Why preserving BioDiversity is Extropian (was re: Environmental

Paul Hughes (organix@hotmail.com)
Sun, 15 Feb 1998 03:19:22 PST

CurtAdams@aol.com wrote:

> Maintaining
>diversity would probably permit improvements to farming in the
>future, but it's not necessary. The oxygen you breathe effectively
>comes from whatever plants fixed the carbon in the food you eat
>- in other words, the same farm plants.

Your statement strikes me as naive. Our understanding of the complex
web of interconnections between food chains is limited at best. It may
turn out that there is no connection. Howerver, our you willing to risk
your survival on a hunch there is no connection between biodiversity and
the *sustainability* of farming?

First, the so-called green revolution that we have had over the last 30
years has come at a cost - the depletion of top soil. Nitrogen
fertilizers have helped us grow more food, but have also accelerated the
rate at which that same land can't grow again without the introduction
of ever greater and more potent fertilizers. It doesn't take a genius
to realize that this trend can't continue forever - there is only so
much nitrogen one can add to the soil. What is missing is the rich and
biodiverse topsoil that must be sustained by adding to the soil exactly
what is taken away (i.e. compost). Suprisingly very few farmers
actually practice this type of composting.

Secondly, the use of pesticides is a war that is slowly being lost.
What is missing is a complex understanding of the *biodiversity* among
the insect community that is essential for the pollination of countless
species of edible plants. Sustainable farmers have realized this and
have taken great measures to eliminate pesticides; and instead foster
the growth of certain populatons of insects who are vital to either
pollination or as predators to those insects who find the crops

My point is this: the connections between most species we have studied
are sublte yet profound (i.e. if one species goes, so do others.) I do
not know of any connection between say a peruvian beatle and the human
community. But my ignorance of this, is no reason to gamble on their
not being one. As an extropian I want to expand myself *indefinitley*.
So until I have a better undertanding of the complex web of
interconnections that is this bioshpere, I am not going to rush out and
kill some species that may turn out to be essential later for my long
term survival.

Besides, the destructiion of biodiversity is not a very extropian thing
to do as it is a net decrease in overall complexity. Isn't extropianism
about increasing complexity?

Paul Hughes

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