Pack your trash people. We have done our job. We can move on. The earth now has … plastic!
Couldn’t agree more. Especially with the last 20 seconds or so.
Carlin was a genous – no doubt about that.
His bit DID remind me of a concept I read some time ago that went something like … homo sapien is the only species in the history of the planet that can both cause another species extinction and/or save another species from extinction through our actions. This fact puts a certain amount of responsibility on us that other species don’t need to bother with. I think Carlin got this one partially wrong. Humans are unique to the world, we are different. He is right about the longterm and the earth (except for the sentient being thing) but wrong in the short term. And I know – its satire so don’t take it literally…
But he WAS an amazing man – I hope his records are still around in another 4 billion years…
“Genous”…could be “genus” or “genius”, your call.
Many extinction events have occurred when one species encounters another for the first time. When the land bridge from North America to South America opened the Giant Carnivorous Birds went extinct in short order, Why? They could not compete with the Big Cats and Dogs that come down through panama.
Where we are different from other species is that it does occur to us that we might want to ‘save’ another species. That is a noble impulse. It also demonstrates a God complex. I think Carlin was getting at the hubris that comes from our God complex. I agree with him there. We have three or four major extinction events according to the geologic record — stuff way worse than plastic. The earth was charred twice and frozen once, and flooded once. Still, here we are.
Competition has wiped out more than 99% of all known species. New ones have not been noticed forming, but that is a slower process according to Darwin’s theories. Either way, in geologic terms we are a blip on the timeline, and the industrial revolution, not even that. We are no where near as important as we think we are.
Jacob, As a geolosit, I am aware of all the extinction events. Indeed, they are crucial to the evolution of the species. And while, yes, one species being better adapted to a certain environment than another can cause the extinction of the less fortunate species, one can hardly blame the bear for the extinction of a species of salmon (to use a hypothetical). But there IS a big difference between extinctions that are a simple by-product of evolution and even mass extinctions caused by catostrophic events and the mass extinctions we see due to human expansion and over use of the environment. It speaks volumes that you have to look at aesteriod collision-type events to find a natural (i.e., non-human) processes that rivals our impact, does it not?
When any herd over uses its environment, it compromises its own collective health and the herd is weakended and dies back (due to disease and predation) as a natural biofeedback process. On a larger scale, this is what Carlin is suggesting might happen to us – in his own unique manner. So if THAT is the great hope for our species (and the environment we impact – the earth) isn’t that a bit sad given that we are able to CHOOSE a different path. Isn’t that very ability that God gave us EXACTLY what makes us different from a herd of buffalo or the dinosaurs, for instance? Don’t you think this is the very essence of Genesis 1:28?
That is the point of what I was saying and it is what Carlin is missing – probably intentionally, he was obviously no dumbass it just makes for better comedy this way.
As to hubris, yes, from a eon perspective it is hubris to think we are more than blips in the universe (not even that) – that does not mean we have no responsibility to play our own small roles with the unique set of tools we have been provided. In terms of the generations of humans that have walked the earth as my ancestors and those that are to come as my offspring, I am nothing but a passing blip – inconsequential. Does this mean I am excused from acting in MY role responsibly and from being (for instance) the best parent and son I possibly can be?
You are a geologist by training? Cool. I will do the Jack thing and ask you to learn how to spell ‘geolosit.’ Its for your own good.
“But there IS a big difference between extinctions that are a simple by-product of evolution and even mass extinctions caused by catostrophic events and the mass extinctions we see due to human expansion and over use of the environment.”
I guess this gets down the following issue: are humans but part of the nature and therefore but one more species, one with global reach and terrifyingly dangerous or are we ‘special’ in that we have dominion and therefore are responsible for husbanding the environment. I ask this, because whenever I get into one of these conversations I see people going first into corner, and then the other. It cannot be both. I am therefore asking you to clarify your position here.
“It speaks volumes that you have to look at aesteriod collision-type events to find a natural (i.e., non-human) processes that rivals our impact, does it not?”
We certainly have global reach Eric. But other such world wide wipe-outs have occurred before. To non-placental mammals — the coming of the placentals was a holocaust. This occurred more gradually, but the result was the same, and it was global as well. The same thing occurred to the non-saurian reptiles when the dinosaurs wiped out their competition. The chief difference is the time scale. Time scale makes something more tractable to the human mind, but seriously do you believe it really matters form an ethical point of view?
We are different from the rest of the placentals in that it occurs to us to even concern ourselves with this issue. OK. Does that make us worse? We are just doing what all life does, we are expanding, breeding, eating and eventual fouling our environment. If we are just another product of evolution, how are we morally culpable for being poor stewards of our environment?
“Isn’t that very ability that God gave us EXACTLY what makes us different from a herd of buffalo or the dinosaurs, for instance? Don’t you think this is the very essence of Genesis 1:28?”
I find what you wrote here fascinating. Do you believe that God exists? Given previous conversations, I would not have thought so. Can you answer this, I would appreciate a yes or no.
BTW, I do believe that we have a responsibility to treat creation with respect. But this is a function of our dominion over creation. Respect for creation does not equal zero human presence.
As for our ancestors, they fouled their environments badly. There were fewer of them so the fouling was highly localized. For instance the Iroquois moved their villages every 20 yearss of so, because typically in that period of time the land was exhausted in that locality. The game was hunted out, and the farmland was depleted. I pick this example because I am so sick of the racist image of the noble inhuman American Indian. Either a drunk savage, or, some super Noble being at one with Holy Nature. Both are caricatures.
“…ask you to learn how to spell ‘geolosit.’ Its for your own good..”
Indeed, we are not known for our typing skills, Jacob.
“…are we ’special’ in that we have dominion and therefore are responsible for husbanding the environment…”
As I outlined, it is clear we are “special” or different animals with a special responsibility in regards to the environment. Please note, though that this is not an evaluation of “worth”.
“…but seriously do you believe it really matters form an ethical point of view?”
Ethics do not come into play when evaluating time frame of ultimate effect of us following our animalistic instincts. Ethics come into play when we look at the fact that we are choosing to follow these instincts when we don’t have to KNOWING the impact of these choices.
“…how are we morally culpable for being poor stewards of our environment?” I think you answer your own question.
“Do you believe that God exists?” Absolutely.
“Respect for creation does not equal zero human presence.”
“Both are caricatures.”
While he was doing his bit, Eric did come to mind.
It is March 3, 2015, 6:08 am