could in fact prove to be very dangerous. Of course it's unproven, most scientific theories are. However, if it isn't disporven it's worth acting on, or at least taken into consideration before acting on relevant issues.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2009
In this case, it i a scientific theory. It has been peer reviewed and hasn't been unproven. It seems very logical and not acting it could in fact prove to be very dangerous. Of course it's unproven, most scientific theories are. However, if it isn't disporven it's worth acting on, or at least taken into consideration before acting on relevant issues.


The issue I have with taking this particular theory into consideration is that many of the basic elements of the theory have had to be revisited multiple times due to many as yet not well understood facets of the system.

There is a lot of debate on both sides of this issue and typically if that is the case I go with the side that brings scientific argument to the table.

My lack of faith in the AGW theory is bolstered when the proponents of the theory casually attack anyone bringing contradicting research to the forefront as Hansen, the father of modern AGW, has done.

I'm sure we're all well aquainted with the theatrics on realclimate.org.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 08, 2009
Scientific debate is a good thing, no matter what. If somebody can find a hole in a scientific theory, it gives us a chance to reform our theories to make them fit the real world a little better.
The preoblem I have with most (note: 'most,' not 'all') of the arguments against global climate change that have been presented to me is that they lack either real scientific substance or revelevance. Most of the data points to a general increase in temperature that appears to be related to the increase of green house gasses. The physics behind how greenhouse gasses have awarming effect is pretty sound and examples of the extremes have been observed (Venus has excesive greenhouse gasses with no ocean systemss to regulate their effects and Mars has no greenhouse gasses whatsoever).
I will admit that we don't know everything about it, but I feel that it would be much wiser to act on the information we have at present. If current theories are even a little correct, then it is in our best interest to gain more control over our environment.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2009
Scientific debate is a good thing, no matter what. If somebody can find a hole in a scientific theory, it gives us a chance to reform our theories to make them fit the real world a little better.
The preoblem I have with most (note: 'most,' not 'all') of the arguments against global climate change that have been presented to me is that they lack either real scientific substance or revelevance. Most of the data points to a general increase in temperature that appears to be related to the increase of green house gasses. The physics behind how greenhouse gasses have awarming effect is pretty sound and examples of the extremes have been observed (Venus has excesive greenhouse gasses with no ocean systemss to regulate their effects and Mars has no greenhouse gasses whatsoever).
I will admit that we don't know everything about it, but I feel that it would be much wiser to act on the information we have at present. If current theories are even a little correct, then it is in our best interest to gain more control over our environment.

I agree with most of what you posted however a few of the points you touched upon are wrong.

Mars itself has plenty of greenhouse gases in relation to the amount of atmosphere it has. It jsut has almost no atmosphere. (Semantics and nit picking I know). However, I'd be more inclined to agree with the solar models of warming due to the warming we see on Venus and Mars and the increased brightness of Neptune as opposed to the shaky physical theories of CO2 in the atmosphere. To be clear, I don't doubt that GHG's exist and the effect they have on warming the planet, that is well known scientific fact, but, the extents of which and to what concentration are changes brought is not well understood as evidenced by the wide range of values used in AGW modeling for supposed "constants".
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2009
I know Mars has an appropriate level of greenhouse gasses proportional to it's atmosphere, but I'm talking over all amount, not relative amount. Mars has very little greenhouse gasses and is thus very cold (added to the distance from the sun, of course).
As for Venus, 96.5% of it's atmosphere is carbon dioxide and the average surface temperature has been measured to be around 900 degrees farenheit. Now, that average temperature in relation to its distance from the sun should be somewhere around 110 degrees faranheit. That means that the green house effect, without the precnece of large oceans, results in an average increase in temperature by about 8 degrees farenheit per percent composition of coarbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Obviously we don't see the same effect on Earth. We get less energy from the sun, we have very large oceans to absorb green house gasses and heat, and we have plants to help regulate carbon dioxide. However, with continued reduction of plant life and increased output of green house gasses, and reduction of ozone, the only real asset we have left is our oceans, which can only hold a finite amount of CO2 and heat.
While we are by no means doomed, we are at a point where we either act or wait for things to get so bad that there's basically nothing we can do about it and we will be doomed.
That's really all I need to want to do something about our emissions and our deforestization.
Velanarris
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2009
I don't want to speak to the science in your comment, Theo, as I can't put any certainty behind my words with accurate research to support them.

While we are by no means doomed, we are at a point where we either act or wait for things to get so bad that there's basically nothing we can do about it and we will be doomed.
That's really all I need to want to do something about our emissions and our deforestization.


I agree with this however, as man kind has done before in the course of trying to solve problems, extreme actions with weak understanding of the underlying drivers of the issue tend to result in horrible consequence. For an example of this one only needs to examine the banning of DDT. Malaria was all but exterminated and then in response to the initial reports of all birds being at risk DDT was banned and malaria cases exploded. Subsequent research showed that DDT really only had a deleterious effect to many species of raptors and some other closely related species but in general had little to no effect on other species of birds. This was discovered after millions of people had succumbed to the disease. Rather than an outright ban, careful use and implementation of rules and regulations would have accomplished the same effect in protecting wildlife while protecting human life as well.

I see the same knee-jerk reactions and bi-partisan "alarmism/denialism" of DDT being mirrored in the current AGW debate. We really need to work out what factors are at play before we make rash economic, social, and industrial decisions that will affect an even greater amount of people than DDT/Malaria ever could.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2009
Vel, for the most part I agree with you. We can't go in guns blazing and hope to avoid any casualties. Moderation is key, but since we don't know all the factors at play, we don't know if moderation will be enough in the long run.
I think that there are two things that we must do asap to buy ourselves enough time to get all the facts and work out all the theories. First, we need to have a massive investment in alternative energy. We can create jobs, gain energy independence, and reduce greenhouse gass emmissions by quite a bit. The technology needs improvement, but if we start now, we can improve everything as we go. Second, we need to get some hard regulation on logging going. We can't just cut down entire forests, throw down a couple seeds, and hope for the best. We need keep as many large trees as we posibly can, their absorbtion of CO2 is vital to buying us time.
There are other things that we can do, but I think those are the two most important things that we can do that won't bite us in the ass later.
Velanarris
1 / 5 (1) Jan 09, 2009
Vel, for the most part I agree with you. We can't go in guns blazing and hope to avoid any casualties. Moderation is key, but since we don't know all the factors at play, we don't know if moderation will be enough in the long run.
I think that there are two things that we must do asap to buy ourselves enough time to get all the facts and work out all the theories. First, we need to have a massive investment in alternative energy. We can create jobs, gain energy independence, and reduce greenhouse gass emmissions by quite a bit. The technology needs improvement, but if we start now, we can improve everything as we go. Second, we need to get some hard regulation on logging going. We can't just cut down entire forests, throw down a couple seeds, and hope for the best. We need keep as many large trees as we posibly can, their absorbtion of CO2 is vital to buying us time.
There are other things that we can do, but I think those are the two most important things that we can do that won't bite us in the ass later.


For the most part I agree. My exception is at the logging point. Logging, when done responsibly (no, the US does not engage in responsible logging) is even more benficial to the environment than not logging.

In the US logging is not as much of an issue as we've put hard, (and in my opinion unreasonably low) quotas on the practice. The US currently sits on a greater abundance of trees than we did in at the start of the industrial revolution. Most of this is due to how we've brought water and other necessary resources to areas that prior were deserts like southern California.

The best system of logging is the rotational cycle system. Effectively you pick an age where each tree produces an adequate amount of resources. For an easy hypothetical let's use 10 years. You divide up your target logging area into 11 lots of land and rotate. Year one, cut down lot 1. Year two, cut down lot 2 and plant lot 1. Increment and repeat.

The real deforestation problems are to be found in areas that were not inhabited, or sparsely inhabited, 5 to 10 years ago. That land is being slashed and burned to make way for farm land and residential dwellings.

Now I don't have a problem with changing the land use of forests. The problem I have is when those resource lots are not replenished or replaced and I really have a problem with the slash and burn practice as it's an absolutely massive waste of useful resources.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 09, 2009
Maybe they should not have dropped the rural temperature reporting stations...

http://icecap.us/...pout.jpg

Could the warming be partly due to this discontinuity?
It sure looks suspicious.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 09, 2009
The date and title of the article that contains the graph above is:
Jan 09, 2009
2008 Coldest Year Since 2000 and Clearly Not a Top Ten Warmest Year

http://www.icecap.us/
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2009
The best system of logging is the rotational cycle system. Effectively you pick an age where each tree produces an adequate amount of resources. For an easy hypothetical let's use 10 years. You divide up your target logging area into 11 lots of land and rotate. Year one, cut down lot 1. Year two, cut down lot 2 and plant lot 1. Increment and repeat

I like that idea, but that still leaves very old trees, which absorb more CO2 than the younger ones, getting cut down in the areas. I think a good way to preserve older trees would be to cut the amount of timber cut for the next couple years and start replanting areas that have already been decimated. Since we're in a recession, demand for wood should drop significantly. Normaly, that would mean that companies would have to lay off a few loggers to cut costs and weather through the economic turmoil. Instead of cutting the labor, the government could offer some compensation if a percentage of the uncut labor force were to start planting trees. then, we could have the system you just desribed and minimize the number of areas with very large trees. As an added bonus, we save jobs in the logging industry, thus providing a small boost to local economies.

Maybe they should not have dropped the rural temperature reporting stations...

http://icecap.us/...pout.jpg

Could the warming be partly due to this discontinuity?
It sure looks suspicious.

If you look at the same data starting in 1900 instead of 1950, you will notice that with even less stations, the recorded average temperature was cooler, with a few exceptions of course. In the last hundred years, temperatures have risen. Some isolated areas have felt a cooling trend, but the big picture is a warming trend. The only scientific debates left now are a)could this warming prove disaterous for life on Earth if left unchecked? and b) are humans responsible for a large percentage of the warming?
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2009
like that idea, but that still leaves very old trees, which absorb more CO2 than the younger ones, getting cut down in the areas. I think a good way to preserve older trees would be to cut the amount of timber cut for the next couple years and start replanting areas that have already been decimated.
That is completely backwards. Young tree use more CO2 to build themselves up than older trees use to replenish the carbon they lose through natural process. That is another reason why this system is so attractive.

As for the demand for wood here's the best part.

Most environmentalists rail against coal plants. Well with no modification whatsoever coal plants can accomodate lumber and paper as fuel, difference is the ash is far less toxic.

Cheaper, carbon-neutral, renewable energy, more jobs, electricity from domestic sources. It's a huge win. Where's my grant money.
theophys
not rated yet Jan 10, 2009
With the the current environmentalist trend, I doubt that that would go over well. All the government money is going to go toward solar, wind, and nuclear plants.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2009
With the the current environmentalist trend, I doubt that that would go over well. All the government money is going to go toward solar, wind, and nuclear plants.

And that's exactly the problem with the environmentalist trend. As soon as a word like logging or coal is used all common sense is turned off. That's why a system like the above will never be implemented even though it is a perfect stop gap until wind or solar are ready to be implemented. It even meets all the criteria for a valid carbon-neutral energy source.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2009
How efficient would it be, though? Does wood give off more or less energy than coal when burned? Personally, I would prefer to avoid any energy source involving the burning of anything, but if wood gives off around the same amount of energy then we could quickly convert the current coal plants. Just change the fuel being thrown into the fires.
Velanarris
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2009
How efficient would it be, though? Does wood give off more or less energy than coal when burned? Personally, I would prefer to avoid any energy source involving the burning of anything, but if wood gives off around the same amount of energy then we could quickly convert the current coal plants. Just change the fuel being thrown into the fires.
Pretty sure it's less energy but not by a significant amount. I can't speak to exact numbers but there are a few articles out there about coal plant alteration. Also take into account effectively you're creating biochar as a waste, reducing the need for oil based fertilizers. There are a boat load of benefits but it requires logging.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2009
I bet a good deal of eco's would respond positively if the idea were sold as a temporary patch while the cleaner plants were under construction.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
I bet a good deal of eco's would respond positively if the idea were sold as a temporary patch while the cleaner plants were under construction.
They all shot it down when the Dept of Energy put it forth as a solution years ago.

It's unfortunate that they couldn't see the merits. It'd work, employ people, generate a stronger economy, and it's ecologically sound on all fronts, exactly what they're looking for as a stop gap.

Things like this really put me off when it comes to the eco movement. Someone will provide a solid and sound solution and they'll dismiss it off hand. It's almost like some of the people in charge of the movement fight just to fight.
theophys
3 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
It's almost like some of the people in charge of the movement fight just to fight.

That can be said of any movement. It's a level of emotional maturity that we all go through eventualy, some people never seem to grow out of it. Luckily, those people have trouble choosing their battles and are eventualy removed from the playing field.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 11, 2009
George Carlin had these people pegged. He was a very smart and cynical man. He will be missed.

http://www.youtub...upFx4FcA

Warning: Adult Language
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2009
ah, good ol' George. Funny guy. Would never base scientific or political opinions on the words of a comedian, but then again, I'm a big boy, capable of forming big boy thoughts and doing big boy things.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 12, 2009
"ah, good ol' George. Funny guy. Would never base scientific or political opinions on the words of a comedian, but then again, I'm a big boy, capable of forming big boy thoughts and doing big boy things."

Methinks thou dost protest too much, theo. How old are you anyway, 18? This is not a putdown, I was really just wondering because of your response. At least I do appreciate your positive affirmation.

"I'm a big boy, capable of forming big boy thoughts and doing big boy things."
"Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!"-Stuart Smalley (fictional character)
theophys
not rated yet Jan 12, 2009
Methinks thou dost protest too much, theo. How old are you anyway, 18? This is not a putdown, I was really just wondering because of your response. At least I do appreciate your positive affirmation.

19, actualy. Close enough. Possitive affirmation of what, exactly? That George Carlin was hillareous?
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 12, 2009
A positive affirmation is a phrase that speaks well of you, yourself.

"I am a kind and interesting human being." is an example of an affirmation. It is a type of self-talk that successful people use to remove negative feelings from their minds. Affirmations are also used to improve a selected part of your personality.
theophys
not rated yet Jan 13, 2009
A positive affirmation is a phrase that speaks well of you, yourself.

"I am a kind and interesting human being." is an example of an affirmation. It is a type of self-talk that successful people use to remove negative feelings from their minds. Affirmations are also used to improve a selected part of your personality.

That's rather interesting. I learned something today, yay.
Anyway, my 'possitive affirmation' was my snide way of saying 'isn't it a little silly to form oppinions based on material of a comic whose style involes intentionaly offending and shocking as many people as possible?' My attempt at personal humor was probably caused by writing a post shortly after watching a comedian.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 13, 2009
I never said that I formed any of my opinions by listening to anyone specifically. When I do hear a truth that resonates with me, however, I take note of it and pass it on. Truth is rare. Grab it when you hear it, no matter where it comes from.


But it was ever thus, all through my life: whenever I have diverged from custom and principle and uttered a truth, the rule has been that the hearer hadn't strength of mind enough to believe it.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain
theophys
not rated yet Jan 13, 2009
When I do hear a truth that resonates with me, however, I take note of it and pass it on.

Most of the 'truths' from that particular excerpt were speculative at best. In fact, I would be offended at the extreme misrepresentation of my ideology if it weren't for the fact that I have a sense of humor and enjoy laughing more than being outraged.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 13, 2009
Theo,
Your ideology will change two or three times before you reach 35, so don't get too committed to the present one... just saying...
theophys
not rated yet Jan 13, 2009
No worries. I'm always willing to change my views when I learn about new circumstances. I actualy use to spout neocon ideology when I was kid because that's what my family taught me. Now I'm a staunch liberal. There's one of your predicted changes. Maybe next I'll be libertarian.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 13, 2009
Anyone who isn't a liberal by age 20 has no heart. Anyone who isn't a conservative by age 40 has no brain.-Winston Churchill.

Almost everyone I know (including me of course)was a liberal at 19. As you grow up, you begin to see that your hard work is not appreciated, however your money is. At some point people that have any talent or ambition become tired of trying to support themselves, the government workers and everyone else. When socialism takes over a country, the best and the brightest are no longer appreciated or rewarded, so they take menial jobs as streetsweepers or they flee to a place that can reward them. Eventually the feeble construction of the collectivist state crumbles and capitalism tries to rebuild. I guess the USA has not learned this simple lesson from our experiences in Jamestown.

http://www.freere...69/posts

We are about to repeat this experiment to our own harm.
I guess this should be on a political science blog.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 13, 2009
At some point people that have any talent or ambition become tired of trying to support themselves, the government workers and everyone else. When socialism takes over a country, the best and the brightest are no longer appreciated or rewarded, so they take menial jobs as streetsweepers or they flee to a place that can reward them.

I have to disaggree. Truley talented people tend to enjoy what they do for the sake of doing it (there are exceptions of course). While I wouldn't count myself as talented, I would happily play my violin at a concert hall for no pay, write books without royalties, and make my meger contributions to science without expecting some cash reward. Again, I'm not truely talented and therefore cannot speak for those who are, but I think that those who contrubute the most will gladly continue to contribute no matter what the taxes are.
I guess this should be on a political science blog.

Probably, but where's the fun in keeping politics out of scientific discussions? The two are intimately related.

"Life is politics."
-Aristotle
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2009

I have to disaggree. Truley talented people tend to enjoy what they do for the sake of doing it (there are exceptions of course).

Not where I'm from. Where I'm from if you know how to do something that others appreciate or can't do themselves you make them pay for your skills. My sentiment is fairly common in capitalist societies, after all, how happy would you be if during your employment review your boss says, "Hey buddy, you enjoy what you do?" You reply with a yes and he then informs you that since you're so incredibly talented and good at your job and enjoy it so much that they're giving you a pay cut.

I'd firebomb the place.
MikeB
not rated yet Jan 14, 2009
Theo, I understand how you feel.

Vel, I understand how you think.

That's the difference between liberalism and libertarianism(objectivism).

In the end, thinking wins. If feelings were so important, there would be no divorces in our society.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2009
My sentiment is fairly common in capitalist societies, after all, how happy would you be if during your employment review your boss says, "Hey buddy, you enjoy what you do?" You reply with a yes and he then informs you that since you're so incredibly talented and good at your job and enjoy it so much that they're giving you a pay cut.

Would you still be mad if everybody else got the same percentage of their pay cut to save the company from bankruptcy and the eventual need to lay all of you off? Would you rather have the smaller pay and continued benefits(if any) in the long run, or would you rather keep the higher pay in the short run and hope that you'll be able to find another job with equal or higher compensation dispite the large influx of competition do to the massive layoffs? Your chances at prosperity are better if you suck it up and continue work as usual while keeping an I out for a better paying job(which you were probably doing already, as a good capitalist would).
That's the difference between liberalism and libertarianism(objectivism).

Incorrect. The difference is that a liberal beleives that the world's problems can be solved by working through the government and reforming the government to suit present needs, while a libertarian believes that all problems can be solved localy and the only real need for government is the protection of a functional army, if even that. People who base political decisions on pure feelings are what we call the masses, and they are apolitical. You find them in every party with every mindset. Objectivism, or the closet you can possibly come to it and still be an active member of society, is a product of emotional maturity and can be attained in almost any political ideology.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2009

Would you still be mad if the everybody else got the same percentage of their pay cut to save the company from bankruptcy and the eventual need to lay all of you off?
No I'd want the under performers to be fired. I'll work harder to maintain my current pay but I'll leave if I have to take a pay cut. If there are no under performers at the job, then there shouldn't be a financial crisis at my work place because we're all making money for the company.

Would you rather have the smaller pay and continued benefits(if any) in the long run, or would you rather keep the higher pay in the short run and hope that you'll be able to find another job with equal or higher compensation dispite the large influx of competition do to the massive layoffs?
You're assuming a failing system in all of the hypotheticals. If the economic system is failing then the market place becomes competitive, and if I'm the best at what I do, I set the payscale, and I get the job. If I'm not the best at what I do I'm subject to the market's whim. It's in my best interest to be the best. Under a system where everyone gets a pay cut what incentive is there to be the best? If I take a cut and I'm the best, and the guy who's not so great takes the same cut, why am I working harder than the guy who's decent at best? The company would fold due to mismanaging their employees and losing talent to competition and we'd all be out of a job either way.

Your chances at prosperity are better if you suck it up and continue work as usual while keeping an I out for a better paying job(which you were probably doing already, as a good capitalist would).
I have a motto. "Always look." This is in life, in work, in everything. If you're always looking to get ahead, you'll get there.
Incorrect. The difference is that a liberal beleives that the world's problems can be solved by working through the government and reforming the government to suit present needs, while a libertarian believes that all problems can be solved localy and the only real need for government is the protection of a functional army, if even that.
No, that's not correct either. Liberalism is a spending method. Being a liberal means you're willing to spend more money on government programs regardless of the aim. Many people equate liberalism with the Democratic party and that's why liberalism is typically seen as the big government stance.

Technically the "neo-cons" are liberals. They liberally spend money on programs like military development, business development, etc.

Libertarians, well, they're a tough lot to describe. I'd say a better term for libertarians would be "The pot pourri party" as you never know exactly where one stands until he makes his views plain.

Most libertarians are fed up with both parties and endorse a more moderate conservative role, similar to the old whig party and the current constitutionalist movement. Your definition of libertarianism is more in line with the constitutionalists, which make up a majority of the libertarian group, but they do not encompass the whole group.
People who base political decisions on pure feelings are what we call the masses, and the are apolitical. You find them in every party with every mindset. Objectivism, or the closet you can possibly come to it and still be an active member of society, is a product of emotional maturity and can be attained in almost any political ideology.

Yes I agree with all of this piece. Problem is political and puerile seem to go hand in hand.

Great examples of this are Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Al Gore, PETA, the Modern Industrialist movement, etc.

Examples are from both sides of the political coin as both sides have their extremists, the most puerile of the bunch.
theophys
not rated yet Jan 15, 2009
If there are no under performers at the job, then there shouldn't be a financial crisis at my work place because we're all making money for the company.

That's not true to the real world. The company makes money by selling objects or services. If nobody buys those objects/services, then the company is going to have to make cuts no matter how hard you all work.
If the economic system is failing then the market place becomes competitive, and if I'm the best at what I do, I set the payscale, and I get the job. If I'm not the best at what I do I'm subject to the market's whim. It's in my best interest to be the best. Under a system where everyone gets a pay cut what incentive is there to be the best? If I take a cut and I'm the best, and the guy who's not so great takes the same cut, why am I working harder than the guy who's decent at best? The company would fold due to mismanaging their employees and losing talent to competition and we'd all be out of a job either way.

But how many people actualy benefit in a system of competion? The best usually win and all sorts of fun perks, but what about second place? What about third? And what happens to the people in last place? The people who finish last are usually handicapped in some way or another. Should they suffer because they were born with a low IQ? The drop outs and addicts I understand, but what about good, yet unintelligent people? The competition system works for us because we have a fighting chance. But there needs to be a place where the disadvantaged can become productive members of society and live with some modecum of comfort.
Being a liberal means you're willing to spend more money on government programs regardless of the aim. Many people equate liberalism with the Democratic party and that's why liberalism is typically seen as the big government stance.

That's not entirely correct either. We don't just want to spend things, we want to wisely invest what we have. I have here a Big Book O' Definitions (a dictionary) and would like to set down the actualy official definition:
(skipping to the part about politic) 5. tolerant of views differing from one's own; broad-minded 6. of democratic or republican governments, a distinguished from monarchies, aristocracies, ect. 7. favoring reform or progress, as political reforms tending toward democracy and personal freedom for the individual; progressive: now sometimes distinguished from progressive, as connoting somewhat more conservatism. 8. designating or of a political party upholding liberal principles...

It gets euronioous after that. So, in the stictest of definitions, we are open-minded peoples working for progressive change in our government. Also, we are in liberal political parties and and don't live in a monaarchy. Pretty general.
Hey, since it's on the same page, let's do libertarian:
1. a person who belives in the doctrine of the freedom of will. 2. a person who advocates full civil liberties. adj. of or upholding either of these principles.
Well that's even more annoyingly general. It appears that all the details are just additives that we like to throw in to spice things up.
Last time i ever use the dictionary to try to settle things. Unhelpful.
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2009
Yeah, when it comes to politics, dictionary definitions are fairly bogus or overly vague.


In regards to your statement on competition I'm going to go into my personal views a bit and I'm sure it'll displease more than a few regular posters.

Honestly I'm of the mind that competition benefits everyone. Competition creates a best of breed mentality. It's hard coded into us as organisms to seek out those who have the best traits in the environment that we exist in. The handicapped should be made to suffer for their handicap. I've suffered for my handicaps and over come each of them either through using other strengths to compensate or by eliminating the handicap. Those amongst us with low intelligence shouldn't be given a job simply because everyone should be a productive member of society. They shouldn't receive perks and benefits that they cannot obtain through their own merit.

The most simple argument one could make is evolution. Early man used to discard those amongst his ranks who had detriments that could potentially be fatal to the group, yet now we carry those people. We have overpopulation due to those people. We have a need for special programs to advance people with disabilities because we have programs for people with disabilities. If you never instituted benefits for people with handicaps you'd probably see greater progress in our race. We're effectively sealing our own fates by trying to bring everyone up to par. Without self interest society as a whole stagnates and suffers.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 16, 2009
But if you just leave the handicaped to die, you are wasting perfectly good man power. It's inneficient. There ae jobs out there that are very simple to preform, but are too low on the scale for most of u to happily work at. Why not have the mentaly handicapped picking fruit, sweeping sidewalks, or some other menial task? To be fair, we can give them an education while they work and make sure they have enough food to eat and a place to sleep. Then we don't have to waste labor for competition's sake and we give them a chance to rise up if they can.
I agree that we need to preserve self interest, but why does self interest have to stop at the individual. Are we not united in the continued existence of our species and ways of life? We as a society can't afford to waste an entire sectionof the labor force just because they are unintelligent.
Besides, unintelligent people have a nasty habit of over-reproducing. Rarely will you see a couple of highly intelligent people with more than two or three children, but when you look at the average unintelligent couple, you can plainly see that they don't know the meaning of 'contraceptive.' The only solution to that source of over population is to either mercilessly kill them, or to carefully keep them in check. Give them the means to live comfortably and slip birth control into their drinking water.
As for the rest of us, competition only really works well in the business world. Scietists make the best discoveries when they are curious, not when they are trying to best eachother for a higher payscale. Doctors don't save people to up their stats, they do it because it gives their lives meaning.Good politicians (emphasis on good) are in it because they feel their views and ideas can help their society, not because they get paid more if they come up with the best plans. Obviously there are exceptions, but are those exceptions the very best of their field?
Velanarris
3 / 5 (2) Jan 16, 2009
But if you just leave the handicaped to die, you are wasting perfectly good man power. It's inneficient. There ae jobs out there that are very simple to preform, but are too low on the scale for most of u to happily work at. Why not have the mentaly handicapped picking fruit, sweeping sidewalks, or some other menial task?
Dead on the money. That's exactly what they should be doing. They should not be receiving hand outs from the government to do nothing.

To be fair, we can give them an education while they work and make sure they have enough food to eat and a place to sleep. Then we don't have to waste labor for competition's sake and we give them a chance to rise up if they can.
Yes, they would be raising their quality of life through hard work and effort just like the rest of society. I completely agree.
I agree that we need to preserve self interest, but why does self interest have to stop at the individual. Are we not united in the continued existence of our species and ways of life? We as a society can't afford to waste an entire sectionof the labor force just because they are unintelligent.
Besides, unintelligent people have a nasty habit of over-reproducing. Rarely will you see a couple of highly intelligent people with more than two or three children, but when you look at the average unintelligent couple, you can plainly see that they don't know the meaning of 'contraceptive.'
Agreed, it's been theorized that man will regress due to this mechanism.
The only solution to that source of over population is to either mercilessly kill them, or to carefully keep them in check. Give them the means to live comfortably and slip birth control into their drinking water.
Now this is unacceptable. The best way to do it, stop giving them free money and healthcare. They'll work themselves out of the system.
As for the rest of us, competition only really works well in the business world. Scietists make the best discoveries when they are curious, not when they are trying to best eachother for a higher payscale.
Actually some of the greatest breakthroughs of mankind have been developed during wartime, which is the competition with the greatest price for failure. Most medical, energy, communication, data storage, radar, sonar, materials, etc have been developed by scientists during war time to combat an advantage an opponent had or to create an advantage for ourselves.

Doctors don't save people to up their stats,
Actually, some do.
they do it because it gives their lives meaning.Good politicians (emphasis on good) are in it because they feel their views and ideas can help their society, not because they get paid more if they come up with the best plans.

I can give a unique perspective on this as I currently work in the Healthcare IT field. Recently a new pilot system wa shot down by the Medical board because it provided too much patient data. This system was seen as a liability although it assisted in saving lives and provided essential data in seconds that would normally take hours to find in a medical records storage room.

The reason: malpractice liability.

Doctors are in it for the money, not to save lives. I'd say the life savers are the exception to the rule. The life savers are the ones who work in 3rd world nations to prove a point or to support a cause. The average doctor wants nothing to do with that. They want to see a patient for no more than 10 minutes, and then submit the bill and go home.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 16, 2009
Dead on the money. That's exactly what they should be doing. They should not be receiving hand outs from the government to do nothing.

Nobody wants them to get hand out for doing nothing. What we want to do is go out of our way to make sure they have something to do and make sure that they are able to live comfortabley.

Yes, they would be raising their quality of life through hard work and effort just like the rest of society. I completely agree.

But at their own pace. They can't be held to the same standards as us and most definently can't be expected to compete with us for a living wage.
Agreed, it's been theorized that man will regress due to this mechanism.

Ever seen the movie 'Idiocracy?' It's a farce based on that theory. Pretty funny actualy.
Now this is unacceptable. The best way to do it, stop giving them free money and healthcare. They'll work themselves out of the system.

They don't have free healthcare and the only way they get free money is by abusing welfare programs. The conservative forces in this nation have made it so we can generally rule out government handouts as the source of over breeding.
Actually some of the greatest breakthroughs of mankind have been developed during wartime, which is the competition with the greatest price for failure. Most medical, energy, communication, data storage, radar, sonar, materials, etc have been developed by scientists during war time to combat an advantage an opponent had or to create an advantage for ourselves.

I wouldn't call that competition among peers. Radar was developed out of neccesity, not for a fat pay check or an attempt to raise standings among the scientific community. Tanks were developed as clever ways to get over barbed wire without getting shot and had nothing to do with econic competition.

Doctors are in it for the money, not to save lives. I'd say the life savers are the exception to the rule. The life savers are the ones who work in 3rd world nations to prove a point or to support a cause. The average doctor wants nothing to do with that. They want to see a patient for no more than 10 minutes, and then submit the bill and go home.

I've had the opposite experience. I've been in and out of hospitals and private offices for the lat ten years (sports injuries, illness, fights, ect) and I've gotten nothing but the utmost care. Doctors have specifically looked for the cheapest methods and drugs for me. I even got a call from a doctor around ten at night to make sure I was doing alright. No profit margins in that. The only doctor I've ever had the misfortune to meet that was only in it for the money was a dentist. He was utter scum and will be going to court in a couple months because of his highly illegal attempts to get more money. Maybe it's different over there. Maybe all the really cool doctors hangout over here while all the scumbags settle down in the east.
Velanarris
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2009
We should do a doctor scumbag dispersion test.
theophys
1 / 5 (1) Jan 17, 2009
We should do a doctor scumbag dispersion test.

Throw a hundred dollars into a room full of doctors. Anybody who fights over it gets deported.