RE: Invasive Species
(23-04-2013 02:16 PM)Ghost Wrote: To, everyone.
I'll preface all of this with this. Read ISHMAEL by Daniel Quinn.
It will alter your life.
Thanks for the props
A lot of people have said things in response to your elephant post. I'm gonna let all of those exchanges stand because if I didn't I'd be here for the next day writing responses. So I'm just going to respond to you. Hopefully my response will touch on what some people have been saying and hopefully I'll be able to present the coming torrent of information in a manner that is easy to unpack.
Humans ARE an invasive species. The nuance is that we slowly migrated into new niches. Other species do that too. And if the process is slow enough, the receiving ecosystem has a chance to adjust. The difference between humans and other organisms is that we are intensely adaptable. So we can enter new niches rapidly. There have certainly been casualties as a result of the human migration from Africa. The woolly mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, the cave bear, the Cyprus pygmy hippopotamus, and the gigantic deer known as the Irish Elk (source: EO Wilson "The Future of Life"). All of that being said, humans are highly adaptable. Meaning that they can enter a new niche and, while becoming the apex predator, can insinuate themselves into the system without too much damage. This is why the instances of ecosystem collapse as a result of the African exodus are relatively low.
So yeah, the megafauna didn't do to well in our wake simply because prior to our arrival they really didn't have to worry about predators and so had inadequate defenses against human hunters, but for tens of thousands of years, we managed to enter new ecosystems around the world and rapidly found ways to become partners within them. For the vast majority of the history of the human species, from Homo habilus all the way through to Homo sapiens, aside from the megafauna that we killed, we've been as benign a force as any other species.
This, of course, changed.
The problem wasn't entering new ecosystems. The problem was what we did differently thousands of years after entering them.
The agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago allowed us to become sedentary. We promoted the regrowth of species we liked to eat and that we could use to our advantage. This too was relatively benign for another 5 000 years.
Because we were sedentary, we began making permanent structures and generating larger and larger food surpluses. This meant that groups could no longer divide and go their separate ways.
Division was important. Robin Dunbar determined that humans can maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships with 75 people at the ideal and 150 at the extreme. So when band tribes approached 150, they'd undergo mitosis (winding up at around the ideal population of 75) and go their separate ways. This allowed us to use interpersonal relationships and kin selection to maintain an egalitarian organisational structure.
As food supplies increased and populations rose beyond the Dunbar number, interpersonal relationships and kin selection were no longer sufficient to govern the organisation. The first societies that rose above the Dunbar number, to about 300 people, were called chieftancies. These were the first instances of hierarchy. But they were not full-blown civilisation. Many chieftancies occured even without the use of agriculture, like those that rose around the salmon runs of the Pacific Northwest.
Then civilisation hit.
5 000 years ago, civilisation arose independently in a few locations, around the great rivers: Tigris, Euphrates, Ganges, Yellow, Nile, Amazon... Civilisations boasted much larger populations, more hierarchical complexity and the complex division of labour.
Civilisation in and of itself is not a bad idea. But when a few memes took over, that was it.
The single biggest meme is UNLIMITED GROWTH. Unlimited growth permeates, utterly permeates, every part of Our culture. The problem with this is that you constantly expand. Because of that, you need a constantly increasing supply of inputs. Because of that you need to annex more land, make the land more productive and take more and more from the land.
This gives birth to the second meme: the world belongs to us. If it is a possession then we can do as we wish with it, claim as much as we want of it and take as much as we want from it. This is NOT an exclusively religious meme. It is a meme, like unlimited growth, that permeates Our culture.
NOTE: This is one of the PRIMARY reasons that I try desperately to explain to Atheists that the issue does not lie with religion but rather with a deeper level of complexity. If we don't understand this, then we could eliminate religion tomorrow and both the unlimited growth and world belongs to us memes would persist untouched. It would be same shit, different pile. If you don't believe me, go to the Harvard School of Business and find me a SINGLE DOCUMENT that preaches anything other than unlimited growth and treating the world like a set of inputs to be exploited.
If you expand unlimitedly, when you run out of room, you have to take it from someone else.
The society must become a power maximiser.
Smookler's Parable of the Tribes neatly explains the problem. Once one player in the system becomes a power maximiser, then that strategy MUST spread through and dominate that system. If you stand up to a power maximiser, they destroy you or assimilate you. If you run away, they take your land. The only way to fight them is to become them. Ergo, power maximisation cannot help but take over the system.
When I speak of Our culture (a Quinnian term) I mean the culture of power maximisation. Because that culture has spread across the face of the planet. Canada, the US, the UK, Russia, China, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, you name it, all of these countries are, at their core, the same. They are the same because they would not have survived otherwise. The East and West are (as Quinn notes) Twins of the Same Birth. Everywhere you look, save for those final outposts of extant tribal cultures, living in lands we don't want... yet, is Our culture.
The third component of our culture is the meme that says this: wipe out your competitors. This is why the strategy of Our culture is called the annihilator strategy. Wolves competing with you? Wipe them out. Bugs? Wipe them out. Jews? Wipe them out. Islam? Wipe it out. Paganism? Wipe it out. Forests? Wipe them out. Communists? Wipe them out. Insert competition here. Wipe it out.
Our culture is the perfect storm: It only ever grows, takes whatever it wants in ever increasing quantity and destroys anything that gets in its way.
I can go on for a lot longer on this, but I'm gonna bring it back in now.
This, it needs to be noted, is a CULTURAL phenomenon, not a GENETIC one. If it were genetic, then every single human society would do it. That is not the case.
So when people say that HUMANS are parasitic, they are incorrect. Our culture is a parasitic culture.
Historically, Our culture has hit the secondary limits to growth time and time again. It's a constant cycle of grow, collapse, regroup, grow, collapse. For those of you paying attention, this cycle is demonstrated in stunning brilliance in The Matrix trilogy (do yourself a favour and watch the Matrix philosophy DVD). And that's not even getting into the cycle of revolution that Orwell dramatised in the absolutely brilliant Animal Farm.
On a long enough timeline, Our culture will hit the primary limit to growth.
That's the problem I outlined in my last post.
The problem is changing directions. That has proven difficult (which is another conversation entirely that has a lot to do with game theory, but one that explains WHY when people like you and I say, "hey, ain't we destroying our only planet," that we don't actually CHANGE the manner in which we make our living).
There are two possible outcomes to all of this. 1 - We change. 2 - We fuck up the biosphere to the point that we kill off our species. If we fail in the first, then the latter solution will be imposed on us.
So, to ensure our survival is simple. We need to change... ASTONISHINGLY EASIER SAID THAN DONE I'm afraid.
Hope this was of value to you. Questions and comments are welcome
Peace and Love and Empathy,
I have to agree with almost all of that...
Have you read 'The Selfish Gene' the kind of stuff you are talking about remindes me of Dawkins' chapter on Prisoners Dilemma and Iterated Prisoners Dilemma...We keep playing defect because it's the safest bet when the stakes are high but given enough time we could learn to cooperate...The problem is that we are in/effecting nearly every ecosystem on earth so we don't have the time/iterations necessary to work ourselves into a stable cooperation strategy, the nuclear age has transformed this into a zero sum game, the stakes have been thoroughly heightened....The only thing that will pull us out of this nose dive is a heck of a lot of education, reform, and cooperation...front brain thought power, unflinching realism, staunch rationalism and most importantly trust.
The only points of contension being:
1) I don't think we where ever truly in harmony with the rest of nature, nothing really is...Every species takes what it can get and expands as far and fast as possible, species that don't fail to pass down genes. Expand, expand, expand is not a meme it's instinct, it was present in tribal life we just never had the means to encounter our upward boundaries and cross into wastefulness or large scale environmental destruction until post civilization/post agriculture. The lion fish sees no difference between the Pacific and the Atlantic. In most ecosystems predators keep other species in check, and competition/scarcity is what keeps predators in check through starvation. Basically I just want to say that we are not corrupted by the idea of society, society is corrupted by the underlying tendencies of a social hunter gatherer.
2)You are correct that religion is not the prime cause of such strife and derision but it does mask it, it does twist and distort (for it's own purposes) the simple truth that is plain to see (that we are all one people divided against each other by fear and greed). It vilifies it's rivals, it competes for numbers and by doing so it falls in with the bankers embracing the same doctrine of expanionsim. It does prevent society en mass from learning enough and being rational enough to accept scientific data and allow it to guide public policy. Religion tells us that they are not like us and they cannot be trusted, that our greed is righteous and that their god is false. Science tells us that we are all playing the same loosing game and that all gods are false.