Population growth is not an issue of social or economic theory, as Friedman concludes--the issue is how we acknowledge the Earth and our existence upon it. Saying the Earth will be fine "when we are gone" assumes that the Earth was ever meant to be covered in concrete, railroads, and power plants. Humans happen to be a species that exists, but that doesn't make the Earth our experimental playground. This viewpoint is dangerously disrespectful to the Earth, whose value exceeds instrumental worth.
No, that is not my point, my point is that exponential growth of population is not true, that countries get a best birth auto-regulation when they are richer, and that they are richer precisely when technology is more advanced. Also my point of view (debatible, of course) is that humans will find solutions to the problems of the future, which, almost certainly, will not be the problems that we are thinking now, so there will be a balance between humans, other species and the planet itself. Is it an optimistic view? Yep, it is true, but I have some faith in humans… [or, after reading the insults on my inbox just now, rather in ***some*** humans].
davidhenrythoreau says: Just a little background—I live in Southern California, a natural Mediterranean wetland, one of the rarest ecosystems on the whole planet. …or it would be if it wasn’t dried up with cement, covered (almost entirely) in invasive species, roads, housing, and/or automobiles. I understand that science and capital are the answers to sustainable solutions (but that’s only because we adopted capitalism centuries ago); but the Earth won’t just fix itself and we can’t rely on that perspective.
I know that area, I loved it. And you give me a perfect example of what I was trying to explain: what you’re thinking are solutions of today (cement, covered in invasive species, roads, housing, and / or automobiles …) to tomorrow’s problems, and history has taught us that that does not work. The classical sample is “the problem” with the horse manure at the end of XIX century, and “experts” forecasting that streets might be drowned in horse manure around 1950. Today we can laugh of the whole thing, I’m pretty sure we all will laugh in fifty years too of this kind of eco-doom.
davidhenrythoreau says: I’m sorry, but no. What I’m speaking of is a solution targeted at the fundamental way humans look outside their window and either say “this is mine to conquer” or “this is mine to coexist upon.” Today, and every year since the 1800s, the former is/has been the majority view. Unless we change how we acknowledge the earth, as our family, not our slave, science is absolutely useless in a very intrinsic way. Invasives are on ongoing issue, populations and pollution are ongoing issues; the trouble with environmental optimism is that it allows us to slow our progress, when in fact, we are centuries away from any solution. And yes, more issues will arise as time moves, but we’re still cleaning up what was; we are not ready to acknowledge what is, because we haven’t reached a “present” environmental solution. I admire your willingness to argue with me, but today is EARTH day, and people ought to hear about how we can’t stop trying, not that we’re close enough.
You can not change the way of being of humans, a newcomer kind to the planet, and pretty insignificant for Earth, and that can be swept from the face of the earth in a few seconds or minutes due to circumstances that we can not (and probably will never be able) to control: pandemic diseases, meteorites, giant solar flares… We know this because it has happened before, and can happen in the future.
Yes, it’s Earth Day, very nice, but I think there is room for discussion if extreme positions are eliminated and speaking from reason, not from faith, pseudoscience or pathological environmentalism, three concepts interchangeable in this case, IMHO.
Also, if I get to choose between optimism and pessimism, I’ll take the former, especially if it is rational, and I think my original post was so.
Though it is true that science is responsible for our modern, renewable, and sustainable technologies, it cannot just be ignored that the Industrial Revolution (and all that has proceeded), including intense population expansion, major habitat destruction, and over exploitation of natural, nonrenewable resources, are the by-product of scientific innovation (i.e. Medicine, automobiles, weapons). The earth is a beautiful place, but humans have not improved it; the earth was fine before we arrived.
I’m partially agree with your comment. But:
"…including intense population expansion…" There is plenty room for all of us, maltusianismis dead. "…major habitat destruction…" and also new habitat formation, human being is the first specie who worried for this kind of things. "…exploitation of natural, nonrenewable resources…" Explotation is mostly controled and we have now the tools to minimize them without have to go back to the Paleolithic. "The earth is a beautiful place…"depend of the era, "…but humans have not improved it…" we can not indeed; “…the earth was fine before we arrived…” and so will be when we are gone.
This is a very beautiful site. I am preparing a commercial product for high school physics. Can I use the images from this site into my commercial product?
Hi! Thanks! I fear it’s not that easy. Many of the images are coming from sites with a Creative Commons License and hence inherit the same (NonCommercial) license. Many others has copyright, and I use them within rights granted under 17 USC § 107 (fair use: for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research). Since (almost) all images at Science is Beauty include the source (and credit), I suggest that you go to the original quoted sources to find out about their use, or to apply for commercial use. Good luck!
“I mean the word proof not in the sense of the lawyers, who set two half proofs equal to a whole one, but in the sense of a mathematician, where half proof = 0, and it is demanded for proof that every doubt becomes impossible.”—
Can science answer moral questions? Sam Harris certainly thinks so.
It’s a very interesting question, I sure there are many followers who can provide more deeper insights than mine (so please, check out comments after a while). But here’s my opinion: Science can (and must) resolve some moral questions, but it can’t (and never will) resolve all moral or ethical dilemas. I get the impression that the opposite would be the same as denying the transcendence of man, and somehow his intelligence.
I think that in such discussions I’m very close to Stephen Jay Gould and pretty far away of Richard Dawkins, because I consider that metaphysics (and religion) are different fields in its essence (non-overlapping magisteria - NOMA, as was named by Gould), that they can do some collaborative work (and actually do), but always using different methods (even sometime incompatibles) and, of course, targeting different objectives.
Some examples via the University of California, Berkeley:
“Light and matter are both single entities, and the apparent duality arises in the limitations of our language. It is not surprising that our language should be incapable of describing the processes occurring within the atoms, for, as has been remarked, it was invented to describe the experiences of daily life, and these consist only of processes involving exceedingly large numbers of atoms. Furthermore, it is very difficult to modify our language so that it will be able to describe these atomic processes, for words can only describe things of which we can form mental pictures, and this ability, too, is a result of daily experience. Fortunately, mathematics is not subject to this limitation, and it has been possible to invent a mathematical scheme — the quantum theory — which seems entirely adequate for the treatment of atomic processes; for visualisation, however, we must content ourselves with two incomplete analogies — the wave picture and the corpuscular picture.”—
Congrats on your 2014 Weblog award. That's what led me to your site. On P53 you offer a Raymond Chandler quote:- "There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The fist of these is science, and the second is art." WikiQuote offers 'first' rather than 'fist' - so is it you or it which is correct?
Thanks anon. And yes, this was a typo, fixed! (though I fear there will be hundreds propagated all around Tumblr - given that the post has +1200 notes). Cheers!