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Author Topic: Greed  (Read 3725 times)
westkybitcoins
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August 02, 2012, 05:37:33 AM
 #41


.......

I'll bite.

If it isn't the elimination of a given species, then what is the problem that greed is causing in these instances?


I think he was arguing that in fact the people causing the elimination don't actually own the species.  Their livelihood depends on it, but who cares as long as there are enough for them to harvest within their lifetime?

Well, that was part of my point. In many places, endangered species aren't allowed to be owned. So, people poach to get them, and if they poach, they aren't going to be too concerned about taking care of the herds.

Ideally, the fact that animals are roaming on what's considered public property shouldn't prevent people from being able to round up and own them.

Still though, if some problem beyond elimination of a species was actually FirstAscent's concern, I'd like to hear it.

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August 02, 2012, 06:51:56 AM
 #42

It's quite unfortunate, I know. A lot of people judge me without merit before getting to know me.

Giving in to greed isn't the hard part, but it is the most important part. You'll never win big if you don't take risks. The real issue is learning to curb it.

All Greed is good in moderation.

What is the meaning of moderation in the context of a primal motivator?
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August 02, 2012, 07:10:08 AM
 #43

It's quite unfortunate, I know. A lot of people judge me without merit before getting to know me.

Giving in to greed isn't the hard part, but it is the most important part. You'll never win big if you don't take risks. The real issue is learning to curb it.

All Greed is good in moderation.

What is the meaning of moderation in the context of a primal motivator?

Moderation means using your brain instead of overdoing it based on instinct.

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August 02, 2012, 09:56:53 AM
 #44

Overdoing what. Like I said it's a primal motivator, like fear of death and attraction to mating with those of the same species and a different sex. Following the motivator can be moderated. The motivator itself just is ...
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August 02, 2012, 10:43:25 AM
 #45

My opinion on greed is that eventually enough money is enough money. Anymore and it's not helping anyone sitting in vault somewhere. If you can already afford everything your heart desires then what is the point of just adding to the pile at the expense of others? Money is only useful if you spend it.

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August 02, 2012, 11:28:32 AM
 #46

Please do not confine your opinion of greed to money.
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August 02, 2012, 11:33:45 AM
 #47

Sumatran rhino horn is now valued at $30,000 due to its dwindling supply. Nothing like a dwindling supply of Sumatran rhino horn, a sky rocketing price, coupled with greed to accelerate the demise of this species.

And nothing like free markets to assure their survival: https://mises.org/daily/5960/Property-Means-Preservation

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August 02, 2012, 11:34:52 AM
 #48

If not greed, what is the motivation for toxic waste dumping?

Lack of property rights, or lack of respect for such rights.

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August 02, 2012, 04:34:04 PM
 #49

Greed is what made life what it is. Without greed the cavemen really don't get out of the caves. Maybe they die off. I always remembered these lines from the movie Apocalypto where an old man is telling a story "I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, 'I am no more and I have nothing left to give.'"


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August 02, 2012, 06:28:32 PM
 #50

Well, that was part of my point. In many places, endangered species aren't allowed to be owned. So, people poach to get them, and if they poach, they aren't going to be too concerned about taking care of the herds.

Ideally, the fact that animals are roaming on what's considered public property shouldn't prevent people from being able to round up and own them.

Still though, if some problem beyond elimination of a species was actually FirstAscent's concern, I'd like to hear it.

Okay, so let's go a little bit more in depth.

This one is something I'm surprised still has legs: the idea that declaring a species off-limits (or as belonging to "the commons") helps it to survive.

There's no shortage of cows or chickens. No one holds protests with signs saying "Save the Corn!"

When people are allowed to have ownership of a thing, and have a free market where they can profit from said thing, and have no guarantee of a bailout or entitlement should they screw up, then they have every incentive to manage their property well enough to continue profiting. When it comes to animals & plants, that generally means managing them well enough that they continue to reproduce more.

There are a number of flaws in your assumptions. We can walk through this.

To begin with, many species do not reproduce well in captivity. It took 112 years to yield a successful Sumatran rhino calf. Furthermore, poachers are simply not likely to expend such efforts, even if sanctioned, as it's much more profitable to simply poach, i.e. go out into the wild and kill. One need only look at the case of shark fins to understand the cost dynamics. Secondly, you are failing to acknowledge the public backlash in breeding megafauna for the cruel purpose of maiming (or in the case of pelts) killing the animal.

Before we go on, let's enumerate some well known cases of poaching:

- Gorillas for bushmeat
- Elephants for ivory
- Sumatran rhino for their horns
- Sharks for shark fins
- Tigers (and other big cats) for their pelts

Cattle are not killed for their horns or hooves alone. Cattle is an industry, and it does not analogize well. Most of the public accept the cattle industry. Most of the public do not accept killing animals which are endangered for specific parts, usually decorative. All of a cattle's parts are used when killed. This includes muscle tissue, organs, bones, hides and hooves. As an example, did you know that gummy bears are made from cow hooves?

I can sense that at this point, you might feel poised to counter some of the points I've made, and if you took one or two individually, you might feel that you'd have a case. But we haven't even begun, as I haven't yet shared with you what the real reason is for why I declared your statement to be based on false assumptions.

So let's begin. Some of the following material is derived from posts I have written in the past, but I think it will have greater effect if I merge it together here with a few edits and additions. Please read it through thoroughly.

Ever heard of the Spotted Owl and the controversy surrounding it? What was all that about?

The Spotted Owl is a top level predator in the northwest. It was declared an umbrella species (otherwise known as a keystone or flagship species), and listed as endangered. The timber industry had an issue with this. Here's why. The purpose of listing the Spotted Owl as an umbrella species was because in order to preserve the Spotted Owl population, the old growth forests in the northwest would have to be preserved as well. That meant the timber industry would not be allowed to harvest existing old growth forests.

Why are old growth forests important? Because they offer what are called ecosystem services. Secondary growth forests do not offer all those ecosystem services, nor at the same level that the old growth forests do. And that's it in a nutshell. It has been demonstrated that the Spotted Owl can live in secondary growth forests, but it cannot viably breed in secondary growth forests.

Thus, species such as the Spotted Owl are declared umbrella species to act as a protective umbrella for their respective environments as a way to protect those environments in perpetuity, because once they're all gone, the possibility of regaining all those ecosystem services that those ecosystems provide is pretty much nil.

Biodiversity, it's very definition, implies diversity, which arises from the existence of thousands, tens of thousands of species within any given ecosystem. This then results in the ecosystem being able to provide its services, known collectively as ecosystem services. The goal is to protect biodiversity by protecting ecosystems. A general technique for doing so is to declare a top level species within its respective ecosystem as endangered (because it is endangered or will become extinct if its ecosystem is destroyed) as an umbrella species. The ecosystem is then preserved under the umbrella of the umbrella species. This protects biodiversity.

Myrkul provided an example of relocating the Scimitar Oryx to a Texan hunting preserve as an example of species preservation, but it is not a case of protecting biodiversity.

As long as we don't disrupt natural ecosystems, they will provide everything listed below:

- Freshwater supply and flood control
- Generation and maintenance of soils
- Ocean flood protection
- Natural pest control
- Amelioration of the weather
- The cycling of nutrients
- Pollination of plants

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, published in 2005, breaks it down like this:

Supporting Services:

- Nutrient cycling
- Soil formation
- Primary production
- Preservation of genetic resources

Regulating services:

- Climate amelioration
- Flood control
- Agricultural pest control
- Water purification

Provisioning services:

- Food
- Timber and fiber
- Fresh water
- Fuel

Cultural services:

- Esthetic
- Spiritual
- Educational
- Recreational

Other disruptive effects to the ecosystem services enumerated above include harvesting resources (collateral damage), toxic waste, atmospheric pollution, garbage waste, over harvesting (fish), pesticides, noise, etc.

What disrupts the above?

Reduction in the number of top level predators. Top level predators, such as raptors, wolves, cats, etc. regulate the ecosystem by preventing overgrazing of vegetation, which plays a role in providing habitat to the smaller organisms, all the way down to the microscopic level, which in turn plays a role in nutrient cycling, water purification, soil formation, etc. In other words, top level predators ultimately affect the health of the entire ecosystem. This process, where top level species affect the environment as a cascading effect are known collectively as trophic cascades.

As an example, let's examine the case of wolves. Numerous species of wolves were eradicated in the twentieth century (by cattle ranchers, incidentally). As it turns out, it was determined that they played a role within the dynamics of the ecosystems. Their elimination resulted in a deleterious effect on the ecosystem services, due to the removal of a trophic cascade effect.

When in the presence of wolves, ungulates generally do not browse in riparian zones. Riparian zones are the areas of rich vegetation along the banks of streams, creeks and rivers. The reason ungulates do not browse in such areas when wolves are present is because their escape route is hindered by the slopes of the river bank, the body of water itself, and the denser vegetation. When wolves are removed, ungulates in general decimate the vegetation in these riparian zones, which in turn results in habitat loss for numerous species, typically beginning with rodents, and cascading all the way down to the microscopic level, where numerous species exist within the soil. This loss of habitat within the riparian zones results in a huge loss of ecosystem services, including nutrient cycling, soil formation, flood control and water purification

Edge effects are another disrupting process to ecosystems and the ecosystem services they provide. Typically, property ownership is the cause. The fracturing of an ecosystem disrupts its viability, by inhibiting migration, reducing territorial area needed by top level predators (see above), and this ultimately reduces biodiversity, which reduces genetic information, a resource required for medicine, material science, engineering, computer science, etc.

Edge effects are a direct result of ecosystem fracturing, which will be defined and discussed. There is a whole cascade of effects and interrelated issues that apply here. They are:

- The importance of wildlife corridors
- The dangers of ignorance
- Exploitation via corporations
- Lack of regulation
- Solutions via private enterprise
- Habitat loss
- Information loss
- Bioproductivity loss
- Natural capital
- Water quality
- Trophic cascades
- Policies

The list goes on. And on.

The whole substrate upon which humanity, society, and life depend on begin in the soil and water (essentially our planet), as nourished by the incoming sunlight from above.

Here's a thought for you: the very complex systems which naturally occur within the soil and above the soil define everything we have to support ourselves and they define everything we have available to educate ourselves (outside cosmology and related fields). There is more going on here than you think. Humanity thus far has been built from those systems, but humanity itself is also depleting, fracturing (and thus destroying) the very systems which allowed it to come this far.

Edge effects: What are they? Imagine a parcel of land that is fairly large and of a particular shape, mostly undisturbed. Let's say it's unspoiled rainforest. We'll begin with a circle 100 miles in diameter.

The circle: A circle 100 miles in diameter has an edge that is 314 miles long. It's area is a little more than 7,500 miles. The ratio of area/edge is 7,500/314 which equals about 24.

The fractal shape: A fractal shape with an area of 7,500 miles but with a ragged edge that is 1,000 miles long has a ratio of area/edge of 7,500/1,000 which equals 7.5.

Among the two shapes described above, each say being a rainforest ecosystem, the circle will generally be healthier and more viable. What does this mean? The circle, will in general, be richer in all of the following:

- Number of species
- Lower extinction rate
- More nutrients within the soil
- Lesser vulnerability to drought, heat, cold, etc.
- More information, complexity and potential knowledge to be discovered within
- Greater productivity within: (i.e ability to nourish, support and grow)
- Ability to support larger fauna

A circle was used above as an example. One could just as easily substitute a square instead and get similar results. Therefore, consider a square 100 miles on a side. It has a ratio of area/edge of 10,000/400 which equals 25.

Assuming that square contains rainforest (but it could just as easily be another type of ecosystem), let's now fracture it. We'll turn it into a checkerboard of 64 black and white squares. Black are rainforest squares. White are squares burned to remove the trees, and then tilled for agriculture.

Our total area of rainforest within the checkerboard is now half what it was. The original square contained 10,000 square miles of rainforest. It now contains 5,000 square miles of rainforest. But look at the change in rainforest edges. The original square had only 400 miles of rainforest edge. The checkerboard has 1,600 miles of rainforest edge.

And so we can get a sense of the difference between these two extents of land. Recall that the unspoiled square had 10,000 square miles of rainforest and total edges measuring 400 miles with a ratio of 25. Look at the ratio of the fractured checkerboard to get a sense of how less rich its potential is. It's ratio is 5,000/1,600 which equals 3.125.

Compare the two numbers: 25 vs. 3.125.

What are some cases which cause edge effects?

Repurposing of land: Examples include agriculture, urban and suburban sprawl, etc.

Clearcutting: Clearcutting by the timber industry creates edge effects. Make no mistake about it - the ecosystem has been changed, and replanting of trees will not revert the area back to the original ecosystem in a period equal to the time it takes for the newly planted trees to mature. The original forest was an old growth forest, and when the newly planted trees finally mature, the resulting forest will be a secondary growth forest, which does not provide the same environment as the original old growth forest.

Roads: Going back to the circle example, if a road is placed through the center, then an edge effect is created. Depending on the type of road and how busy it is, the effect is dramatic. Essentially, you end up with two areas, each half the area of the original circle, and each area having an edge length not much less than the original circle. This is one of the reasons (among many) why there is such opposition to the idea of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It's not just the idea of potential damage from oil spills (which is real), but the road systems which would need to be built to access the enterprise.

Fences: Land left in its natural state, but fenced, also creates an edge effect. A very damaging example would be the fence proposed along the U.S./Mexico border by certain politicians.

That's a start. Let me know when you want more, as there is plenty more...
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August 02, 2012, 08:39:01 PM
 #51

Impressive post, FA. c/p that here: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=92952.0 and we may actually be getting somewhere.

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August 03, 2012, 09:30:42 PM
 #52

That was longer than expected. And I think in presenting all that, you've brought up another issue (not really related to ecology even) that makes this whole thing even messier.

I'll be fair and give your post a full reading, even though my response won't touch on most of it. I'll post the response in due time.

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August 05, 2012, 05:23:04 PM
 #53

That was longer than expected. And I think in presenting all that, you've brought up another issue (not really related to ecology even) that makes this whole thing even messier.

I'll be fair and give your post a full reading, even though my response won't touch on most of it. I'll post the response in due time.

If you wish to continue this conversation, either here or elsewhere, please let me know. If you felt that you learned some things here, isn't that a good thing? Everything I posted in my last post can be augmented by explaining the scientific methods used, examples, further exploration of any of the subject matter, examples of success stories where the knowledge was applied to create successful outcomes, etc.
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