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Thu May 3, 2012, 09:04 PM

Thoughts on the Evolution of Our Species.

Following is my response to GliderGuider's "What If A Collapse Happened And Nobody Noticed?" (http://www.democraticunderground.com/1002639524); posted herewith per requests:

I am 56 years old. I read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring when I was 12 years old. When I finished her iconic treatise, I made two fundamental decisions: 1) I would not bear children, and 2) I would be an activist for the rest of my life. I am so glad that I achieved both those goals, especially considering where humanity finds itself at present...

During my brief tenure on this planet, I've witnessed:

--the heavy metal pollution of this planet's groundwater

--the nationwide existence of 'Superfund Sites' that are so toxic, massive amounts of our tax dollars have been allocated to 'clean up' these abandoned, hazardous areas (visit Superfund websites and you'll find "Superfund for Kids!")

--an exponential increase in diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases directly linked to the consumption of refined sugars and animal products (let's not even BEGIN to discuss hydrogenated oils...)

--the 'War on Drugs' (an ironic ploy that benefits the uber wealthy in two primary ways: more money, more money, more money; and keeping the hoi polloi distracted and addicted)

--a pile of floating garbage--in surface area, the size of the state of Texas--in the doldrums of the Pacific Ocean AND in the Atlantic

--a measurable decline in the amount of food fish we pull out of our oceans and lakes

--the steady decline of the honeybee population worldwide (called "Colony Collapse Disorder" by the scientists who are 'struggling' to identify the causes)

--nutritional deficiencies in almost every fruit or vegetable harvested since the 70s

--vast swaths of soil erosion and silt runoff

--measurable declines in the quality and flavor of most produce

--GLOBAL monopolies on seed stocks

--Genetically modified foods (should I mention Pink Slime?)

--cross contamination of vegetable foodstuffs from cattle and dairy operations

--inhumane treatment of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, calves, chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks

--Bhopal

--Three Mile Island

--the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

--Chernobyl

--Fukushima

--Monsanto (need I say more?)

--Global Climate Change

--a growing percentage of adults (as of the 90s, this figure was forty percent) who are functionally illiterate (thus, easily manipulated)

--a now ubiquitous 'message delivery system' (television) that has turned a significant number of humans into distracted, misinformed zombies

--a toxic, dangerous economic system that has concentrated the wealth of this planet into the hands of a minuscule fraction of our planet's global population (writing the representative percentage requires scientific notation with a large negative exponent).

--destructive, endless 'wars' based on lies and profitability (and, don't even get me started about Depleted Uranium)

--a radical shift to exponential growth (read 'change') that few recognize and even fewer discuss.

Sigh...

I don't have time to list all of the other issues I've been witnessing. This would take weeks, if not months.

I'm watching as more and more of us resort to 'react' mode, letting our inchoate fears and frustrations manifest as road rage, name-calling, sarcasm, and other forms of mental, emotional and physical violence. Do I think we humans are experiencing a critical tipping point in our evolution as a species? You bet. Do I think we can do anything about it? I'm skeptical, although #Occupy gives me a modest measure of hope.

We’ve reached a stage in our evolution where the tiniest stressors create the most enormous fissures. I find it disheartening that some among us dismiss concerns about these events as “end time fear.” The grim fact remains: we have no frame of reference for what IS happening.

(BTW, I don’t think we’re witnessing ‘end times,’ because this incredible planet WILL survive our species’ vile, narcissistic hedonism.)

87 replies, 10276 views

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Arrow 87 replies Author Time Post
Reply Thoughts on the Evolution of Our Species. (Original post)
chervilant May 2012 OP
hunter May 2012 #1
RobertEarl May 2012 #2
Zalatix May 2012 #3
chervilant May 2012 #6
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #27
RobertEarl May 2012 #32
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #33
RobertEarl May 2012 #36
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #40
RobertEarl May 2012 #43
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #70
RobertEarl May 2012 #71
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #72
RobertEarl May 2012 #78
flvegan May 2012 #4
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #5
chervilant May 2012 #7
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #12
GliderGuider May 2012 #13
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #15
GliderGuider May 2012 #16
chervilant May 2012 #20
chervilant May 2012 #19
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #23
chervilant May 2012 #25
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #29
RobertEarl May 2012 #34
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #38
RobertEarl May 2012 #42
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #45
RobertEarl May 2012 #48
muriel_volestrangler May 2012 #50
GliderGuider May 2012 #8
chervilant May 2012 #9
GliderGuider May 2012 #10
chervilant May 2012 #21
Wind Dancer May 2012 #11
chervilant May 2012 #17
hifiguy May 2012 #14
chervilant May 2012 #18
Whisp May 2012 #22
Egalitarian Thug May 2012 #24
Rittermeister May 2012 #39
Egalitarian Thug May 2012 #46
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #26
chervilant May 2012 #28
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #30
chervilant May 2012 #31
Zalatix May 2012 #35
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #41
Zalatix May 2012 #49
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #73
Zalatix May 2012 #74
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #76
Zalatix May 2012 #79
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #80
Zalatix May 2012 #81
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #82
Zalatix May 2012 #83
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #84
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #85
Zalatix May 2012 #86
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #87
Warren DeMontague May 2012 #77
4th law of robotics May 2012 #37
Odin2005 May 2012 #44
Egalitarian Thug May 2012 #47
chervilant May 2012 #51
Egalitarian Thug May 2012 #55
chervilant May 2012 #57
raouldukelives May 2012 #52
chervilant May 2012 #53
sabrina 1 May 2012 #54
FarCenter May 2012 #56
chervilant May 2012 #58
FarCenter May 2012 #59
chervilant May 2012 #63
dana_b May 2012 #60
FarCenter May 2012 #61
dana_b May 2012 #66
Tierra_y_Libertad May 2012 #62
chervilant May 2012 #64
sabrina 1 May 2012 #65
chervilant May 2012 #67
GliderGuider May 2012 #68
chervilant May 2012 #69
GliderGuider May 2012 #75

Response to chervilant (Original post)

Thu May 3, 2012, 09:31 PM

1. This.

The good news is this current state isn't sustainable. But that's the bad news too.

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Response to hunter (Reply #1)

Thu May 3, 2012, 10:22 PM

2. Right

Think of collapse as a new beginning. A new opportunity that in a mere 10 thousand years will usher in a new age.

------------

I agree with chervilant and could have truthfully written much the same OP.

Years ago, however, i decided that the cause of saving the present day environment was a lost cause and that all my fighting was doing was bumming my trip. So i took up the mantra of: if you don't think about it, it doesn't matter. Have felt better ever since.

Still, the coming human suffering concerns me greatly, but what can i do but offer a weak simulation of Paul Revere' ride?

Plus in light of my belief in reincarnation (biblicaly speaking: everlasting life) i ponder that if humans go extinct, i can't be reincarnated as a human. Humans simply must survive if i am to have a future.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #2)

Thu May 3, 2012, 10:39 PM

3. "Think of collapse as a new beginning." LORDY, I got flamed for saying the same thing.

 

well said!!!

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #2)

Fri May 4, 2012, 07:51 AM

6. I can see your point

Of late, I've begun to pull back--become an observer, if you will. I am still an activist, mostly with my writing. But, I recognize that, individually, we have little influence over national or world events. Plus, the PTB have been quite successful promoting hate and divisiveness among the Hoi Polloi. #Occupy gives me hope we can still coalesce to effect change.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #2)

Fri May 4, 2012, 05:35 PM

27. And, to your mind, reincarnation works in a time-linear, 1:1 fashion?

Because you realize that there are way more people around now than there used to be.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #27)

Fri May 4, 2012, 06:19 PM

32. Time? Time is nothing

Considering the atoms in our bodies are 14 billion years old.

Reincarnation into human form works on quantity. I figure there are about 7 billion souls that have taken the human body, now.

If there are but 1 billion people then there can't be more than 1 billion souls in human bodies. If there are no human bodies.... then i dunno.

There may be an unlimited number of souls. It has been said that souls used to occupy anything and everything, but that the human body was the best vehicle for souls to dig on life. So here we are.

I like being human, that's for sure, and if there are no humans for me to occupy a human body, then what am I?

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #32)

Fri May 4, 2012, 06:32 PM

33. You're not understanding me. By time linear I mean the "soul" progresses linearly fwd through time.

Otherwise, your statement about "no human bodies for me to occupy" would be meaningless. A state of humanity (I.e. extinct) is dependent upon a moment or moments in time.

I'm also not too hung up on making the concept of reincarnation work or not work from a logical perspective, but it seems to me that it would make far more sense for there only to be one "soul" of which all entities an existences are facets. Sort of like how you can cut a Pizza into as many slices as you want, it's still one pizza. Add to that the infinite recursive yet non repeating nature of, say, fractals, where every piece of the whole can contain the self similar larger infinite picture, and... Well.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #33)

Fri May 4, 2012, 06:45 PM

36. describe a 'soul'

The best i can come up with to describe a soul is Force of GOD. Meaning the force which Generates, then Organizes Dirt, into the lifeforms we experience.

"It is all happening at once". Therefore time is immaterial. It is a dream. But the force is and always was and will be. If that force, and now i am dreaming, will allow me to take on a human body, as is my desire, then there has to be a mother. No mother, no me as a human. I'd have to be something else.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #36)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:30 PM

40. ...the concept of now is contingent upon time

anyway, you brought it up.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #40)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:51 PM

43. no

This is now.

And this is now.

And this is now.

What you wrote was then, and that was then, but it was now.

It will be now when you write again, but i think for now you are a bit flabbergasted? <smile>

Time is not now. Now is not time.

Look at it this way: The power is now. You can change the future now. You can change the past now.

As an example: You can say now that you should have never started writing in this thread, that it was a waste of time. Or, now you could say that you are glad you started writing in this thread. Now changes everything, at least it can if used to do so.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #43)

Sun May 6, 2012, 08:52 PM

70. You should write a book, with ironclad reasoning like that.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #70)

Sun May 6, 2012, 08:56 PM

71. heh

I thought you might have been smart enough to at least understand it somewhat.

But that's fine. Close your mind and keep believing that time really runs and controls your life and there isn't anything you can do about it. Like most people.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #71)

Sun May 6, 2012, 09:12 PM

72. Here's one for you. Is the universe really expanding, or is everything in it just shrinking?


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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #72)

Mon May 7, 2012, 12:26 PM

78. Is the universe really expanding, or is everything in it just shrinking?

In your mind, I'd have to say, YES.

Really, everything exists IN YOUR MIND.

You can ignore some things, allow some things to control you, or simply accept that it doesn't matter one way or the other.

Question: does time matter to other sentient beings like say a dog?

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Thu May 3, 2012, 10:42 PM

4. Evolution, or devolution?

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 07:17 AM

5. "evolution as a species"? That sounds biological

and yet nothing you list has anything to do with genetic changes in humans.

Why are you saying 'as a species'? All your concerns are to do with the behaviour of societies and cultures (or other species, such as bees).

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #5)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:01 AM

7. Actually,

why do you (apparently) perceive evolution as strictly biological? The term can be, and often is, used to denote any process of development. Socio-cultural change is often described using the word 'evolution.'

Furthermore, I say 'as a species,' because I'm a macro-level thinker, and always have been. I look at the bigger picture, because we're "all Bozos on this Bus" and we cannot exit this 'bus' at the next galaxy. Eventually--if we are to survive as a species--we must learn to live AND work together for the benefit of all (a girl can dream...).

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Response to chervilant (Reply #7)

Fri May 4, 2012, 11:43 AM

12. It's because you say "as a species"

which doesn't make you sound like "a macro-level thinker". It makes you sound like someone who wants to talk about a biological species. Almost nothing you talk about in the OP is relevant to survival as a species. Really, only global climate change can get close to that category - and, while that might make parts of the earth uninhabitable by us without evolution, it won't make everywhere so - we are a remarkably adaptable species, that has managed to thrive in pretty much every land environment on the planet.

"We must learn to live AND work together for the benefit of all" is about society, and culture - and you seem the be concentrating almost entirely on the developed world culture. It's not about the species.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #12)

Fri May 4, 2012, 12:03 PM

13. Leave no nit un-picked...

The point seemed absolutely perspicuous to me. You might save critiques like this for the peer review of the post when it appears in Nature.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #13)

Fri May 4, 2012, 12:41 PM

15. The 'nit' is in the thread title

so it seems pretty central to me. It did take my post to get the information that they're not talking about biological evolution.

To be honest, I still can't see a coherent message in the OP. They think human society has evolved to the point that "the tiniest stressors create the most enormous fissures", and that "we humans are experiencing a critical tipping point in our evolution as a species". But a tipping point into what? They don't say. The message seems to be nothing more specific than "things are going to be very different".

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #15)

Fri May 4, 2012, 01:23 PM

16. "things are going to be very different" can be a very valuable message

Especially when people are totally attached to things being more or less the same, but with chrome bumpers.

Do you know about cascading failures in non-resilient systems? That's essentially what the OP was talking about with tiny stressors creating enormous fissures. I think they are beginning to show up in the international financial system and the knock-on effects of the Japanese earthquake.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #15)

Fri May 4, 2012, 02:00 PM

20. Furthermore,

you might want to review Calhoun's work with rats. We seldom acknowledge the import of overpopulation, but Calhoun's research with rats suggests that when a critical level of overpopulation occurs, the outcome isn't pretty. With Calhoun's rats, abnormal sexual behavior, hyper-aggression, eating their young, and increased mortality are a few of the problems that occurred. With humans, well...isn't it past time we acknowledge that our species has passed a critical tipping point?

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #12)

Fri May 4, 2012, 01:44 PM

19. Well, now,

I wonder why you're so bent upon asserting such a narrow definition of the word "evolution"?

I readily admit to being a social scientist (MS in Sociology). As a social scientist, I fully recognize the import of our socio-cultural behaviors, particularly our economic behaviors. Your insistence on negating my perspective on the grounds that evolution is a biological event ignores the relevance of all of our social behaviors. On a macro-level, our social constructs are threatening our very existence, and this is an inarguable fact.

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Response to chervilant (Reply #19)

Fri May 4, 2012, 03:23 PM

23. It's easily arguable

You haven't actually put forward any decent argument that the existence of the species is threatened. What you list in the OP does not threaten the species. The complete collapse of all civilisation would not threaten the species - which is distributed around the world, with a wide variety of food sources and, as well as wide knowledge of agriculture, hunting and gathering, a highly flexible omnivorous diet.

It's not the use of 'evolution' that's the problem. It's you insistence that our whole species is at an unidentified 'tipping point' (tipping into what? Polygamy? Cannibalism? Becoming cyborgs?) and that it's existence is threatened that are a problem.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #23)

Fri May 4, 2012, 04:41 PM

25. Wow.

You might want to hone your critical thinking skills. I have not 'insisted' that our species is at an unidentified 'tipping point.' I ASKED if it isn't time to acknowledge that we've passed a critical tipping point. The 'point' I'm most focused on is the befouling of every conceivable resource on this planet--something, apparently, that is of little consequence to you.

And, I now realize you are being argumentative for argument's sake, so I'm done with you. Ta-ta, and welcome to my list.

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Response to chervilant (Reply #25)

Fri May 4, 2012, 05:41 PM

29. Read your OP again

"Do I think we humans are experiencing a critical tipping point in our evolution as a species? You bet".

Then you've changed that to "has passed a tipping point". Which is probably even worse as a claim. It what way is our species fundamentally different to how we used to be?

Yes, there are plenty of environmental problems in the world today. Environmental problems are not new, though. Groups have ruined their agricultural land, depleted animal resources, cut down all their forests, and so on. I don't think shortsightedness is something brand new for humans.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #29)

Fri May 4, 2012, 06:34 PM

34. Butting in here

If we mean by a critical point in the evolution of our species that our species now can kill nearly all our species in minutes, can you see the gist?

Or that our species is now so dependent on external, indeed, global sourcing, and that were those sources to be taken away our species could barely survive?

Sure, we are adaptable, but the critical point is that our adaptability is no longer needed because how hard is it to go to a store and get food or travel many miles just by driving? No farming and no walking. That is possibly an evolution that will lead to a mass collapse of our species.

After a collapse, the only survivors will be those that have always lived off the land. Human evolution will just have to start all over. Again.

Surely you don't think humans have not evolved in modern society, do you?

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #34)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:13 PM

38. Nuclear war could count for your 1st point; but that wasn't in the OP

The OP is about various environmental problems, which are big, but survivable by the species - even global warming, in some parts of the world.

Our species can easily survive without global sourcing. Countries can't; 'civilisation' can't. But, as you say, humans have not evolved in modern society, and plenty of people have the knowledge and experience, in various places all over the world, to survive without civilisation. Societies and cultures would die, but not the species. And if there are bound to be survivors, then the species is not under threat of extinction. And I don't think the survivors will be different, when you look at what they have all in common with each other, with what all humans have in common now. Just different cultures, just as we still have some different cultures on the planet.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #38)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:38 PM

42. Extinction?

You are the first to mention extinction.

So why go sideways like that? Try to stick to the topic.

Topic is: evolution of our species and whether or not that evolution has reached a point that it will no longer evolve but rather devolve.

If you think we as a specie are not evolving, then are we stopped?

My premise is that we have been evolving but most of our evolution is no longer conducive to further evolution.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #42)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:01 PM

45. You, in reply #2: "if humans go extinct"

But, more relevantly for this sub-thread:

#7: "if we are to survive as a species"
#19: "our social constructs are threatening our very existence"

so, no, I'm not the first to mention extinction.

We're not evolving any more than we have for some time (there may be some spread of natural immunity to certain diseases, for instance, or further spread of adult lactose tolerance). I cannot see any evolutionary 'tipping point' that has either just happened, or is happening now. And no-one has tried to describe it in this thread yet, either, so it looks like no-one can.

It seems to me that, far from the being part of the topic, you are the first to bring up 'devolving'. What do you define as 'devolving'? It's not a word I ever use, or see used, biologically. I have no idea what you mean by "most of our evolution is no longer conducive to further evolution".

Hang on - I've found a biological definition for 'devolution'. But it doesn't look good, for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devolution_%28biology%29 I'd have thought anyone would want to keep away from such a term.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #45)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:33 PM

48. You are the first in this thread, geez

And your communication skills show that you are not reading and replying but rather just being argumentative. Can't blame chervilant from ignoring you? Do you get that often?

The word was devolve. I meant it to be opposite of evolve which means change for more survivability. Devolve would be change for the worse. Evolve would be more adaptation, devolve less adaptation.

Until recent times humans were very adaptable. Now we are not so adaptable. Our changing of Earth's environment makes adaptability nearly impossible since our species won't be able to adapt to the changes we have wrought. Once the protective things we have invented blow up or can't be sustained any longer, our species is in for a world of hurt.

We are fixing to lose it.

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Response to RobertEarl (Reply #48)

Sat May 5, 2012, 05:21 AM

50. You're the one nitpicking over the use of a noun versus a verb, or synonyms

and then you think my "communication skills" are a problem? You think I'm the one not reading, when I've showed you've ignored the replies earlier in this sub-thread? Jeez. You're projecting your own faults.

OK, so you have thrown your lot in with those who misunderstand evolution - you think humans are somehow changing to become less adaptable. No, even if you mean the adaptability of our cultures and knowledge, it's still increasing - with the advances of science, we understand genetics better, allowing us to breed more useful plants and animals. We have a better understanding of ecology, and of ways of obtaining energy through, for instance, photovoltaics. We can treat disease better. And the basics of agriculture continue, with knowledge passed on through generations. We can adapt to the problems we currently have.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:21 AM

8. What a great time to be alive!

To be a witness to changes this dramatic, to see the pinnacle of a global civilization in action and to be aware of the beginning of the slide is a gift from the gods. As Slim Pickins said so eloquently in the last scene of Dr. Strangelove, "Waaaaa hooooo!!!!"

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #8)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:27 AM

9. My absolute FAVE ending of a movie! n/t

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Response to chervilant (Reply #9)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:33 AM

10. Same here. By the way

I noticed your Firesign reference up above. I think having a strongly developed sense of the absurd helps one dig the nuggets out of shit like this. Firesign loosened up our thinking like a big bowl of castor oil flakes with real glycerine vibrafoam...

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #10)

Fri May 4, 2012, 02:02 PM

21. Indeed!!

I was introduced to Firesign Theater whilst hitting the books hard at Rice University. I LOVE that quote, as you can tell.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 10:34 AM

11. +1000

Beautifully written although quite depressing.

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Response to Wind Dancer (Reply #11)

Fri May 4, 2012, 01:23 PM

17. Thank you.

I have been practicing, can you tell?

(I do think that we humans have to be faced with catastrophe in order to effect macro-level change--we've got an opportunity here, and I hope we rise to the challenges we'll be facing.)

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 12:20 PM

14. The longer I live the more convinced I am that Gene Roddenberry

was something of a prophet.

The day will come when the system collapses - Roddenberry thought, at least implicitly that there would be a nuclear exchange somewhere at some point in the mid-21st century that reduced Earth's population to a more sustainable level and destroyed the current economic system. What would arise in its place, he speculated, was something like the Jeffersonian ideal of self-contained smaller scale communities that would have to confront and deal with the new reality that the only alternatives were cooperation or extinction. I suspect that he was not that far off.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #14)

Fri May 4, 2012, 01:24 PM

18. Having been a geek child,

I immersed myself in science fiction. Gene Roddenberry is one of my favorite creative intellects.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 02:07 PM

22. sometimes I get episodes of paralyzing fear about these things

 

not for myself but for my kid and everyones kids.

it's terrifying what they will have when/if they become our age.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 04:37 PM

24. I think our problem in this arena is a lack of evolution.

 

As a species, if we are in fact a single species, we're just not that bright. Exceptional individuals pop up and the rest of us are happy to claim credit for their accomplishments, but then more often than not, we go on to demonstrate that we have no understanding of that accomplishment.

And so here we are, in a race between the stupidity of the majority and the discoveries and implementation of great ideas from the exceptional.
K&R

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #24)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:20 PM

39. Compared to every other species

we're incredibly bright. A very dumb human is on par with a brilliant chimp.

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Response to Rittermeister (Reply #39)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:02 PM

46. As long as we set the criteria for judgment, you're right. OTOH, I think Douglas Adams

 

was more accurate than funny in his take in this issue;

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Fri May 4, 2012, 05:31 PM

26. The world is becoming more prosperous, more connected, and more peaceful.

Yes, there are big problems, but there is also cause for incredible optimism.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/22/world-less-violent-stats_n_1026723.html

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #26)

Fri May 4, 2012, 05:39 PM

28. Despite the questionable source,

I always appreciate optimism.

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Response to chervilant (Reply #28)

Fri May 4, 2012, 05:42 PM

30. What's questionable? Huffpo? The data is the data.

I mean, one can dispute the interpretations, but the numbers don't lie.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #30)

Fri May 4, 2012, 05:44 PM

31. As with ANY data

in the social sciences, the devil is in the details.

I don't regard HuffPo as a reputable source, and I always wonder whose agenda(s) motivates the M$M's conclusions.

Again, I do appreciate the optimism.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #26)

Fri May 4, 2012, 06:38 PM

35. Sorry, I'm laughing too hard to post a response

 

and, apparently, laughing too hard to type 'laugh' properly in the subject line, lol!!!

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #35)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:32 PM

41. Yeah, shit was way better 10,000 years ago.

Seriously. The end is nigh, yeah, well, the end is ALWAYS fucking nigh.

I know, wur doomed, wur doomed.

Except, there are reasons for optimism. We live in incredible times.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #41)

Fri May 4, 2012, 10:33 PM

49. Okay, I'm done busting a gut here. In all seriousness, here is why you are so wrong.

 

Did you even read the OP?

All this "wealth" you are talking about is unsustainable. We are LITERALLY borrowing against our children's future with the way that we are amassing this wealth.

Our wealth, of which you speak, is built on an ecological house that is quite analogous to the real estate bubble that popped in 2008.

For me or the OP to be wrong you must categorically deny:
1) global warming.
2) the acidification of our oceans as a result of our massive carbon footprint. Which, mind you, we've outsourced a lot of that carbon footprint to Asia, and gave ourselves a pat on the back for eliminating much of it here.
3) air pollution. Both here, and in the third world, to whom we've outsourced a lot of it.
4) same with water pollution. Plus, we are facing a growing shortage of drinkable water, worldwide.
5) the giant continent of discarded plastic, twice the size of Texas, drifting in the Pacific Ocean.
6) the mercury from coal fired power plants, that is poisoning the world's sealife

And that's the short list.

Do you, or do you deny, any of the above?

No, I don't expect a straight answer to any of this.

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #49)

Sun May 6, 2012, 09:21 PM

73. I didn't say there are not problems.

If you think you're gonna "gotcha" me as some sort of global warming denier...

When'd you get here, last week?

You have no idea who you're talking to, much less my environmental bona fides.

(and yes, that's a deliberate Coen Bros. reference)

Beyond that, I expected exactly this sort of whiny, grousy, bleating and moaning reaction when I posted in he thread. Nice to know that in a world of quantum chaos, some reactions are still predictable.

Sorry- really I am- to spoil the pity party by putting a little punch in the turdbowl.


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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #73)

Sun May 6, 2012, 10:14 PM

74. Denial is your friend.

 

You want to convince people to ignore the fact that global warming is threatening to flood our coast lines and alter the world's geography, displacing millions of people.

You want to convince people to ignore the issue of carbon-based acidification of our oceans, which is negatively affecting the biodiversity of sea life. You don't think this is going to cause lasting, catastrophic problems for society, much less ocean biodiversity.

You want to convince people that we are not heading into a fresh water crisis of unprecedented proportions.

You want people to believe that our pattern of contributing to, indeed causing these problems, can go on indefinitely without resulting in a major world environmental, biodiversity and resource crisis?

Basically, you're just one step ahead of the Freepers, in that while you don't deny global warming, you instead wish to convince people to ignore a whole slew of facts that shows that our civilization cannot survive on its current path of wasteful consumption.

I never expected you to think you could get away with flashing your environmental "bona fides" while trying to convince me to stick my head in the sand along with yours.

You're free to leave this pity party and go back to your blissful world of denial.

In response to your environmental bona fides, I am going to leave you with two words that you should recognize if you are as smart as you say you are. A historical object lesson about what has actually happened when humans overconsume their natural resources. Two words that will explain why your argument is wrong-headed, and why you suddenly abandoned this discussion:

Rapa Nui.

Have a nice day!

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #74)

Mon May 7, 2012, 06:29 AM

76. I do?

Where?

I made one post in this thread, originally, and nowhere did I say anything resembling what you just spewed out. You seem to be having arguments with hallucinatory people who aren't there.

I "abandoned this discussion" because I have other shit to do right now. Fine, you win. You're right, we're doomed. Dead, even.

Shit, according to Mr. Malthus, we've already been dead for some time, now. Oh No!

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #76)

Mon May 7, 2012, 01:31 PM

79. Wait, you don't recall saying this?

 

Seriously. The end is nigh, yeah, well, the end is ALWAYS fucking nigh.

I know, wur doomed, wur doomed.

Except, there are reasons for optimism. We live in incredible times.

The example of Rapa Nui refutes you on this. There are historical examples where overconsumption has destroyed a civilization and left people permanently destitute (except that outsiders came to the rescue).

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #79)

Mon May 7, 2012, 03:52 PM

80. The "example" of rapa nui is relevant to the experience of isolated island civilizations.

That's it.

Yes, I did say that. I did not, however, deny global warming, ocean acidification, or say any of the other goofy words you put in my mouth.

We have big problems, but we also have big opportunities. Interesting times. The earth is not rapa nui, and existence is not a zero sum game.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #80)

Mon May 7, 2012, 09:16 PM

81. uh, yeah, just like greenhouse gases are relevant only to greenhouses.

 

You think that the global assault of wastefulness and eco-unfriendliness that humanity is waging on global natural resources won't result in a global catastrophe?

Really, is that lame, flimsy argument the BEST that you can do?

What we're doing to the Rain Forests in the Amazon is enough to cause us big problems. It's a massive carbon sink and a source of oxygen. Really, your "bona fides" are questionable at best.

The Earth is Rapa Nui, it's just larger. It will just take longer for us to screw things up and cause a catastrophe.


I give you one thing - at least you're not like that pro-China guy who wants to launch an anti-choice war against reproduction. Instead, you are on the exact OPPOSITE extreme from him. You're way deep into denial.

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #81)

Mon May 7, 2012, 10:17 PM

82. I think the earth is a complex system. Obviously, it's going to get warmer.

I don't think a wonderful, Gne Roddenberry star trek style future is a slam dunk, but neither do I think that wholesale global catastrophe and civilization collapse is inevitable. I think the best chance for getting us out of the current problems is the thing that got us in; ie our brains and creativity, our curiosity and our technology.

What I DON'T understand is why, in addition to doggedly putting words in my mouth tht I havent said, you feel the need to fling insults at me like so much poo. Your position is, essentially, that we're fucked and its hopeless, right? Okay, then (another Coen bros. reference!) ...who cares if I'm in denial? What possible difference does it make? Denial might be the sane response.

Of course, if I'm right and you're wrong, you my have stuck yourself in a bleak, fatalistic headspace for no good reason at all. But maybe you like that kind of thing, I dunno.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #82)

Mon May 7, 2012, 11:14 PM

83. I'm not putting any words in your mouth.

 

You wrote:
Seriously. The end is nigh, yeah, well, the end is ALWAYS fucking nigh.

I know, wur doomed, wur doomed.

Except, there are reasons for optimism. We live in incredible times.


I wrote:
All this "wealth" you are talking about is unsustainable. We are LITERALLY borrowing against our children's future with the way that we are amassing this wealth.

Our wealth, of which you speak, is built on an ecological house that is quite analogous to the real estate bubble that popped in 2008.

What I wrote is absolutely true and perfectly logical. You have no counter argument against that. You haven't even tried to find any errors in that statement.

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #83)


Response to Zalatix (Reply #83)

Tue May 8, 2012, 12:47 AM

85. Because what you wrote is not an argument, it's an opinion.

You believe that civilization is unsustainable. Lot of people throughout history have held that opinion. However, it's still here now. Like I said, we'll see.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #85)

Tue May 8, 2012, 01:09 AM

86. I believe civilization as we run it now is unsustainable.

 

We cannot keep spewing greenhouse gases into the air into perpetuity. We must change this.

We cannot keep destroying forests forever. Eventually they will run out. Rapa Nui learned this the hard way.

We cannot keep pumping our farmland full of poison spray.


Civilization has to change and abandon these MAJOR pillars of wastefulness and pollution that currently sustain it, or there will be a total collapse.

That is, unless you believe in magic, and the inexhaustible nature of natural resources.

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #86)

Tue May 8, 2012, 04:32 AM

87. That's not the same thing as saying civilization itself is inherently unsustainable.

Yes, we have big problems. They very well may even be insurmountable.

But I have great faith in the ingenuity of the human animal, or at least some of us.

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #74)

Mon May 7, 2012, 06:35 AM

77. what you fail to understand is, it's not a question of a train wreck. The train IS the wreck.

C'est La Vie, or as they say in France, the shoe is on the hand it fits.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #26)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:00 PM

37. I will never understand the need people feel to insist that whatever their situation is

 

must be the worst possible situation ever.

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Response to 4th law of robotics (Reply #37)

Fri May 4, 2012, 08:58 PM

44. I agree. a medieval peasant would love to have our problems.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #26)

Fri May 4, 2012, 09:12 PM

47. It's also becoming more backward, less communal. and less habitable.

 

IOW, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Personally I think we are heading toward something along the lines of Gattaca.

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #47)

Sat May 5, 2012, 10:00 AM

51. Well, now,

if Russia follows through with the threat of a preemptive strike, we might witness something akin to The Road.

Actually, I regret that some people think my first OP is about "end times," because I don't think that our species' hubris will permanently damage our amazing planet. I DO think that our species is wallowing around in the muck and the mire at the bottom of a moral abyss. We've routinely used denial and externalization of personal responsibility to avoid facing our foibles, and now we find ourselves contemplating the undeniable consequences of our unfettered hedonism.

Whatever else it may be, the coming times will NOT be dull.

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Response to chervilant (Reply #51)

Sat May 5, 2012, 01:45 PM

55. When people talk about saving the earth, they're really talking about saving us.

 

Yes, the earth will be just fine no matter how badly we fuck it up. Now, for everything living on her, not so much.

Ancient Chinese curse; "May you live in interesting times".

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Response to Egalitarian Thug (Reply #55)

Sat May 5, 2012, 02:01 PM

57. Wow!

I was thinking of that 'curse' when I wrote my reply! These are definitely 'interesting times.'

I keep reminding myself to stay in the present moment and discern what I can learn from everything I experience. Being in a beautiful, rural, and still sparsely populated part of the planet helps ground me, and reminds me of how lucky we are to live on such an amazing planet.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Sat May 5, 2012, 10:44 AM

52. We still have time to make it better.

Or that is, slightly more hospitable to newly emerging lifeforms. Maybe it really is a lost cause but as Capra pounded into my brain, sometimes the only causes worth fighting for are.
We can still make a choice what side of history we want to be on. Every day of our lives.


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Response to raouldukelives (Reply #52)

Sat May 5, 2012, 10:48 AM

53. Indeed, yes.

AND, that is why #Occupy gives me much hope.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Sat May 5, 2012, 01:29 PM

54. K&R to read when I get back later!

Not sure if you listed the wars, as I'm running out the door so just skimmed what looks like a very interesting OP and will comment more when I get home!

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Sat May 5, 2012, 01:59 PM

56. Nature abhors the steady state

There is no reason to believe that human civilization won't go through the normal processes of birth, growth, maturity, decline and death common to other natural phenomena.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #56)

Sat May 5, 2012, 02:07 PM

58. And extinction?

I am reminded of one of my fave Gary Larson cartoons: "The real reason dinosaurs became extinct."

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Response to chervilant (Reply #58)

Sat May 5, 2012, 02:27 PM

59. While extinction is possible, it is not very probable

There's no reason not to expect that maybe 10 million humans will be around 10,000 generations from now in year 300,000.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #59)

Sat May 5, 2012, 03:16 PM

63. Yeah,

I keep telling myself the same thing. I'd rather be an optimist and not a misanthrope...

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Response to chervilant (Reply #58)

Sat May 5, 2012, 02:40 PM

60. and not just our extinction

but what we have done and will do to millions of other species that would have done just fine if it were not for us.

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Response to dana_b (Reply #60)

Sat May 5, 2012, 02:44 PM

61. Lots more species have come and gone before humans appeared in the very recent past.

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Response to FarCenter (Reply #61)

Sat May 5, 2012, 09:59 PM

66. of course

but don't you think that our behavior has caused and/or expedited the extinction of many plants and animals that might still be around if it weren't for us? I sure do.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Sat May 5, 2012, 02:46 PM

62. Which confirms that evolution really doesn't have a direction.

There really isn't an evolutionary top or bottom just survivors and non-survivors. In the long term survival sense, we look to be a flash in the pan species of egomaniacs who think we're important because we're able to tell ourselves we are.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #62)

Sat May 5, 2012, 03:18 PM

64. Agreed.

I've said before

The real issue is that we disrespect what we have and fail to understand that our ecosystem tends toward a balance that is beyond our control. When it is time for Earth to roll over in the grass and scrape us off her backside, we'll just have to go along for the ride.

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Response to chervilant (Reply #64)

Sat May 5, 2012, 06:39 PM

65. Lol, and we are just a blip in the timeline of life. Our existence is so short on the timeline of

life compared to other species. I don't see why we think we can outlast so many other species even IF we were the perfect tenants. Aside from what we are doing to shorten our stay here, nature itself can 'scrape us off' the planet, as it has other species. We are mortal, not just individually, but maybe as a species.

Otoh, we could lengthen our stay, but don't seem inclined to do that.

Good OP, food for though, thank you for posting it chervilant.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #65)

Sun May 6, 2012, 02:40 PM

67. Backatcha!

I hope to post many more threads, since I'm too poor (and too old?) to march with our intrepid compatriots in the now global push-back against the Corporate Megalomaniacs who've usurped our media, our politics, and our global economy.

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Response to chervilant (Original post)

Sun May 6, 2012, 05:07 PM

68. Speaking of "evolution"...

I'm chewing my way through this essay, and came on these paragraphs that seem appropriate to this discussion:

THE CULTURAL DYNAMICS OF EMPIRE

In viewing the cultural change that has occurred since we were all forager/hunters, we confront the myth of "man's evolution." There is the linear concept of biological, "genetic," evolution and a corollary concept of "social evolution." The picture is that "man the toolmaker" has laboriously evolved, socially, by his inventions. First the rocks were chipped for tools, then the bow and arrow, then agriculture and now computers. In order to logically justify this linear concept, those farthest back on the linear path must be understood to have been in much worse condition than we are today. In this myth, we, today, in the richest industrial countries are at the forefront of social evolution. We are the most "evolved." The emphasis is that we laboriously "invented" agriculture as an escape from the previous, less satisfactory condition. This is the standard myth. Others seek to use other functional reasons in addition, to explain why humans became civilized. Other theories to explain what influenced this cultural change are a rising population of forager/hunters that may have forced farming intensification or that the worldwide die-off of large mammals after the last ice age forced forager/hunters into agricultural intensification and a sedentary way of life.

The standard measure in the field of anthropology is that forager/hunters today, as in the past, spend an average of 500 hours per year per adult person in subsistence activities, the traditional villager spends 1,000 hours and of course the modern 40 hour week amounts to 2,000 hours per year. As anthropologist John Bodley so ably points out, this presents a problem for the linear concept, namely why would the forager/hunters opt for a system in which twice as much time would be taken up with subsistence? He points out that there are examples where village agriculturists have actually returned to forager/hunter life styles when the opportunity presented itself.5 The linear concept would argue also that humans "discovered" agriculture somehow, as if foragers with their intimate knowledge of the natural world did not know that plants grow from seeds!

The big myth, which we are confronting in this essay, is the myth that says that there has been a qualitative advancement with the change from forager/hunter culture to civilization. We have already seen that only ten of the countries in the world exceed the protein intake of the !Kung Bushmen. This means that most of the civilized people of the world can't even feed themselves to the level of the forager/hunters and this is no doubt true for most of the people (other than the elites) in history who have lived in "civilization." Civilization actually represents a lowering of living standards, using the values of longevity, food, labor and health for most people outside of the elite class. Only by restricting our view to "inventions," could we say that there has been a linear progression. We live in a world where starvation is increasing. It is a world of myth where millions and soon hundreds of millions, die of starvation and we still say we are making "progress" by counting the number of devices created. This may be the ultimate of materialism (the belief that material objects are the ultimate value), that as billions die on a dying planet, we say that we have made great progress because we invented airplanes, computers, satellites and we went to the moon in a rocket ship.

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #68)

Sun May 6, 2012, 08:06 PM

69. I think you would appreciate

Marshall Sahlins' Stone Age Economics. Sahlins wrote:

"Having equipped the hunter with bourgeois impulses and paleolithic tools, we judge his situation hopeless in advance."


Paleolithic and neolithic groups became adept at finding and living proximal to areas of abundance--whichever food sources would insure a ready supply. Most economic anthropologists surmise that regular meals were the raison d'etre of early human beings.

My favorite Sahlins quote:

"The market-industrial system institutes scarcity, in a manner completely unparalleled and to a degree nowhere else approximated. Where production and distribution are arranged through the behavior of prices, and all livelihoods depend on getting and spending, insufficiency of material means becomes the explicit, calculable starting point of all economic activity. ... Consumption is a double tragedy: what begins in inadequacy will end in deprivation."


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Response to chervilant (Reply #69)

Sun May 6, 2012, 10:55 PM

75. Oh yeah! I go all over smiles when I read Sahlins.

I was so happy to see Hobbes' nasty, brutish quote get buried under an avalanche of facts. Sahlins does have a gift for turning a phrase, too. "Having equipped the hunter with bourgeois impulses and paleolithic tools..." is cute and devastating at the same time.

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