Rolling the dice with evolution: Massive extinction will have unpredictable consequences

Sep 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- New research by Macquarie University palaeobiologist, Dr John Alroy, predicts major changes to the rules of evolution as we understand them now. Those changes will have serious consequences for future biodiversity because no one can predict which groups will come to dominate after the current mass extinction.

Alroy said today's extinction is due to a range of human behaviours and activities coupled with the effects of climate change. His findings were published this week in the international journal Science.

Alroy, who works in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University, undertook his study while at University of California, Santa Barbara using the massive Paleobiology Database, which compiles data from nearly 100,000 fossil collections worldwide. He tracked the fate of major groups of throughout the and during the Earth's most massive extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago.

He concludes that the rules governing diversity of these major groups we have assumed to be invariant have actually changed through . Thus, a group's average rate of diversification or branching into new species in the past is not a good predictor of how well it will fare after a .

Alroy's findings indicate that as a result of a range of factors, the major extinction event currently underway will be much more severe than has been seen in most other major periods of mass extinction. Alroy notes there have been only three mass extinctions on the level of the current one in the last half billion years.

Organisms that might have adapted in the past may not be able to this time, he said.

"You may end up with a dramatically altered because of changes in the dominance of major groups. That is, the extinction occurring now will overturn the balance of the marine groups."

When there is a major mass extinction, it's not just a temporary drop in richness of species, he said.

Alroy likens what is happening now to rolling the dice with evolution.

"What's worrisome is that some groups permanently become dominant that otherwise wouldn't have. So by causing this extinction, we are taking a big gamble on what kind of species will be around in the future. We don't know how it will turn out. People don't realise that there will be very unpredictable consequences."

Explore further: A clear, molecular view of how human color vision evolved

Provided by Macquarie University

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marjon
2.2 / 5 (10) Sep 03, 2010
"What's worrisome is that some groups permanently become dominant that otherwise wouldn't have. So by causing this extinction, we are taking a big gamble on what kind of species will be around in the future. We don't know how it will turn out. People don't realise that there will be very unpredictable consequences."

Follow the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

Species that have learned to adapt survive. We have no shortages of rats, coyotes or roaches among thousands of other species that have adapted to present conditions.
Embrace change.
ArtflDgr
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 03, 2010
what is wrong with these people? such lack of vision and imagination and ability to apply principals that all they can see is reduction in the future, as they cant see its expansion over time too large for them to experience.

so many of their ideas are disproved by the very reality aroudn them, given the mass extinctions and outcomes over hundreds of millions of years.

that if we reduced the species to 30 or so, in 300 million years we would never realize it started with those 30.

sigh
marjon
1.6 / 5 (14) Sep 03, 2010
that if we reduced the species to 30 or so, in 300 million years we would never realize it started with those 30.

Evolutionists claim ALL species share one common ancestor.
What's the worry?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.4 / 5 (13) Sep 03, 2010
Evolutionists claim ALL species share one common ancestor.
What's the worry?
The continuation of our species and subsequent food species. You can't live if you can't eat, but that doesn't bother you. You're a psychopath, similar to the former Archbishop of Canterberry when he said "A nuclear war will only hasten our transcendence to a state of grace."

Sickening.
marjon
1.4 / 5 (10) Sep 03, 2010
Evolutionists claim ALL species share one common ancestor.
What's the worry?
The continuation of our species and subsequent food species. You can't live if you can't eat, but that doesn't bother you. You're a psychopath, similar to the former Archbishop of Canterberry when he said "A nuclear war will only hasten our transcendence to a state of grace."

Sickening.

Instead of rationally addressing comments you must accuse those you disagree with of mental illness. And you say you are not a socialist? That was a common tactic in communist states.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.6 / 5 (9) Sep 03, 2010
Instead of rationally addressing comments you must accuse those you disagree with of mental illness. And you say you are not a socialist? That was a common tactic in communist states.
Try again. You've proved yourself to not be worth intelligent comment as you refuse to argue intelligently.
danman5000
4.1 / 5 (7) Sep 03, 2010
Funny, I wasn't aware we were in the middle of a massive extinction event worse than any other in the history of the planet. You'd think something like that would make the 11 o'clock news.
Ronan
5 / 5 (8) Sep 03, 2010
Danman5000: With the exception of the K-T extinction, most mass extinctions probably didn't involve anything big and flashy. It just got harder to live for a lot of Earth's life, for a long time--which is what's happening now. Overhunting, ecosystem degradation/destruction, climate change, etc. are all hacking away at the number of creatures that are still capable of surviving on Earth.

...Which probably explains why it hasn't made the 11 o'clock news, as you put it. A meteor impact or a volcanic eruption--something big, flashy, explosive--makes great news. A gradual decay of almost all of Earth's ecosystems? Sadly, that's not really "news;" it's simply too big to be easily covered.
marjon
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 03, 2010
This article is typical of all the doomsday science articles full of a all sorts of imprecise terms implying the author needs more money for more research and that if government action is not take immediately we are all going to die....sooner.
Ronan
5 / 5 (9) Sep 03, 2010
And Artful Dodger, I'm not sure if this has much to do with your point, but for what it's worth we definitely would realize it if Earth's life had been reduced to just 30 species, say, 300 MYA. I mean, we can easily recognize that the Great Dying took place (250 MYA), and that left many tens of thousands of species still alive. There's a reason we don't still have trilobites in the ocean, why the blastoids are gone, why there are no more eurypterids, why crinoids cling to existence in a few small, isolated patches, why the acanthodians are dead.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (7) Sep 03, 2010
Funny, I wasn't aware we were in the middle of a massive extinction event worse than any other in the history of the planet. You'd think something like that would make the 11 o'clock news.

It has, several times. You're telling me that you've never heard that we're facing the sixth great extinction event?
Djincs
1.8 / 5 (13) Sep 03, 2010
I think too there is no anything like great extinction nowdays, it is overestimated, and it is shown really dramatic, we have led lots of animals to extinction, but we have "created" lots of new species too, think of all the pets , stock animals, crops and so on.....they cant exist if we dont exist.And this doesnt stop here, GM tehnology will create lots of new stuf that i hope I will be alive to see.
Djincs
1.7 / 5 (11) Sep 03, 2010
And about the article, who can predict the evolution anyway(and this makes it even more great thing)? Why is all that drama?-they use the inner fear of the people from the unknown, maybe for making some money or to make a point that some people will be interested about, I dont know.
celly
2.5 / 5 (11) Sep 03, 2010
Humans will soon be able to modify DNA, and create new species from this new DNA. After this mass extinction, there will be a huge increase of new species, new animals, new plants, that never existed before. It will be an incredible bio-diversity that will happen in an extremely short lapse of time.
If chocolate didn't exist, why not invent it?
GSwift7
2.4 / 5 (9) Sep 03, 2010
"So by causing this extinction, we are taking a big gamble "

The Holocene extinction event bagan before human influence was a notable factor. What this guy says makes sense except for the doomsday part. Basically what he's saying is that we don't have a clue what's going to happen. Totally random results, like rolling a dice, right? So, equal chance of it being extremely good or bad, and some kind of bell curve distribution of likely outcomes in the middle somewhere. That's what rolling dice gives you. Come on, would it be okay if mosquitos went extinct? Can't we just get rid of the ones we don't like and keep all the cute little otters?

Skeptic is trolling again, don't answer him. Anyone who calls another poster names in stead of having a good response doesn't deserve an answer. That's abuse, and contrary to site posting rules. That's sickening.
Shootist
5 / 5 (7) Sep 03, 2010
Evolutionists claim ALL species share one common ancestor. What's the worry?


That isn't true. Life may have started and died out many times before it actually took hold. The truth isn't known.
rgwalther
1 / 5 (2) Sep 03, 2010
Massive amounts of life have unpredictable consequences.
Modernmystic
1.3 / 5 (6) Sep 03, 2010
Mass extinctions have a perfectly predictable ultimate consequence. Life goes on...
Ronan
5 / 5 (6) Sep 03, 2010
ModernMystic: Unless the mass extinction is big enough, in which case...it doesn't.

...Not suggesting that the current mass extinction will get anywhere close to wiping out all life on Earth, because nothing short of a collision between Earth and another world or a Venus-scale change in climate could do that.

That said, the mass die-off of thousands of species isn't something to take lightly, either. I mean...what's wrong with murder? There are 6.7 billion other people out there, no great loss. Life'll go on. No one'll care in a hundred years. Those last three sentences are all factually true, but that doesn't mean that they're right.
Modernmystic
2.3 / 5 (8) Sep 03, 2010
Actually this mass extinction is a perfectly natural consequence of an unusually successful species making an appearance. IMO it's nature's way of saying "congratulations you won" to the human race.

Nature rewards success and punishes failure. Some humans have a problem with this, but unfortunately we don't get to set the ground rules. We do have the power to influence, but we can't change the fundamentals. I do believe that the only thing that will stop this extinction is either a massive advance of technology or massive restraint/curbs put on current technology.

As an aside: It's only human beings that put values and labels on things like mass extinctions as being "good" or "bad". Objectively however, they just "are".
marjon
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 03, 2010
Since all human choices are 'subjective' and biologically determined, eat, drink and be merry.
Ronan
4.5 / 5 (4) Sep 03, 2010
Marjon: "...For tomorrow we die."

ModernMystic: I find myself agreeing with everything you said in your most recent post. I don't say I like it, or necessarily draw the same conclusions from it, but I do agree.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2010
Skeptic is trolling again, don't answer him. Anyone who calls another poster names in stead of having a good response doesn't deserve an answer. That's abuse, and contrary to site posting rules. That's sickening.
Care to prove your point or are you happy being the ad hominem troll of the week?

Here are my references:
http://www.abc.ne...6740.htm

One of many, what've you got?
Caliban
3.6 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2010
Actually this mass extinction is a perfectly natural consequence of an unusually successful species making an appearance. IMO it's nature's way of saying "congratulations you won" to the human race.


Or to terminal Sarcoma, Ebola, Typhus, TB, Mosqitos, the Lions in the Lion's den...In order to enjoy the fruits of success, it helps to still be around. Mass extinction tends to have a cascading effect, usually because some catastrophic event puts unbearable strain on the food chain...in this case, mainly an insupportably large, rapacious human population.

Nature rewards success and punishes failure. Some humans have a problem with this, but unfortunately we don't get to set the ground rules. We do have the power to influence, but we can't change the fundamentals. I do believe that the only thing that will stop this extinction is either a massive advance of technology or massive restraint/curbs put on current technology.


For the rest, we are in agreement.
Caliban
3.4 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2010
Since all human choices are 'subjective' and biologically determined, eat, drink and be merry.


mongo,
A fault in your epistemology. Didn't your god give you free will, to go along with your RandObjectivist, freimarket, GodBangery?

Has the pure light of reason at last irradiated the mangyhole?

marjon
1 / 5 (8) Sep 03, 2010
Since all human choices are 'subjective' and biologically determined, eat, drink and be merry.


mongo,
A fault in your epistemology. Didn't your god give you free will, to go along with your RandObjectivist, freimarket, GodBangery?

Has the pure light of reason at last irradiated the mangyhole?


Why worry if all species are going to die off? It can't be the fault of humans who have no free will.
Modernmystic
4 / 5 (2) Sep 03, 2010
I actually do agree with you Caliban with qualifiers.

There is no reason to think we won't do something, or haven't already done something to the biosphere which will wipe it out, and us along with it.

So, like I said earlier I believe there are only two ways forward. One way is really to go backward, to abandon much of our technology and wind the clock significantly backwards. There are a host of reasons I don't think that this is likely, most of which are self evident to everyone here.

The other way is to push forward faster...especially in the field of nanotechnology, and energy production. Specifically fission/fusion for the latter. The problem with the former (nanotechnology) is that while it holds the promise to cure all our environmental problems, it also holds the potential to reduce the entire planet to grey goo. I'm not sure "we" as a collective civilization are ready for that awesome power.

We're out of time though...catch 22. I say damn the torps. full speed ahead.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2010
I think there is reason for some hope though. "We" have managed to keep our nuclear arsenals in check since the second world war...despite some heavy provocation. I honestly think the Kennedy administration saved the world during the Cuban missile crisis. I think Israel has been remarkably restrained (no matter what you may think of their politics) in the face of some very heavy pressures.

Drexler has given us ways in which we might avoid the unthinkable with nanotech., all we have to do is listen. If we do, we have a very very bright future indeed.
jsa09
4.8 / 5 (4) Sep 03, 2010
Funny, I wasn't aware we were in the middle of a massive extinction event worse than any other in the history of the planet. You'd think something like that would make the 11 o'clock news.


Ignorance does not create fact. Yes we are in a huge extinction event. It is still early days and started about 50,000 years ago.

In another 50,000 years it may well be over - for all of us. I know - as individuals we may live up to 100 years and as Marjon says drink, smoke and pollute till your hearts content for tomorrow may never come.

On the realistic side this story is about the fact that extinction on many species will have unknown consequences on the survivors. Will the rats and cats mutate and take over all the jobs of the other small creatures - of course they will - if they do not become extinct too.

Will any creatures larger than an earth worm survive the next 50,000 years - I hope so. It is a shame to see the last of the mega fauna may not even survive the next 100 years.
jsa09
5 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2010
After the mega fauna comes man. When man is the largest animal on the planet what then? The criteria for a large animal might be anything bigger than a shoe box. Then we may well continue in ignorance as Marjon wants and continue to not worry (after all we will all rise up in the raptures - or not). I knew a 7th day Adventist about 12 years ago that assured me that the second coming was happening in his life time. I doubt he still thinks so, he is dead now.
Modernmystic
3.8 / 5 (4) Sep 03, 2010
Some points of this discussion come down to one question. What is the minimum biosphere required to sustain human survival? Soybeans, cows, and plankton? I don't know, I sure as hell hope we never have to answer it as a practical matter...but it's worth pondering.
Caliban
3 / 5 (2) Sep 03, 2010
MM

Two biggest issues -make that three: Gotta find non-polluting, cheap(if not essentially free), unlimited or nearly so energy supply(ies).

Gotta find a way to reclaim, permanently sequester, and/or reuse massive amounts of toxins let loose in the biosphere, and replace them in our materials manufacturing. Maybe nanotech will make that job possible.

Lastly, gotta stabilise, and then reverse population growth, and find a way to provide everyone with a decent minimum living standard. all three have to be accomplished globally, or we die trying...

Oh, and I'm not interested in forfieting my life
-or anyone else's, for that matter- so that some purported "Elite" aka the powerful and wealthy, are allowed to hibernate(or ride herd, as it were) for some stretch of time while the rest of us expire in this bucket of filth that their overweening greed and arrogance has stewed up for us all.

Caliban
4 / 5 (4) Sep 03, 2010
Some points of this discussion come down to one question. What is the minimum biosphere required to sustain human survival? Soybeans, cows, and plankton? I don't know, I sure as hell hope we never have to answer it as a practical matter...but it's worth pondering.


Generally speaking, the fewer the inhabited ecological niches, the less robust the ecosystem, and therefore more susceptible to partial or complete disruption or collapse.

Given the complex, interdependent nature of the biosphere, I'd say that we can't afford to lose any more than we already have, with the possible exception of some numbers of insects and microbes- but, even then, they all serve a purpose, which is to compete, adapt, survive - and put the pressure on all others to do the same.

marjon
1 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2010
Gotta find non-polluting, cheap(if not essentially free), unlimited or nearly so energy supply(ies).

Surely the government will provide.
Marjon says drink, smoke and pollute till your hearts content for tomorrow may never come.

You missed my point. Some assert man has no free will and all is deterministic. If true, then how can man exercise any free will to change the world? Some of these same people believe man can and must do what ever must be done to save the world.
marjon
1 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2010
"New Species Discovered in Borneo" http://news.disco...ies.html
"Glass frog and snail-sucking snake discovered in Ecuador" http://www.guardi...scovered
"Since 1979, scientists have discovered around 300 species of life living around the hydrothermal vents. "
http://www.7wonde...nts.aspx
Caliban
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 03, 2010
"New Species Discovered in Borneo" http://news.disco...ies.html


That is beside the point. These are species already in existence- they didn't just appear overnight, and are just a very few of the estimated millions that are known to exist, but are yet to be described.

What we are concerned with here is the "natural" rate of extinction, versus those extinctions that are driven by human activity.

Read on:

http://news.monga...ucn.html

http://www.guardi...s-evolve

Still think it's a low-level risk?

Ronan
5 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
"You missed my point. Some assert man has no free will and all is deterministic. If true, then how can man exercise any free will to change the world? Some of these same people believe man can and must do what ever must be done to save the world." Y'know, the two positions aren't mutually exclusive, Marjon. One can argue that things will turn out well only if humans devote all their energies to ensuring that that's the case--that's a prediction, an "If A then B" statement, and we don't know whether or not A will be the case. It could be, and if so the determinism slinks in, and things'll turn out well. Then again, it might not end up being the state the world ends up in, and things won't turn out well.
Ronan
5 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
On a different topic (slightly off-topic, I'm afraid), a question for those of you who recognize that humans have so far had a really, really bad effect on Earth's collective biota, and hope for humans to figure out how to exist without causing all sorts of other life forms to cease existing. Suppose a best-case scenario; a fully green civilization rises and is highly successful, coexisting with what's left of Earth's ecosystems without degrading them further. This civilization lasts for...Oh, however many years you want. A thousand? Ten thousand? Whatever you wish.
Ronan
2 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
Are any of y'all concerned about what comes after that civilization finally, inevitably, collapses? About the eventual rise of some other civilization, the extreme improbability that it'll be nearly as friendly? About the second wave of the anthropogenic extinction that'll hit? I frankly have trouble imagining a scenario in which much Earth life at all survives humanity in the long term; even if we set Earth aside as a nature preserve and took to the stars, eventually old laws would crumble, and settlers would come back to the world that was, after all, best suited for them in the entire universe. I don't see how Earth life can ever hope to survive us in the long term, if we survive ourselves.
DamienS
5 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2010
Some assert man has no free will and all is deterministic. If true, then how can man exercise any free will to change the world?

That issue is moot or purely philosophical at best. Whether or not we have free will can never be proved. As such, the fact that we feel as we have free will should be enough to act accordingly (ie, responsibly).
DamienS
5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010
I don't see how Earth life can ever hope to survive us in the long term, if we survive ourselves

Well, if you're going to take the long view, the planet's surface will become a scorched hell-hole in a billion years or so (some say longer), but still unlivable for life. So, ultimately, all life on this planet is doomed unless we can jump ship and take some survivors with us (or their genetic blueprints). But I think we should focus on the here and now. Unchecked human population growth is our biggest threat.
ArtflDgr
2 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
How many years does it take for a invasive species to settle in and then vary to its environment more?

finches beaks changed in a whole lot less than a million, and that was just a few islands.

every one of those invasive species will end up changing very fast (but to us slow).
Djincs
1.8 / 5 (5) Sep 04, 2010
I think what we observe now cant be named mass extinction, it is nothing like dieing out of the dinosours, you cant see now all class and orders of animals to go extinct, yes lots of primates will endangered but many more are really successfull, we have lost some species of piggeons but just look how fine their cousines are everywhere, i dont say it is good a species to go extinct, but it is not that dramatical and it is far from:
"People don't realise that there will be very unpredictable consequences."
Djincs
2.8 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2010
Lots of animals get in the trap of the narrow specialisation, they exploit some niche really good(they evolve to do just that really good) and they are really succesfull but then the things change and they are doomed, and then the oportunistic species take the niche and a part of this species may start some sort of specialisation too, they will do more good than the rest of the population(becauce of this specialisation), and at the end this will lead to their end, this is a sort of trap and lots of species get in it, and at the end no species will live forever, the species deverge in to other species or die.
Djincs
5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010
At the previous coment I ment whole class and orders not-all class and orders...
yeh and not will endangered but are endangered, the next time i wont do 5 things simultaneously, at the end nothing is well done!
Modernmystic
3.5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010
This civilization lasts for...Oh, however many years you want. A thousand? Ten thousand? Whatever you wish.


For human civilization or civilization descended from human beings? Once we get our house in order as far as energy and we have mature nanotechnology the lifespan of our civilization will be on the order of the lifespan of the universe...probably 10^100 years.

Life on Earth only has about 500 million years left no matter how you cut it unless we start to move the orbit of the Earth outward because the sun is getting brighter and hotter. Best estimates put it at about half a billion years for the biosphere.
Ronan
5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2010
DamienS and ModernMystic: A point, I guess. You're probably quite right that life has only 0.5-1 billion years ahead of it; there's always a slim chance that some spore or other will get flung out to one of the planets (or moons) further out and find something that it can survive on, but that's not very likely at all (a lot can happen in a billion years, but even so...)

That said, there's a big difference between a near or total annihilation of Earth's life in a million years and the same event in a billion. Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean that it shouldn't be postponed.
Ronan
5 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
And ModernMystic...well, I guess it's all conjecture, so there's no real way to know which of us are closer to the truth. I just can't see how, given human nature, any civilization we created could last 1/10^96th as long as all that. Maybe if we did everything right--and kept on doing everything right--and no one made any stupid decisions--and nothing went wrong. But we won't do everything right, and we'll make mistakes, and there'll be some REALLY dumb decisions, and things will go wrong. We've evolved to exist as small tribal groups; becoming galaxy-spanning Great Old Ones is something that I can't see us managing successfully. But then again, it is all conjecture, so maybe you are right.
Parsec
5 / 5 (3) Sep 04, 2010
Funny, I wasn't aware we were in the middle of a massive extinction event worse than any other in the history of the planet. You'd think something like that would make the 11 o'clock news.

You don't watch the new much or read the science forums at all to be able to say that. This extinction event has been given a ton of media coverage. I have been aware of it personally for at least 30 years.
Modernmystic
4 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
Ronan, once we have virtually limitless energy, and ultimate power over matter (mature nanotechnology) very little could destroy us. We essentially will be able to move all our eggs out of one basket.

If one bonehead makes a big mistake it won't wipe the rest of us out. A lot of people don't understand what mature nanotechnology REALLY means. It's almost Godlike power...essentially if the laws of physics don't prevent it...we can do it. That also means that we're going to be able to change ourselves.

That's a scary proposition, but also a hopeful one. We may finally be able to shuck this reptile brain mentality we've had for 150,000 years of human existence and for 5,000 odd years of human civilization.

Moreover we will have no poverty as we know it now, many of the reasons for warfare will disappear rapidly, ALL of our ecological problems will be solved almost LITERALLY overnight. We will no longer need the Earth to sustain us so we'll no longer need to strain it.
Modernmystic
not rated yet Sep 04, 2010
I highly recommend everyone read this

http://e-drexler....nts.html

It's going to transform civilization FAR more than agriculture and the industrial revolution combined.
Modernmystic
4 / 5 (1) Sep 04, 2010
To continue:

I agree Ronan, we need to put off extinguishing species posthaste (I suggest making a DNA database of the most threatened ones so we can "resurrect" them when we have the means), but not at the expense of attaining a high level of technology rapidly. Once we have these technologies the "competition" between us and "nature" will be over...completely over.

Then we can even "save" the biosphere in 500 million years when the sun would have extinguished it. We can make an artificial sun, or move and shift the orbit of the Earth. We can become TRUE stewards of nature for those that have an interest to do so.

We can actually spread life as we know it throughout not just this Galaxy, but indeed the Universe if that's what's tickling our fancy as a type II or III civilization.

Our descendants have a potentially extremely exciting, fulfilling, and wondrous future if we can just keep it together for another 100-200 years...if.
marjon
1 / 5 (4) Sep 04, 2010
I highly recommend everyone read this

http://e-drexler....nts.html

It's going to transform civilization FAR more than agriculture and the industrial revolution combined.

If governments will stay out of the way:
"When policymakers proposed the NNI, politicians expressed enthusiasm that it would make the United States more economically competitive. Forecasts, not from intemperate prognosticators but sober-minded science managers, predicted that the international market for nano-goods would be $1 trillion by 2015. The production of these goods, supporters said, would require a new high-tech (and highly paid) workforce of some two million people, potentially leading to a major restructuring of the global workforce."
"The NNI was never just about “technology.” It was also a form of industrial policy, forming part of a hidden developmental state in which federal investment helps underwrite new commercial technologies. "
http://www.scienc...ss.org/2
kevinA
4 / 5 (4) Sep 05, 2010
Spaming your company should be the same laws as spam email. We should report all business that do this to one website who can fight back and spam them in return. Sign them up on every spam email list there is. Dirt bags.
The more you say we need to fix our sun or move animals to other planets the more you sound like aliens from another planet/demension. The truth is someday we will do these things if we can ever get past being animals that fight and destroy each other.
jsa09
5 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2010
@kev in one sense we are all aliens especially if you take literally the phrase "every man is an island". It is true we are all alone, our beliefs are our own. We communicate as best we can from our own island and sometimes the message gets across clearly and others it gets a bit garbled.

Many of us on our own islands think that we are animals while other feel that we are special and have privileges.

Those of us that feel that we are animals can then relate to our brothers and sisters of different species. Rather than feel that we are "our brothers keeper" some of us feel that from a position of more power we should act responsibly.

We have a choice for the future vision:

a) Continue doing what we always did
b) Change our way of living closer to the other animals
c) Change our way to have more control and do things better.
GSwift7
2 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2010
"We have a choice for the future vision:

a) Continue doing what we always did
b) Change our way of living closer to the other animals
c) Change our way to have more control and do things better."

d) Become more agressive, wipe out wasteful species, and take control of our planet away from mother nature.

What we'll really do is e) All of the above. Some of us will do one thing and others will do something else. Coordinating everyone to think the same way isn't going to happen. Even just the few people here on this site can't ever agree for more than a couple minutes.
HaveYouConsidered
2 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2010
Scientists are better at counting species dying off than estimating new speciation in the midst of environmental change (creating new opportunities for adaptation and exploitation). So there tends to be this alarmist short-sighted point of view. Also ignored is mankind's ability to adapt quickly; and our increasing ability to decode, store, re-engineer and synthesize DNA and artificial life forms to suit our future needs for food and medicine, and products in general, despite whatever natural selection does. AGW may be real; coastal cities may flood and displace millions of people--conservatives will just see this as economic opportunity (a stimulus to reconstruction industries, like they view the starting of wars). Through it all, life will go on. A few billion of us may die off in the process, but life will go on.
Skeptic_Heretic
2.5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2010
d) Become more agressive, wipe out wasteful species, and take control of our planet away from mother nature.

What we'll really do is e) All of the above. Some of us will do one thing and others will do something else. Coordinating everyone to think the same way isn't going to happen. Even just the few people here on this site can't ever agree for more than a couple minutes.

You're rather ignorant. The relative level of education is what allows people to understand concepts and form individual opinions. You've continually shown that your knowledge of science is lacking, especially within the realms of biology and ecology. This is probably why you continually parrot the opinions of other maligned individuals.
GSwift7
1.5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2010
What are you talking about Skeptic? If I were the type of person you claim, then I would be saying exactly the same things as you, and I'd be wrong all the time. Ignorance is usually too short sighted to see into a mirror I guess. Hey, props for the great insults in stead of your usual name-calling though.

If you really think that you're going to get people to change their nature, then I hardly think I'm the one being ignorant here, but you're entitled to your opinion of me I guess. I'll bet you actually get mad when people don't see things your way, don't you?
GSwift7
1.5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2010
Besides, I'm just agreeing with the article here. He says it is "unpredictable". I think that's a good charactarization of the situation actually. If you think you can predict the things he is talking about, then you should let him in on your secret method of fortune-telling. The author above is clearly also 'ignorant' in regard to his field of study compared to you. Let us all know when your book comes out.
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2010
What are you talking about Skeptic? If I were the type of person you claim, then I would be saying exactly the same things as you, and I'd be wrong all the time. Ignorance is usually too short sighted to see into a mirror I guess. Hey, props for the great insults in stead of your usual name-calling though.

If you really think that you're going to get people to change their nature, then I hardly think I'm the one being ignorant here, but you're entitled to your opinion of me I guess.
Unfortunately nature can't be changed if the one with ill intent has no need of further educating themselves.

Let's try this the academic way, exemplify your point. Tell us exactly how we'll master our world when we barely understand it.

The issue here is you have a rather large hole in your experience of the world. It leads me to assuming that you've grown up in a suburban setting, probably in America for your entire life. You have not a hint of how hard it can really get.
GSwift7
1.5 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2010
"Unfortunately nature can't be changed if the one with ill intent has no need of further educating themselves"

You continually confuse knowledge with opinion, and you think anyone who doesn't share yours has ill intent. Oh well.

"Let's try this the academic way, exemplify your point. Tell us exactly how we'll master our world when we barely understand it."

Take a deep breath, and read what I said above. I said that I don't think we'll do much of anything different than what we are doing right now. I don't think we can master it. To believe that we can is dilusional. Do you really think you'll get china or mexico to play along with environmental treaties, ever? As to a lack of experience, if you think altruistic forces will ever prevail over economic forces, then you are the more unworldly of the two of us. I was born in a house with no running water, BTW. The kitchen had a hand pump the bathroom was in the back yard, and hot water came from the wood stove. shoes? what shoes?
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2010
if you think altruistic forces will ever prevail over economic forces, then you are the more unworldly of the two of us. I was born in a house with no running water, BTW. The kitchen had a hand pump the bathroom was in the back yard, and hot water came from the wood stove. shoes? what shoes?

The communist record on the environment speaks for itself.
The first best defense to 'save the planet' is to create economy prosperity everywhere as quickly as possible. But the only proven way to accomplish this is with free markets and limited governemnt. A conundrum for the environmental socialists.
Javinator
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
Some assert man has no free will and all is deterministic. If true, then how can man exercise any free will to change the world?


You seem to not understand what deterministism is.

Deterministism states that your decisions are based on information you've collected from previous experiences. In a specific situation, given your previous experiences and knowledge, you will make the same decision every time. Further, this means everyone's decisions are similarly going to be the same every time.

Everything physical (ie. not within our brains) is only affeted by physics. Since our decisions are "determined" so is what happens to anything physical that we interact with. Anything that happens to anything physical that we don't interact with was also "determined" based on the initial conditions of the universe (since it's all just physical interactions).

Given our universe's starting conditions, there was only ever one possible outcome according to deterministics.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
The communist record on the environment speaks for itself. The first best defense to 'save the planet' is to create economy prosperity everywhere as quickly as possible. But the only proven way to accomplish this is with free markets and limited governemnt. A conundrum for the environmental socialists.
Not sure where you're getting the communist record from. China pollutes less than the US with 3x the population. The former USSR polluted less than the US with 2x the population. I don't think you really understand any of what you're talking about.
You continually confuse knowledge with opinion, and you think anyone who doesn't share yours has ill intent. Oh well.
No actually, but anyone who leaves the direct statement of their intent rather well obscured typically has ill intent. There's no need to hide your opinion if you feel your motives are just.
I said that I don't think we'll do much of anything different than what we are doing right now.
Exactly my point.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Sep 16, 2010
China pollutes less than the US with 3x the population. The former USSR polluted less than the US with 2x the population. I don't think you really understand any of what you're talking about.

Aral sea, Chernobyl, Three Gorges dam, smog from China that can be measured in the USA.....

"The socialist world suffers from the worst pollution on earth."
"According to the Worldwatch Institute, more than 90 percent of the trees in the pine forests in China’s Sichuan province have died because of air pollution. I"
"Government-owned power plants are another example of public-sector pollution. "

http://www.thefre...llution/
GSwift7
2 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
"No actually, but anyone who leaves the direct statement of their intent rather well obscured typically has ill intent. There's no need to hide your opinion if you feel your motives are just. "

That may or may not be true, but I don't care either way. My only intent here is entertainment because I enjoy debate. I would hardly call that a devious plan. Are you under the impression that anything useful is gained by the discussion threads on this site? I think it serves little pupose other than fun.

So you disagree with me, that the human race will continue as it has been? If you forsee some drastic change in human nature in our future, please share. That's not to say that I think people are good the way we are. I'm just saying that any huge cultural shift is unlikely, don't you think?
GSwift7
1.5 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2010
Yes Marjon, Skeptic has clearly lost his mind this time. I think he needs to go take a swim off the coast near Mexico city. I don't think it's only a comunist vs non-comunist division though. It's also a third world vs industrialized division. It's also not just a matter of the quantity of polution, but also the quality of the polution. Mexico and China both lack any serious environmental control in regard to the use of CFC's, Lead, Pesticide, Mercury, etc. and they certainly don't have any problem dumping stuff into the ocean whenever and wherever they feel like it. They have policies and sign treaties, but they don't enforce them at all. They have poor land use policies, no efforts to protect species (well maybe except pandas), and the list goes on and on. Sure, evil America uses more stuff per person, but we go way farther out of our way than the average human around the globe to be responsible. Hey, and we even invented velcro. We gotta get creds for that, right?
marjon
1 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2010
I don't think it's only a comunist vs non-comunist division though. It's also a third world vs industrialized division.

What it is really about is property rights and responsibilities.
If no one owns the property, it will be exploited by all.
When locals were able to own the profits from elephant tourism, the elephants were better protected. Current laws prevent them from trading in ivory which would encourage further conservation on their part. Tragedy of the commons is well documented and government control of the 'commons' has not been all that great either. Forest fires on US govt land is one example.
Conservation groups purchase land to preserve it.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2010
Yes, Marjon, I agree with that. There's an unfortunate catch though. Not everyone agrees on the best way to preserve things, and different people have different priorities. In regard to forest fires, at least the US government is learning about the need for frequent small fires. They may even have figured it out soon enough to preserve the giant redwood stands in CA. Another example of unintended consequences in regard to the redwoods are the beetles that eat the pinecones, once thought to be a pest but who are actually a part of the redwood life cycle, helping to spread the seeds. Live and learn I guess. Kind of ironic that the pre-historic native americans knew about controlled burns in those forests whereas we forgot.
jsa09
5 / 5 (1) Sep 21, 2010
Also sad state of affairs when worlds resources imply sustainable human population with good living standards is about 1 - 2 billion. With current population above 7 billion and expected to double in next 50 years life will be interesting for the survivors.
marjon
1 / 5 (4) Sep 21, 2010
Also sad state of affairs when worlds resources imply sustainable human population with good living standards is about 1 - 2 billion.

Who says?
The reason most are in poverty is due to tyrannical governments.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2010
Aral sea, Chernobyl, Three Gorges dam, smog from China that can be measured in the USA
The first two are Russian projects that aren't linked with China at all. The third is a hydroelectric plant that emits zero. On a per capita basis who pollutes more, the US or China? Answer is the US. China isn't even in the top 50.

FYI Marjon, the Worldwatch institute retracted that statement shortly after they made it, because they were wrong.
Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2010
Happy to see that so many are utilising WWI as a resource- those people have been keeping a very close eye on things for quite some time now, and rarely miss. Too bad our Elected seem to be largely unaware of the Institute's existence.

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