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Comment: Re:Not news (Score 1) 175

To answer your points in order:

1) I could point to thousands of species that have, and are growing, adapting, and doing quite well thank you. Bacteria, virii, insects, lots of plants, fungus, etc. I'm sorry that they aren't the adorable big/furry mammals that excite your sympathy gland.
2) Even with the most sophisticated weapons and tools, have we exterminated every species of whale? Nope. Heck, even with the determined effort of CENTURIES, have we (or are we even close to) exterminated the common mosquito? Nope.
3) I wasn't really blaming them for anything. I was saying that no species cares about its environment, in that, humans are EXACTLY like the other animals...we're going to reproduce and poison our environment until it kills us. That's just the natural way of things.

You ENTIRELY missed the point of my comment, by the way. Righteous indignation makes it hard to read, I get it.

Comment: Re:Not news (Score 1) 175

Or perhaps the entire idea of 'peacefully coexisting with nature' is completely, utterly wrong and a romantic, emotionalized intellectualism first dreamed up by Thoreau and lately enfranchised by Greens because it thrums sympathetic heartstrings of the same naive urbanites that think you can hand-feed wild animals or coexist with bears (Grizzlyman!) because they're cute?

NO species "peacefully coexists with nature". Zero. Nature is a cold-hearted bitch, and to "win" against it, species have evolved their own ruthless strategies.
Every species from the single-celled protozoa to grey whales eats and reproduces heedless of the consequences to the environment. Ultimately, one of three things happen:
1) the species cannot reproduce fast enough to outrace environmental pressures and is wiped out (either slowly over time, or just a result of shitty luck like an asteroid strike - 'scale' is always the tricky question where environment is concerned).
2) the species comes to an equilibrium, where reproduction/expansion are roughly balanced against the environmental pressures, and a sort of stasis results (until the next environmental variation that exceeds the flexibility of the population to sustain)
3) the species overwhelms environmental pressures, expanding until they exhaust resources and are confronted with #1 again, or is able to move to another environment and "restart" the calculation.

That's it. Every species, ever. Three (really 2) possible results. But no matter how you decorate it, #2 isn't some delightful rainbows and unicorns happy time either - both 'sides' are voraciously, impersonally, automatically fighting both directions. Think of it as a bloody tug of war....just because the flag in the center isn't moving much, doesn't in ANY way imply that both sides aren't struggling mightily every single second, and wouldn't cheerfully win if given the opportunity.

Hell, even plants are selfish, arrogant assholes when you come right down to it and see how they fuck each other over. They just do it really slowly.

(To be clear, I'm not anthropomorphizing it either, it's simply useful for the point here to suggest the forces are 'contending'. In reality, they're both entirely insensate....which is kind of my point.)

I know it's futile, since it's such a pretty delusion (and so politically useful for so many...) but can we ever dispense with the bullshit notion that anything, ever, "peacefully coexists with nature"?

Comment: Re: Not news (Score 1) 175

we are the cause of most species going extinct in the modern era.
natural extinction is longer drawn out process. even the extinction of the dinosaurs took a few thousand years.
and in that process they are frequently replaced, or the beginings of a replacement, by a new critter on the rise, or other critters filling in, or whatever equilibrium ends up being reached.

but therein lies the problem. not only are WE the cause, we are doing it far faster than nature can cope and adapt.

and we're not really an apex predator either. in nature if lions or wolves eat too many critters, they face starvation the next year, and their numbers drop. in the following cycle, now the prey multiplies. now with a surplus of food the predator numbers once again rebound. the cycle swings like this naturally every so often.

we, humans, no longer see or partake in that natual predator and pry boom/bust cycle.

if we wipe out all the fish in the sea, oh well, there's plenty of other stuff we can eat. in fact that's WHY we're not apex predators. we're omnivores, with very adaptable diets. but that omnivorous diet coupled with our ability to adapt and grow as a species (such that we're now the only sentient one here, and the single most numourous outside of insects and some fish) is even vastly different than other adaptable species. if we eat all the fish in the sea or some "local" area, for nearly concept or size of local, we barely feel it because we can ship in rice from asia, or corn from nebraska, or beef from australia.

we are so disconnected from the natural cycles that the comparison to apex predators is completely unjustified.


Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation' 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
mspohr writes: A special issue of Science magazine devoted to 'Vanishing Fauna' publishes a series of articles about the man-caused extinction of species and the implications for ecosystems and the climate. Quoting: "During the Pleistocene epoch, only tens of thousands of years ago, our planet supported large, spectacular animals. Mammoths, terror birds, giant tortoises, and saber-toothed cats, as well as many less familiar species such as giant ground sloths (some of which reached 7 meters in height) and glyptodonts (which resembled car-sized armadillos), roamed freely. Since then, however, the number and diversity of animal species on Earth have consistently and steadily declined. Today we are left with a relatively depauperate fauna, and we continue to lose animal species to extinction rapidly. Although some debate persists, most of the evidence suggests that humans were responsible for extinction of this Pleistocene fauna, and we continue to drive animal extinctions today through the destruction of wild lands, consumption of animals as a resource or a luxury, and persecution of species we see as threats or competitors." Unfortunately, most of the detail is behind a paywall, but the summary should be enough to get the point across.

Comment: FUD alert (Score 3, Informative) 169

"Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. "

Um, no.
First, the normal flush pressure comes from the water tank on the EVERYONE would be able to flush at least once. (Actually, in a disaster, that tank isn't a bad source of freshwater, at least for a while.)

Most communities have water tanks above their population, either on a nearby height, or in water towers. This makes the system - at least in the short term, until that tank is drained - impervious to power outage. Even NYC has tens of thousands of rooftop tanks with the same function, but on a per-building level.
GRAVITY, not electricity, produces water pressure that refills that local toilet tank. So until the community tank is emptied, and electric pumps are required to fill that large tank, everyone would be able to flush just fine.

Comment: Re:Real world consequences (Score 2) 160

FUD, now in "patronizing" flavor.

To suggest that critiquing a stupid unit of measure is somehow trivializing the problem is itself a strawman.

If I said that I'm 1,930,400,000,000 picometers tall, people SHOULD mock me for using a stupid unit of measure. When people are primed to overreact to an event like Fukushima and then confronted by a number in public reporting that uses just such an inappropriate unit of measure, one can either mock the report for being foolish, or condemn it for being deliberately inflammatory. Which would you prefer?

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 169

The question becomes: how many people would die unnecessarily before we could recover, and how much of our annual GDP would it cost to perform the recovery?

Someone in the US energy department, at the very least, almost certainly has rough estimates of those questions, don't you think?

No doubt. As much as I might joke about job stimulus, it would be an awful situation. Almost like the worst case Y2K scenarios. But no doubt there are a lot of people who just won't believe it is possible. Can't see it, so it isn't there. So we'll just sit back and watch what happens.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 210

by Ol Olsoc (#47530683) Attached to: Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

On any PC I can set Linux to be the default boot. On Chromebooks you have to type through an annoying prompt every single time you boot a kernel that's not signed by Google and the message says that OS verification is off, implying that using your own Linux install is less secure. Even the much hated UEFI Secure Boot doesn't do this.

Yes, you have to turn off OS verification. That's sort of sensible, since your choosing between two different systems.

As for your annoying prompt - I don't see it. I just hit control L - or Control D. Then whichever OS I choose is about 7 seconds away.

If you actually have ever used Linux on a Chromebook, and you're encountering more than one keypress (aside from login) you're not doing it right.

Comment: Re:Known this forever (Score 2) 169

And yet nothing changes, there is no hardening of infrastructure, no preparation or planning.

Most people just don't believe it's possible. Smart people can put two and two together, but most of us won't think a thing about it until their smartphones quit working and they can't access Facebook.

Even then, they'll likely assign it to something political like the Illuminati taking over, and disabling all the electronics so they can put everyone in FEMA concentration camps.

Goddamned liberals anyway! >sarcasm

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 4, Informative) 169

And no, a solar flare can not burn out giant motors and generators, all that can be ran easily without the SCADA system. In fact we used to run drills operating the place by hand, as most of the guys that did it from 1940 until 1990 did it mostly by hand.

You should research the Carrington event before you declare this all FUD

In March 1989 much of Quebec lost power for the same thing.

Related are EMP pulses. We can make these ourselves. The Starfish prime and Soviet Project K tests got some old school electrical equipment all goofed up.

In short, huge induced currents in places where they shouldn't be can knock out the old school equipment - it just takes a big enough event. The little, more sensitive stuff we use today? Maybe we should look at it as a huge job creation plan fixing/replacing all the stuff that gets broken.

Comment: Re:Stop insulting scumbags. (Score 5, Insightful) 149

except most of these laws come from republican controlled state legislatures.

Oh, you want a local internet utility to compete with your shoddy telco monopoly? Can't allow that.
Oh, you want a local minimum wage higher than the state or federal minimum? Can't allow that.
Oh, you want a local employment non-discrimination law? Can't allow that.
Oh, you want any of a dozen other topics we oppose as a local level? Can't allow that.

Welcome to the The GOP: the party of small government, handling things that lowest or local level...unless we oppose it.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.