Re: Stossel program faces generic engineering threat

From: Anne Marie Tobias (
Date: Tue Jul 03 2001 - 02:01:31 MDT

Hi Mike,

Mike Lorrey wrote:

> wrote:
> >
> > In another example, an activist complained about the use of recombinant
> > bovine growth hormone (RBGH). She said that the U.S. was the only
> > industrialized country to allow its use. Later she simplified that to say
> > that the U.S. was the only country which allowed it. Stossel challenged
> > her and put up a quickly-scrolling list of other countries that allowed
> > the use of RGBH. There were 20 or more and it made her look bad.
> >
> > But if you looked closely at the list, all were Third World countries.
> > Venezuela, Mexico, etc., all poor nations. The United States was the only
> > First World country that I saw. So in fact the activist was basically
> > correct in her initial statement, although the streamlined version of
> > the message was not right. But I felt that Stossel was trying to snow
> > the viewers by putting up the list so fast that most people couldn't read
> > it carefully. (I Tivo'd the show so was able to view it at my leisure.)
> Could you post the list of countries? I'd hardly consider Mexico and
> Venezuela undeveloped countries. They are industrialized, and Venezuela
> is actually a rather rich country, not poor at all.

I agree, and the whole problem belies a wildly crazy set of agendas, and
behaviors that reflect differences in cultures, ideologies, and motivations.
The French are phobic about anything in their food... their lives center
around their food, mess with Mother Teresa, but don't mess with a French
man's food! America on the other hand would add putonium to cow's mik
next week if dairy farmers discovered it increased productivity by 30%. I
know that's an exageration... but I can point to literal examples if anybody
wants to go down that road... in America Business talks, & everbody else
walks... so I'm not surprised at the names one finds on the list...

> > I had a lot of other complaints too, as when Stossel would subtly
> > switch the question being discussed, starting from the question of
> > whether global warming is occuring and whether man is causing it, and
> > then saying no, many scientists don't agree that global warming will
> > be harmful. Both statements are true: there is a consensus that warming
> > is occuring and that it is very likely due in part to human activities;
> No, there is not a consensus among scientists, just among those with the
> same agenda.

Actually the majority of scientist acknowlege that there is global warming.
There is a majority that acknowledge some part of that warming is human
based. There is good evidence that some of it is solar bases. There is even
a bit of evidence that geophysical phenomena are partially to blaim. We
may be in a temporary phase caused by several unrelated forces that for
the moment are in constructive interference, and that may change anytime.
The media is famous for making the public stupid crazy (eg. Oat Bran)...
and blowing little deals into big deals by the liberal application of bovine
feces wherever it may cause the increased growth of ratings. That said, we
are now at a time in our existence that we can actually impact the world,
and have. We've polluted entire oceans, and done some really stupid
things because they seemed like a good idea at the time. I refer to this as
the Jethro Factor (or a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.) It would be
wise beyond normal human limits to act with caution, and proceed with
all due prudence in the areas of human indeavor that might have negative
impact until we have adequate means to understand the likely results of
our actions. I figure that we'll have computers up to snuff in about 5 years.
Machines able to model in terms of tens of petaflops. We should declare
a 5 year project of cleaning up our messes and not making any new ones,
until we can see exactly what part we play in this dance. Then when the
final ballots come in we can begin looking at what the real playing field looks

> > and there is much less consensus about the net effects of the warming,
> > because some will be good and some will be bad. Stossel emphasized the
> > second point and let it be assumed that the disagreement covered the
> > other issue as well.
> Sure. If it is actually occuring, and its not actually a bad thing (who
> can complain about millions of square miles of tundra becoming
> productive agricultural acrage? Who can complain about the fact that if
> sea levels rise, this will actually INCREASE the amount of coastline,
> and therefore more seashore fore everybody....)

Unless we find out that tundra is a crucial part of the complex human ecology.
We are biota... that's it on that. You have abslutely no clue, what are the
essential life forms on this planet for the continued existence of Homo
Sapiens. Ecological systems are so complex, and you don't know that
tundra may impact carribu, that impact bears, that impact seals, that impact
orca, that impact krill, that impact grey whales, that impact through ten
other degrees of freedom human e. coli that impact you and me. Our
science is nowhere adavnced enough to figure out the critical interactions
and relationships between organic populations on this planet, and you
think melting the perma frost sound like an invitation to surfing... We need
to do a whole lot more taking care of the house while we're still living in
it... if you catch my drift. Every single experiment ever done with living
populations say diversity good, monoculture bad. It's a cornerstone to
chaotic self critical systems. You don't go screwing around with critical
ecologies without serious kaka falling out someplace you never even
expected. We don't even have the brights yet to make plans on the scale
you are suggesting, and we sure as hell shouldn't be making these kind of
impacts on the world in the one in a billion shot that it might prove to be
a good thing! There's a reason why nobody is agreeing!!! IT'S JUST TOO
COMPLICATED!!! Notice "Too Complicated" is not an invitation to
screw with. How many of you who have not had comercial jet training,
would feel comfortable taking a 747 up for a spin?!!! Then why in god's
name are you even talking about taking the planet for one?!!!

> > All in all I don't know how well Stossel has helped his cause with the
> > show. One interesting point is that probably a lot more people watched
> > it due to all the publicity gained by pulling the interviews with school
> > children at the last minute (interviews with other kids were substituted).
> And I think he got points for doing that in a way that illustrated the
> manipulativeness of the greens.

See this is really broken... it ain't the greens... and it ain't the business
nazis... it's people... and people are strange beasts... many hunger for
power and if they can get it through the collection of vast fortunes,
even to the detriment of their fellow human beings, you can count on
them doing that. Others find they can ahieve great power through social
or political cause. They are no less detrimental than the ones who uses
money as the vehicle for the collection and disbursement of power. Then
there are the masses... people who's ideas for the most part petrified by
the time they reached kindergarten. I knew a really bright guy at a job I
had a few years back. He was well read, sharp minded and a member
of PETA. He knew that I was an active environmentalist (I didn't say
however that I was deadly opposed to a number of environmental
organizations that based their movements not on sane, rational, goals
for providing a sustainable habitat, but on promoting what struck me as
more of a political agenda having almost nothing to do with long term
human existence. Forgive me in the end I'm a speciesist... I put humans
first above all, the other animals can line up behind us in single file by
complexity of brain function thank you.) Anyway, he was reading his
magazine and complaining that The Nature Conservancy (my fav group)
was killing feral pigs in Hawaii. He said it wasn't right... and asked him
was it right for a human introduced species to wipe out native flora and
fauna, to extinct entire populations of plants, insects and birds? He
said the wire traps were inhumane... I said, maybe we should train
a contingent of special pig ranglers, whose job it is to hunt the pigs down
and then perform oral sex on them until they die from pleasure. Then
added... the pigs are bad.. we put them there... the onus is on us to
fix the mess we made... if you want we can apologize to the spirit of
the pigs in an attempt to dissapate the bad karma... but the pigs have
to go. The sad part is he didn't get it... the pigs had every right to be
in his mind, even to the detriment of everything else. This guy is not one
wit worse than some executive slime at Phillip Morris, who thinks they
can slip one by and wrap up a genration of kids with Joe Camel... or
for that matter the human slime who bought Georgia Pacific in the mid
80s to provide hard backing against his crumbling junk bond empire.
He was a heartbeat from ending up like Milken, instead he bought a
company that owned the largest body of Redwoods in the world. A
company that had been around for generations, one that took good
care of it's people, it's resources, and had built a stratedgy to last for
generations more. This guy went in, liquidated the surplus retirement
funds raised because of the high interest rates of the 70s, used them
to pay off the hostile takeover and began the systematic stripmining
of redwoods in California. Cutting at 30 times the rate of the original
owners, selling to Japan, and putting dozens of local sawmills out of
business. In ten years, he will have cut down the last commercially
viable readwood. He will have wipe out the forest in 25 years, and
that will be it on the largest redwood forest in the world... all gone.
If we're lucky we'll have bought 2 or3% to turn into state parks. At
that point the Japanese will sell us back our own redwood, for ten
time the price they paid. They're good business men. Lousy human
beings, but good business men.

You can find heros and villains anywhere. That doesn't serve a very
useful purpose. I think that a more effective statedgy, might be to
look for what insures the best return on long term human survival
and ultimately evolutionary success. Anything that hurts the positive
likelihood of that outcome has to be carefully measured, and if need
be discarded as a threat to human longevity, and transcendance.

Poor stewardship of the planet (and in this case I'm talking of only
that thin layer filled with life that begins in priority with homo sapiens)
by both econazis and blind business fanatics, is a threat to our long
term survival and advancement. We must be better at making sure
the world is able to sustain us as we become what we dream of
becoming. Things are not doing wonderfully at the moment, one of
the first things we can begin, as growing sentients, is preserve the
viability of our place of birth... at least until we are born!


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