Previous Entry Share Next Entry
A resounding “Meh.”
surreality, chameleons in space!, space
saxifrage00
So it’s the anniversary of the moon landings. Am I the only one who’s reaction is firstly “meh,” and secondly, “well, bloody lot we’ve managed to do since then, isn’t it?”

Am I supposed to be impressed that we hit the moon in 1969 and have done jack all to get us into space since? It’s actually rather depressing.

Less sardonically facetious, I’m not all that about the landing’s anniversary, but I do look around at current efforts and have to feel like we’re in a much less imaginative age. We’re making great strides with electronics and communications technology here on Earth, and that’s cool and stuff, but it won’t do us much good when we overcrowd the planet. We’re way behind the curve for getting into space. China has a space program now, to get out there and off the planet, and I’m pleased—someone needs to do it. Bush has the imagination and vision of a spirochete when you put him beside Kennedy, and the Democrats are trying to ape him and the Republicans so much that it’s laughable that NASA will ever regain the peak that they reached with Apollo 11.

A resounding “Meh.”

  • 1
Huh. That word 'viable' is an odd one in this context, especially with a trip to the dictionary. I think our ability to achieve long-term sustainability here (whatever those buzzwords look like RL) is a better benchmark of our 'viability' than our ability to leave the planet *without* that.

Do you have different levels of viability for different species? For instance, are dolphins, crocodiles, horses, and cockroaches rated differently than humans (intelligent species) here?

It's interesting, I'm not terribly attached to my species survival beyond my own personal survival because I have great faith in Life Of Some Kind surviving somehow. It seems to be sufficient for me, and makes me kind of unfortunately curious as to what'll come along to inhabit the human-altered environment - whether we're still here or not, but certainly beyond my lifetime.

It's interesting, I'm not terribly attached to my species survival beyond my own personal survival because I have great faith in Life Of Some Kind surviving somehow.

Strangely enough, I feel similarly. This might sound depressing, but to me it's not: it's quite possible that the Earth does have a better chance of recovery if we as human beings wipe ourselves out. Except for the thought of that kind of armageddon riding in on our hubris during *my* lifetime, it just seems like the natural order of things.

If we got out into space and terraformed and colonized other planets, would we screw them up too? Become universal nomads leaving a trail of decimated worlds behind us?

Nah. Humans are not the be-all and end-all. Our survival as a species is not worth all that.

I have a lot of trouble with scenarios that leave *all life* (incl. ocean-vent, polar ice, etc) gone but leave the Earth intact. So yeah, I agree that if humans are wiped out, stuff will come back somehow.

I think, though, that things just *can't* get bad enough to wipe *everything else* out, but not humans. There will be some crazy evolution, stuff might be on a smaller or different scale than we're used to, but things will adjust. That's what things do.

The longer we continue as we are, the more interesting it will be, though the time-frame grows longer for some of that to be observable.

A lot of sustainability, to my mind, is a cover-our-own-ass sort of thing. I mean, so we go, and screw up other planets-- what's there now (IMNSHO) isn't the be-all and end-all of the universe. On our planet, things are always changing-- and you know and I know that evolution isn't about coming to a best-end but instead is about finding whatever best fits the current circumstances from a random cast of the dice. So we survive, and leave a trail behind us, and those places are changed, that's not such a bad thing to my mind in an absolute sense.

I think that for humanity, we need a sense of continuity, of preservation of the past and that sort of thing, just for sanity's sake. I worry about the scenario that you present because it makes me feel bad about us and our ability to cherish things, not because I think it's a great harm to the world(s) in any way.

I sound like I'm contradicting myself in this post, and I suppose I am. I guess there's my gardening moral set, and my human moral set.

I worry about the scenario that you present because it makes me feel bad about us and our ability to cherish things, not because I think it's a great harm to the world(s) in any way.

*If* we cherish and value, then the scenario will not come to pass.

If we do not -- well, we as a species can lie in the bed that we've made.

I'm not trying to predict one way or the other how things will turn out, as I don't pretend to know the limits and capabilities of the human race as a whole; I will only say that I'm selfish enough to hope that such a thing does not happen during my time on the planet.

Amen. Although-- I would, really, so love to see a few million years down the line, just to know.

if humans are wiped out, stuff will come back somehow.

I believe that too. The difference in my perspective comes from my belief that interesting stuff needs time to develop. Perhaps pruning off dead ends of the evolutionary tree, being a necessary thing, will require humans not making it. Regardless, life is going to keep on keepin' on, and Earth may just have a good chance of being the source of some phenomenally amazingly transcendental form of life. My objection to not getting off the planet isn't so much a "we need to suck up more resources" argument as a "relying on a single small rock to sustain Life is a recipe for disaster."

Life doesn't tend to put all its eggs in one basket, but the surface of a planet is one basket on a certain scale. To grow upward, life needs to move outward just a little, so that an errant asteroid, plague, climate change, or (gods forbid) nuclear apocalypse doesn't undo all the "work" life has done so far in developing.

Of course, if humans don't make it, then obviously we're not on the branch of evolutionary development that is properly set up to reach those heights of transcendent development. I do think we've the potential, though, and part of that potential is in our social system. As such, I want to get people to care about getting into space and I'm doing it through the social channels we have. Thus, an interesting thread is born. :-)

Interesting stuff has time. Whatever happens, we can't stop time (okay, I do eat my words a lot, but on this?). Sometimes things change quickly. Sometimes things change slowly. I don't see why humans being around, or not being around, has anything much to do with time?

A tree is a really interesting metaphor for life, in the sense of 'evolutionary tree'. You can prune the tips, and it'll grow back into the vacant space. You can not prune it, and the branches will compete until some die for lack of light, and leave dry sticks hidden beneath the green growth (or sometimes smaller branches will share space where you could have one big branch). Or you can cut the whole thing back to the root, leave some bacteria and algae scattered on top of not-much, and it'll come back. You can build a fence next to the tree, and it will engulf this human-made structure, assimilating it and working around it and using it. Gods, ahve you seen how well ivy does in cities? Dandelions in sidewalk cracks? Blackberries in vacant lots? They're *using* us, using our changes, and more will come along that can do that.

Trees don't only grow upwards, either, nor is that a goal (google cordon apple espalier to prove me wrong). If you prune out all the bottom branches, they spring out bushy stuff there too-- because in practice life doesn't seek to occupy heights, but instead to occupy all space, all niches, as many as possible.

Plague? Climate change? Nuclear apocalypse? We'll be gone, maybe, and the 'work' to fill any niches wiped out will be done again, maybe with surprising similarity, maybe note. If we're not gone? Those niches will be filled just the same. When there are many vacant niches, the fossil record shows us that tons of huge, weird, exotic things happen for awhile. Right now we're in a period of paring back, of emptying existing niches and creating new and different ones. Come over someday, though, and I'll show you the poplar tree I cut down to a stick two weeks ago. It's taking up its space again fine, just with different branches.

It's very sad, to us, that those things are gone, and it makes us a little less of the good parts of human that we're responsible for that, and that we're responsible for it so knowingly. I find it fascinating that you use the word 'transcendant' there. I believe in these cycles, birth and death, very firmly, and I believe there won't be people *some day*. I believe, too, that we could transcend some of these cycles in a local way (this year, next year, a millennium from now) and that might be a very special thing.

I don't think I'd want to transcend the cycles like this 'forever'. Maybe it's just cause I can't imagine how long that might be, though.


I'm concerned about time because the distance between the basic lifeforms that would survive a global "reset" and the transendent potentials that Life has is so vast. Life has only got so long in this universe before the universe collapses on itself or burns out, and it may possibly be a very close race between that and whatever it is that Life might possibly become actually coming to pass.

Consider this: life grows. What do universes do? Create life. What for? Seen from the outside, the endless parade of universes is just a line of meaningless, inert dots, until one of them produces something more interesting than itself. Maybe life is what will do it, by growing beyond its bounds. When I speak of transcendence, this is what I'm going for.

I don't know if humans will have any role to play in that development, but I certainly don't want us to make our chances of helping worse by sitting all alone on a rock and letting entropy tear this particular pocket of life down so early in the game.d

'Course, this is borrowing a whole universe-load of trouble, so it's mostly academic. Still, it does come down to me just wanting us to get out into space.

It only just occurred to me, but a sci-fi example of the kind of direction people could go, and a good reason for getting out there into space, is the Ousters from Dan Simmons' Hyperion series.

I haven't read it, but I'm trying to wrap my mind around what you're saying.

You're saying that there is an... unfilled evolutionary niche which must be reached to make the life thing worthwhile (like land was unfilled at one point, and then the air), that we're all moving in a specific direction which can be derailed by having to start over again in the time we have left. Er. Or something?

And that this as-yet-unfilled evolutionary niche is 'outside the universe'? And is possibly a... type of consciousness, or something?

I've always had trouble with, what's the term, I used to know it... with that idea of evolution as having any specific goal, with the idea of something being 'better' or 'closer to a more worthwhile endpoint' than anything else. I think a system with only single-celled life is less varied and thus less interesting, but I don't think of it as a 'problem' to worry about because it's not producing something like us, or because it's not producing consciousness.

There's something to be said for calling the whole web an organism (you know my forest-nutrient-sharing talk, I think. Short is: they do) and I feel like that sort of organism (complicated) is more worthwhile than something conscious or mobile or whatnot, but that's just a religious feeling on my part. In any case, that feeling rejects the idea that something which 'leaves' and becomes unconnected from its roots (assuming it can, given the vast number of nonhuman organisms inside us we need to live, see intestinal fauna etc) is better than anything. Interesting, sure, cause it seems impossible/hard.

The idea of human/ecosystem type organisms (sci-fi example is a crew, a hydroponics facility, and the micro-stuff in there) seeding outwards is interesting, but... the point of it all? Eh.

The planet can likely bounce back from about 95% life lost. It's done it before. The biggest extinction event left only something like 5% of all the living critters alive. (was that the cambrien extinction? can't remember)

I have great confidance in life to bounce back. Everytime they tell us that life can only live within certian perameters, something crops up outside those perameters. We've got crabs that live in water hot enough to melt lead, plants in antartica that only come alive for 1/2 an hour every year, things like live of toxic combinations of chemicals. I worry about larger animals, but life in and of itself has proven to be much harder to kill off than anyone thought before.

There is also the possibility that Human's are reaching the end of their lifespan as a species anyway. We're pretty much at the edge of the average lifespan for mamals (something like 100k years or so, I might have my figures off)

While I have great confidance in our destructive power I don't have total confidence in it.

I have great confidance in life to bounce back. Everytime they tell us that life can only live within certian perameters, something crops up outside those perameters. We've got crabs that live in water hot enough to melt lead, plants in antartica that only come alive for 1/2 an hour every year, things like live of toxic combinations of chemicals. I worry about larger animals, but life in and of itself has proven to be much harder to kill off than anyone thought before.

This is approximately what I was trying to say, except that I don't worry abou tthe larger animals. If they poof, something else will come along eventually.

(That sounds pretty terrible, put that way)

Hah. That's what I get hitting reply in gmail without looking to see who posted. I agree with what you wrote. My post was in response to what I thought was Kynnin's reply to me, which seemed to be him reversing himself a little.

Ah, gotcha -- makes much more sense now :)

I imagine. I haven't figured out how to make gmail not fold non-subject'ed lj emails into one, immensely long and very confusing horror-movie-type-thing.

Yeah, that's one of the reasons I haven't replaced my Yahoo account with my gmail account yet. We shall see, though -- I like it in every other way.

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account