Natural Balance?

Twink (
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 19:40:33 -0500 (EST)

At 18:26:10 Wed, 17 Dec 1997 -0500 Mike Everett <>
>Wether you like it or not, we are under the mercy of nature and the
>natural world. Humans may not have any predators, or kill or be killed
>all the time, but did you ever stop to think that perhaps this is a bad

But humans are killed all the time, not only by other humans, but by
viruses, bacteria, etc. For the record, I feel it is a good thing that
humans are not routinely chased and killed by leopards or wolf packs
in my neighborhood. Those that feel otherwise are always free to light
out for the wild places and go one on one with their favorite predator.

>I know it sounds very absured, BUT... nature developed the way it did
>for a reason, and it has its system of balances.

I disagree. The Earth's biosphere developed as it did just because of
the contigencies that happened throughout its history. Humans are
not outside of it, but it is not a system of balances. There certainly are
some processes that appear to balance, but their is no design or
reason for these. They just happened to come about and are stable
for now. Many other things are unstable or only metastable.

>Ever stopped to think about what kind of pisition we're really in. We
>have no predators.

One word: shark!

>We've learned how to farm and now have a surplus of food. We're
>breaking nature's set balances, and isn't life grand?

The balance metaphor fits more the TV documentary view of the wild
than the reality. Other organisms, from trees to bees, create
Some even upset so called balances -- look at the spread of aerobic
bacteria or postCambrian animals. These changes literally destroyed
prior ecosystems. Today, as far as we know, there are no preCambrian
animals and anaerobic bacteria are still around, but have a very

>What happens when those checks and balances aren't there to keep
>things under control? Population increase. With less death, and more
>food, the population increases; obvious enough. Population increases,
>and demand for food and living space does too, does it not? What
>happens when the worlds population gets so large that there isn't
>enough living space and food? We'll have to end up destroying critical
>ecosystems so that we can pile ourselves into their space. And what
>happens when that living space is full?

This all sounds like the conventional environmental view of life on
Earth. The problem is there is no real population problem for humans.
There are some management problems, which free markets and
assigning property rights can take care of, but the Earth's human
population is relatively small given the human capacity for efficient
use of resources.

For a post on an Extropian/transhumanist list this does not seem to
display a familiarity with some of the basic literature. I recommend
the works of Julian Simon, especially _The Ultimate Resource_. (Simon
is not an Extropian. He's merely an economist who decided to see if
the data fit the Malthusian view of scarcity. It didn't and he was
enough to see that.)

>Predators, and prey are here for a reason. Our universe is a universe of
>opposites. When there is too many of one or the other, things become
>unstable, but when there is equal amounts, peace and balance. Light
>and dark, predators and prey, positive charge and negative charge,
>good and evil.

This begins to sound like something from a pamphlet. Opposites are
only so in relation to the human mind. In reality, things just are what
they are.

>Think about a virus for a minute. Similar to something living, a virus'
>only purpose is basically to destroy life. Why did it ever
>evlove/develope/come to be? For what purpose? Maybe a natural
>population control.

Maybe not. By this reckoning, anything that depends on using
something else has its "only purpose" as "to destroy life." If
can be applied to viruses, then it would appear their purpose is to make
more of themselves. Destroying only happens incidentally. In fact,
many (most?) viruses do not kill. Witness the common cold.

>Ever notice usually when there's a large spread of disease
>in nature, it seems to come out of no where, kills of the abudence of
>animals, and then is gone again just like that.

It would seem Mike Everett wants to think there is some cunning power
that creates diseases to cull the population. What actually happens is
diseases spread and the ones that kill their hosts tend to burn out
very quickly. This is not balance. It's actually a metastable state.
Such diseases can only survive in very regions, which is why epidemics
are so rare. If they were not, they would wipe out their host
and in the process destroy themselves. To be sure, some do, and
they are no longer around to inflict themselves on other hosts.

>Who knows perhaps in that sense guns could be a good thing, if the
>population ever gets out of hand, there's bound to be disagreements
>and discord, maybe we'll all kill eachother off and things will be all
>peachy again.

Actually, the opposite seems to happen. In the US, states that have
less gun control, have less violence. If this was not the case,
would have destroyed itself long ago. Recall guns have been around
for how many centuries?

>Same with disease. We keep finding cures and more lethal and
>complex diseases arrive. A sign maybe?

Maybe not. Perhaps people long ago died of some of these diseases,
but they were diagnosed as something else. If, e.g., AIDS is really
caused by HIV, would some tribe in the Congo be able to tell whether
one of its member died because of HIV killing his/her immune system
or just that that person had a weak immune system and caugh

Also, note how few people are actually afflicted with these rare, new
diseases. Heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans,
for example, and the cure is pretty easy in most cases.

>Ok I know you're thinking now that I'm way off the subject, and I am.
>:) Just thought it was an interesting point to touch upon. Ever notice
>it's universally accepted that basically man was meant to conquer the
>earth, and that the earth was almost made for man's triumphs. We
>don't even think about it, we just accept it. Why live at the mercy of
>nature when nature can live at the mercy of us? There are reasons
>why. There are laws to life and balances. If we don't abide by them,
>something's bound to happen.

This sounds like a recipe for dictatorship. I say, yes, there are
natural laws, but these are not the warm and fuzzy "all is balance"
ones. And they need to be understood not idolized.

>We keep progressing, and searching for new technology, but to what

If one has to ask...

>And for what purpose?


>We seem to want to achieve and ultimate standard of living, food for
>all, no pain. But at this rate will we ever get there? Think of all the
>cultures we consider primative. There are many island cultures, very
>old, some culutres tens of thousands of years old. And the thing is,
>they have discovered a way of life that works for them. They are
>content, they take what they need, and give back. They follow the
>balance. Now if they can survive in peace with nature for that long, it's
>damn amazing feat.

Which ones? The Tahitian society that Cook found, for instance, was
a strict oligarchy, where one tribe basically squashed another. This
noble savage stuff is way off.

>And when we come and wipe them out with our
>guns, to take their land and resources for our expanding population it's
>actually quite sickening.

I agree because it is done _involuntarily_. The actual process of
imperialism does not really pay off and most resources, throughout
history have not come from colonies. They were usually side issues.
For example, the British in the late 19th century -- the heyday of
colonialism of this sort -- traded much more with the rest of Europe
and America than it did with Africa.

>That system of living, all that knowledge, down the drain.

I would not fret over that but over the violation of individual rights,
specifically the murder and enslavement that went on. But European
colonials, bad as they were, were not in all cases attacking totally
innocent noble savages. In many cases, they were just the latest
conquerors. Recall the Aztecs had a huge empire before the Spanish
decided to get a piece of the action.

>Heh, well as you can see I'm totally of the subject now, but I'm into
>this, screw guns, I have my opinions you have yours.

That last statement is the last refuge of people who have no
Opinions are not primaries.

Daniel Ust