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Jobs/economic growth vs. protecting species

How do we balance it? Unfortunately what is good for the economy: fossil fuel production, factories, farming, housing development. Is bad for our environment. More specifically it's bad for our fellow species survival.

So how do we strike a balance?

A current debate in the U.S.A is the Keystone pipeline that would transport heavy oil from the Canadian tar sands.

If one does not believe there should be any limitation on development of the earth than please explain ethically why humans may do with the earth whatever it chooses.


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  • Jul 10 2013: We have to get smart enough and wise enough to stop thinking that this is a trade-off situation.

    In the USA, most people of my generation learned from the Bible that man is the steward of nature, with complete dominion over the beasts and plants. Now I consider that a falsehood, or more charitably, a myth that missed the mark. Humans are just another species of great ape. We are part of nature, which is so complicated and interconnected that we can never fully understand the consequences of our actions. When people fully understand this, they realize the foolishness of destroying our habitat. Picture a gorilla intentionally destroying the forest he lives in. People would immediately think that the gorilla is crazy sick. We are doing exactly that, on a scale that is staggering.

    We are so accustomed to thinking about issues as trade-offs that we have a hard time perceiving that in most cases there are win-win solutions. Check out these talks:

    Paul MacCready on nature vs. humans
    Rob Harmon: How the market can keep streams flowing
    Johan Rockstrom: Let the environment guide our development
    John Doerr sees salvation and profit in greentech
    William McDonough: Cradle to cradle design
    Majora Carter: 3 stories of local eco-entrepreneurship
    Allan Savory: How to fight desertification and reverse climate change

    As Paul MacCready says, the game is over. The globe is a new and different globe, and if we do not learn this lesson soon enough, there will be no later.
    • Jul 10 2013: I agree there could and should be win win solutions. But reality sets in and civilization still needs oil, minerals, and millions of acres of land.

      I think my question digs deeper. How much is too much human development and how could we ever fairly restrict it? To say that there is a win win solution is to say we have yet to be invented sources of energy, food production, and mineral extraction that does not harm ecosystems. I am not aware of the eco communes, food forests, or permaculture catching on fast so where does this win win solution come from?
      • Jul 10 2013: Win win solutions come from creative thinking. Start by taking a close look at the definition of the so-called problems. Civilization needs energy, not necessarily oil. We need minerals, and most of them are available in our trash. The millions of acres of land can be lifted up to our roofs, as William McDonough shows in his talk.

        Right now we are going through a transition, and oil and natural gas and the mining of minerals from the earth will continue for a time. But now is the time to readjust our thinking. For example, Is the Keystone pipeline really all that important? The main consequence of killing that pipeline will be higher gas prices, which will reduce the consumption of oil and force many millions of Americans to trim their budgets, perhaps by reducing their consumption of fast foods. Lower economic development does not equate with a worse quality of life. Many of us would have better lives by consuming less. The real reason that pipeline is a big issue is because a small number of people have millions at stake, and they know how to use the media to promote their cause.

        This generation understands something that previous generations did not even imagine. One day, all of our processes will be sustainable. That requires cradle-to-cradle design, with recycling of every thing.

        "How much is too much human development and how could we ever fairly restrict it?"

        This question would never occur to me. It is impossible to restrict human development on a global scale, and competition makes it impossible on a national scale. I gave up trying to do anything fairly in the real world, it is difficult enough to do it in games.

        Restrictions just will not work. The solution is wisdom and creativity, and we must learn quickly.
        • Jul 10 2013: So we need a cultural change. The market may nudge us to do things differently but not necessarily much better.
    • Jul 19 2013: I.e. the former large culture and inhabitants on Easter Island brought about their own demise by cutting down all the trees on the island. This caused the termination of building boats which allowed them their only subsistence by fishing. Apparently this laying waste to their land culminated in the inhabitants having to seek shelter in caves and starving to death. In the same manner we are depleting our natural resources to the point of our own detriment and perhaps eventual extinction. All due to unfettered, thoughtless immediate greed.

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