Re: Why preserving BioDiversity is Extropian (was re:

Michael M. Butler (butler@comp*
Sun, 15 Feb 1998 06:53:31 -0800


Permit me to amplify with an illustration from bionics and the current push
for small (Cretaceous-period dragonfly sized and smaller) aerial platforms...

When every distinguishable element of a (system) (organism) has at least
two functions (ex.: frame stiffening, vertical tail surface, antenna all in
one), the butterfly effect is loose.

I'm rather concerned about the "race to the bottom" WRT the oceanic food
web. I've noticed that Roy and Lisa Walford's excellent book on tasty CRAN
cooking has more than one recipe that includes fish that are climax
predators or close to it: swordfish, tuna, cod, and my favorite
embarrassment, orange roughy--ehic was discovered off New Zealand just a
short time ago and has been heavily fished since then.

Oh, the embarrassment part? There are reports that marine biologists have
determined that orange roughy probably take 25 to 35 years to become
sexually mature, and may have lifespans in the wild of 125 years.


Time to farm fish and let the wild oceans have a breathing spell, methinks.
Paging Arthur C. Clarke...

At 03:19 AM 2/15/98 PST, you wrote:
> 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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