dhw's obsession with 'humans plus food' (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Saturday, March 11, 2023, 17:46 (439 days ago)

We must live in a balance with our giant ecosystem in which we are top predators. We can damage our food supply, and we can over pollute:


"For any living organism, the recipe for success is simple: gather the resources that allow you to survive and thrive, avoid predators and toxic environments, and then reproduce in a fashion so that your offspring have a chance to survive and reproduce as well.


"However, simply following that recipe, generation upon generation, can often lead to an unintended consequence: the depletion of necessary resources and the build-up of waste products that result from completed metabolic processes. Over long enough timescales or with large enough populations, this can transform a once-plentiful environment that possessed favorable conditions for that organism to survive and thrive into a resource-depleted, pollution-rich environment. This transformation renders that ecosystem, all of a sudden, uninhabitable to the organisms that have survived there for so long.

"With more than 8 billion humans now inhabiting planet Earth, we’re at risk of doing precisely this to the one environment that unites us all: the biosphere of our world itself. Our long-term survival now hinges on our ability to act collectively for the good of our distant descendants. Otherwise, we’ll prove ourselves, in the end, no smarter than a simple colony of yeast cells, which routinely poison themselves to extinction if left to their own devices.


"...as cyanobacteria continued to survive and thrive for hundreds of millions of years, they gradually began to transform Earth’s atmosphere by adding oxygen into the mix. As the oxygen accumulated, it oxidized surface minerals (like iron) and contributed to the decomposition of deceased life forms, but as the cyanobacteria continued to thrive and grow in population, they began to pollute Earth’s atmosphere with this new waste product: O2.


"This time period, where oxygen was first produced in great abundance on Earth, is known as the Great Oxygenation Event, which eventually led to an incredible mass extinction that killed over 80% of living species on Earth. The reason for this? Most organisms living at that time were anaerobic in nature, and oxygen was toxic to those life forms. The methane in the atmosphere became oxidized, and eventually methane levels dropped to only trace amounts. The new atmosphere, with a reduced greenhouse effect, caused Earth’s temperature to drop, leading to a series of extreme glaciation events, and a condition known as “snowball Earth” where possibly the entire planet’s surface was covered in ices and snows.


"As human beings, with over 8 billion of us on planet Earth at present, we now find ourselves in a very analogous situation to both the early cyanobacteria from over 2 billion years ago and the yeast cells one would culture within a nutrient-rich broth in a petri dish. It isn’t that we’re in danger of transforming our planet into an uninhabitable hellscape, as nothing we’ve done or are in the process of doing is going to have a catastrophic effect of that magnitude. However, there are a number of ways that we’re polluting, destroying, or depleting our environment in ways that not only are non-renewable and unsustainable,


"we should be prepared. After all, unlike yeast, cyanobacteria, or any other species that’s impacted its environment due to its collective, accumulated actions, we can not only detect and quantify the effects we’re having, but can choose to change our action at any time.

Siegel lists crises: "Today, however, we teeter on the brink of a number of crises: Loss of wild habitats, climate change, oceanic overexploitation, and flooding the Earth with too many satillites, where light pollution, the sky brightness from reflected satellite light, the damage to ground-based and space-based astronomy, atmospheric pollution from deorbiting satellites, and the risk of Kessler syndrome — rendering low-Earth orbit impassable and full of debris — remain real, worsening risks.


"The path we’ll choose, collectively, depends on what our species’ answer is to the titular question of this article: Is humanity dumber than a colony of yeast cells? Sure, if you go by the Doomsday Clock, it might seem like we’re already a lost cause, destined to drive ourselves over the edge of the cliff and into the abyss below. But as increasing numbers of people, particularly young people, awaken to the dangers of inaction on all of these fronts, our desire for long-term self-preservation just might win out in the end. Our future is in our hands, but it will take all of us, working together, to create the one we both desire and require."

Comment: dhw does not understand how my form of God views this. He foresaw our burgeoning population but provided us with the means of solving the problems. He needn't step in. Evolution is over.

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