Re: Why preserving BioDiversity is Extropian (was re: Environmental Degradation)

Anders Sandberg (
15 Feb 1998 16:34:18 +0100

Michael Lorrey <> writes:

> This is beginning to be alleviated. For thousands of years, humans have
> supported their agricultural habit by using their own excrement for
> fertilizer along with that of their cows and horses and pigs. This practice
> ended early in this century with the Progressives pushing through the FDA
> acts which made such use of human waste illegal. Since that time, the
> topsoil in this country has steadily declined.

I'm not sure that is the main reason, but it most likely contributes

> However, in Texas and a few other places, this is beginning to be reversed.
> Biosolids (class B types, not the toxic class C) from New York City ("NEW
> YORK CITY?" the Texans decry....) are being shipped to a few towns in Texas
> and being spread over the land. The land is fully capable of handling as
> much agriculture as we want if we put back our wastes.... This is not being
> done, instead it is being drained into the oceans.

[ I remember reading about the fertilizer trade in Stockholm during the
ninteenth century. The waste was transported to two small islands
outside of the harbor, where farmers bought it. The piles from
different parts of the city were differently priced; the waste from
the poorer southern parts were much better since it didn't contain so
much toilet paper... :-) ]

More seriously, an idea: we have problems with nutrient drainage into
the oceans, which upsets local ecosystems, causes algae blooms and
anaerobic sea bottoms. Are there some useful process to extract the
nutrient from the over-fed water? For example, a large part of the
bottoms of the Baltic Sea is utterly devoid of life except possibly
sulphur bacteria. Would it be possible to economically use the
sea-sludge for fertilizer?

> If a species cannot cut it, then it either needs
> to be improved or allowed to die out if it cannot, to be replaced with
> another than can compete.

This depends on your goals and values. If you value the *ecosystem* as
a whole, then there is no point in preserving non-competitve
species. But if you value the individual species and the information
they contains, then it makes a lot of sense. After all, many people
still value information and objects that have long since lost their
relevance to ordinary life or competitiveness on the market (like
veteran cars, many books, antiques and historical archives).

Maybe there will one day be a market for antique ecosystems?

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
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