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Comment Re:More condoms less climate change (Score 1) 110

People per se have almost no impact on climate. It's what people do and how much in aggregate they do it.

Environmentalists are often stereotyped as pessimists, but really most of the people I know who've dedicated their careers are optimistic that technology can address many environmental problems. Sure, they'd like to see the global population stabilized, or even somewhat reduced, because that makes the job of preserving the environment much easier. But they actually believe the sustainability problem can be licked, even without reducing the global population by much.

I'll give you one example of how an actual environmentalist thinks. I was at a meeting with the sustainability director of a major sportswear manufacturer, and he was describing the research they were doing into improving the recyclability of polyester fleece clothing. He made the point that scale is critical to assessing the environmental impact. For a small band of hunter-gatherers, wild animal pelts would be the source of clothing with the least impact; wool would have intermediate impact; a chemical plant that reprocesses coke bottles into polyester resins would have a ridiculously large impact. But if you are making hundreds of thousands of garments, the impacts are actually reversed: the chemical plant has the least environmental impact. Once you turn those bottles into fleece you can continually recycle those molecules into more fleece. He describes recycling as "living off your environmental income instead of your capital."

Environmentalists -- by which I mean the people who are actually working on solutions to environmental problems -- generally believe that even with a large population we can make use of the products of ecosystems without disturbing the equilibria that sustain those systems. As one civil engineering environmentalist I know put it: I = P*S/T ; impact is proportional to population and standard of living but inversely proportional to technology. You can reduce the environmental impact of home heating by reducing the number of people; or you could do it by people getting used to being colder. But you can get the same result by insulating your house and heating it with renewable energy.

It's actually the anti-environmentalists who are the pessimists; they don't believe in people's ability to adapt, and they anticipate nothing but suffering from trying to do anything about problems. Their version of "optimism" is to discount any evidence that problems exist, or to convincing themselves if we do nothing everything will work out for the best.

Comment Re:No one should be blamed for the spread of virus (Score 1) 282

That's pretty much the problem with new diseases. People don't know they carry them.

People were used to some STDs, and probably they even took care they don't spread them once they noticed they had them. AIDS is vastly different to them. AIDS does not manifest until years after it's too late. Today, there's a test for it. Back then, there was none. Until the 1990s IIRC there was no way to determine whether you have AIDS until your T-Cells were already gone. That happens, as mentioned before, long after the infection, when AIDS fully manifests.

Most sane countries now have laws that consider it assault or even manslaughter if you know you have AIDS and still engage in unprotected sex with someone else and infect them. Anything past that and accusing people who cannot even know they carry the disease is bullshit.

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They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.