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The Vectorian Lounge => The Lounge => Topic started by: Triarius Fidelis on July 28, 2010, 09:17:53 pm

Title: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on July 28, 2010, 09:17:53 pm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10781621

I am deeply distressed by this news.

Not so much by the fact that I may need to live with a rebreather one day but that I might have to part with at least one of my seven yachts in order to cope with a changing world.

I might not even be able to drive a Jaguar anymore!

I need some tissues ... I ... I'm feeling pretty emotional ... right now. *sniff*
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Dweeberkitty on July 29, 2010, 08:08:12 pm
lol. Honestly, are we supposed to expect the global environment to maintain 100% status quo? And when it does change we blame it entirely on the human race.

Yeah, the Jaguar has got to go.  :P
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on July 29, 2010, 08:40:03 pm
Well

Since the current extinction event is happening 10,000x faster than usual (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/an-epidemic-of-extinctions-decimation-of-life-on-earth-829325.html) it is entirely possible that we have ourselves to blame.

I guess you don't understand the significance of undermining the world's phytoplankton but there again, if I remember correctly, you regard creationism as "scientific". So there's not much I can do for you.

Is it too much to ask

That people have at least a rudimentary understanding of what they are talking about?

I guess so.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: tomh38 on July 29, 2010, 10:18:45 pm
For anyone interested in the current extinction event, I would recommend this book:  http://www.amazon.com/Sixth-Extinction-Patterns-Future-Humankind/dp/0385468091 (http://www.amazon.com/Sixth-Extinction-Patterns-Future-Humankind/dp/0385468091).  If you live in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, et al., it's probably available at your local public library.  I don't know if it's been translated into other languages.

The author, Richard Leakey, is not only an accomplished paleoanthropologist but also a good writer.  He makes a compelling case.

By the way, the parent post in this thread misrepresents the article from The Independent.  The article does not state that the current extinction event (which is anthopogenic) is 10,000 times higher than past mass extinction events, but that the extinction level is 10,000 times higher than the historical norm.

According to people who study such things, there have been five major extinction events in the history of multicellular life on Earth.  The most famous of these occured at the K-T boundary.  One likely culprit for that event was the impact of a very large asteroid, which left behind the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan Peninsula.  This is known as the "Alvarez Hypothesis" after Luis Alvarez and his son Walter, who first presented compelling evidence for the impact being the cause of the mass extinction.  There is, however, still some debate on this subject.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on July 29, 2010, 10:23:43 pm
My bad. Regardless I'm not aware of prior mass extinction events that took place on the scale of hundreds of years. And the destruction of phytoplankton is of course alarming. Nothing meriting "hurr well we can't be perfect you know?"
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: tomh38 on July 30, 2010, 06:48:13 am
1.  The extinction event at the K-T boundary may have taken place in a matter of days if the Alvarez hypothesis is correct, i.e. the Chicxulub impact is the primary cause of the extinction.  There is a lot of evidence to support Alvarez, but there are competing and complementary hypotheses.

2.  Of course what's happening to the biosphere due to human activity is not good, at least in terms of the continuation of the world that we know.  The Permian extinction, however, was even greater than that which ended the Cretaceous. 

3.  Life has existed on Earth more or less since the planet became hospitable to it.  Nobody knows whether biogenesis occurred here, nor exactly how, or whether single-celled organisms might have been brought to Earth on comets or through some similar means (the Panspermia Hypothesis).  At the moment Panspermia seems at least possible, especially since extremophile microorganisms were discovered in recent years.  It turns out that life is very tenacious and hardy, much more so than was previously thought.

4.  Human beings, on the other hand, are not so hardy and durable.  It is now clear that many species of hominids have gone extinct over the last seven million years or so, as well as one "human" species (homo neanderthalensis).  Our time will come eventually, as it has for every multicellular species over the last 550 megayears or so.

5.  Finally, I certainly agree that the destruction of phytoplankton is very alarming.  I can't say that I'm indifferent to an imminent end to our species; nevertheless, I'm not concerned that life on Earth will continue to thrive for quite some time.  We certainly should be doing more to care for the environment, but whether we do or not will not be the deciding factor in the fate of the Earth's biosphere.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on July 30, 2010, 08:45:58 am
As a species (or something), we can survive indefinitely by keeping this planet in good shape and then escaping it before our time is up here.

I just finished A Canticle for Leibowitz, but it won't be nuclear war that does us in, it will be Randroidism.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on July 30, 2010, 09:14:44 am
And no I don't think that the Earth will become Venusian. I don't know what Stephen Hawking was thinking when he suggested that. That being said I wouldn't be surprised if aliens one day referred to the "Rand-Friedman extinction boundary"

WHO IS JOHN GALT
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: tomh38 on July 30, 2010, 09:51:23 am
As a species (or something), we can survive indefinitely by keeping this planet in good shape and then escaping it before our time is up here.

I just finished A Canticle for Leibowitz, but it won't be nuclear war that does us in, it will be Randroidism.

Yeah, I agree.  If we keep this planet in good shape, we as a species can survive indefinitely.  Also, for long-term species survival we need to start making backups.  Right now no large group in the world has the will to do either, but that could change.  I hope it does, or at least space travel becomes lucrative enough for people to spread out through the solar system just to profit.  There's a NEO (near earth object), an asteroid I'm pretty sure, which has an estimated $7 trillion in rare earths in it.  Setting up a space mining infrastructure could bootstrap us to the High Frontier.

A Canticle for Leibowitz - excellent novel on many levels.  Too bad Walter Miller didn't write more.  Don't the monks bug out for interstellar space just as the second nuclear war is beginning?

Anything by Ayn Rand - junk.  I know because I've read just about all of it over the years.  Bad philosophy, two-dimensional characters, a complete lack of understanding of human nature.  I know that she was scarred by early years spent in the worst period of the Soviet Union.  That, however, doesn't excuse her followers from swallowing that pablum.  It's just an excuse for selfishness and a feeling of superiority.  If you're into that kind of thinking, at least read Heinlein, which is a lot more fun than Atlas Shrugged.

As a side note, I'm curious about something.  Why is it that (in the U.S) practically every college kid with any intellectual heft becomes enamoured at some point with A) Jean-Paul Sartre, B) Ayn Rand, C) Franz Kafka, or D) All of the above?  Does this phenomenon occur in other countries?  Well, at least Kafka wrote that cool novel about the guy turning into a bug.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on July 30, 2010, 10:30:15 am
Yeah, I agree.  If we keep this planet in good shape, we as a species can survive indefinitely.  Also, for long-term species survival we need to start making backups.  Right now no large group in the world has the will to do either, but that could change.  I hope it does, or at least space travel becomes lucrative enough for people to spread out through the solar system just to profit.  There's a NEO (near earth object), an asteroid I'm pretty sure, which has an estimated $7 trillion in rare earths in it.  Setting up a space mining infrastructure could bootstrap us to the High Frontier.

Absolutely.

Although a book I recently read about terraforming has interesting things to say about profiteering in space while our own planet is wilting.

A Canticle for Leibowitz - excellent novel on many levels.  Too bad Walter Miller didn't write more.  Don't the monks bug out for interstellar space just as the second nuclear war is beginning?

Yes, under the plan Quo peregrinator grex. There's a Wikipedo page with all the Latin phrases in it:

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

It was an awesome book.

As a side note, I'm curious about something.  Why is it that (in the U.S) practically every college kid with any intellectual heft becomes enamoured at some point with A) Jean-Paul Sartre, B) Ayn Rand, C) Franz Kafka, or D) All of the above?  Does this phenomenon occur in other countries?  Well, at least Kafka wrote that cool novel about the guy turning into a bug.


idk

I read most of the The Trial (Kafka) in high school.

It was pretty good.

It seems more or less like real life.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Dweeberkitty on July 31, 2010, 08:01:38 pm
Well

Since the current extinction event is happening 10,000x faster than usual (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/an-epidemic-of-extinctions-decimation-of-life-on-earth-829325.html) it is entirely possible that we have ourselves to blame.

I guess you don't understand the significance of undermining the world's phytoplankton but there again, if I remember correctly, you regard creationism as "scientific". So there's not much I can do for you.

Is it too much to ask

That people have at least a rudimentary understanding of what they are talking about?

I guess so.

Hmmmm.....seeing as how your first post so offhandedly seemed to disregard the effects the demise of the phytoplankton population with bitter sarcasm, I decided to follow suit.

Sorry

to have offended

your ultra-sensitive mega-ego.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: tomh38 on July 31, 2010, 09:38:54 pm
Sorry

to have offended

your ultra-sensitive mega-ego.

It has been sighted in the area:

(http://www.roflcopter.net/roflcopter.gif)
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Lyn on August 01, 2010, 12:17:11 am
I just finished A Canticle for Leibowitz, but it won't be nuclear war that does us in, it will be Randroidism.

Fantastic book... I read it most years.

And as for what is happening, we do seem to have an adverse impact and we will not personally suffer, but our grand children will.
Title: Re: so guys phytoplankton are dying off
Post by: Triarius Fidelis on August 01, 2010, 05:34:10 pm
Well

Since the current extinction event is happening 10,000x faster than usual (http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/an-epidemic-of-extinctions-decimation-of-life-on-earth-829325.html) it is entirely possible that we have ourselves to blame.

I guess you don't understand the significance of undermining the world's phytoplankton but there again, if I remember correctly, you regard creationism as "scientific". So there's not much I can do for you.

Is it too much to ask

That people have at least a rudimentary understanding of what they are talking about?

I guess so.

Hmmmm.....seeing as how your first post so offhandedly seemed to disregard the effects the demise of the phytoplankton population

Isn't it fairly obvious?

(http://richardwiseman.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/jenga_01.jpg)

Phytoplankton are like the bottom tiles.

Sorry

to have offended

your ultra-sensitive mega-ego.

Apology accepted.