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posted by martyb on Tuesday January 11, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the Betteridge-says-"No" dept.

Can We Feed Billions of Ourselves Without Wrecking the Planet?

We are now producing more food more efficiently than ever, and there is plenty to go around for a human population of 7 billion. But it is coming at a drastic cost in environmental degradation, and the bounty is not reaching many people.

Sustainable Food Production, a new Earth Institute primer from Columbia University Press, explores how modern agriculture can be made more environmentally benign, and economically just. With population going to maybe 10 billion within 30 years, the time to start is now, the authors say.

The lead author is ecologist Shahid Naeem, director of the Earth Institute for Environmental Sustainability. He coauthored the book with former Columbia colleagues Suzanne Lipton and Tiff van Huysen.

This is an interesting interview with the author. Do you agree (or disagree) with his conclusions?

Columbia Climate School

[Also Covered By]: Phys.org


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  • (Score: 2, Troll) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday January 11, @05:41PM (8 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @05:41PM (#1211827) Homepage Journal

    Of course we can feed a lot more people. But, at what cost? Defoliating the rest of the earth? Exterminating what remains of the wildflife? And, it doesn't end with just feeding. You can be fed at a subsistence level, but you would think that your life is really crap. No, you want to be fed, you want to be entertained, you want possessions, like your own home, a car, a computer, heat and air conditioning.

    Someone, was it Gates, said something to the effect that if all of Africa lived like us in the first world, the earth would burn up. We, Americans especially, waste a lot of energy. If/when all the rest of the world catches up to us, demanding our level of comfort, we're going to need a helluva lot more energy.

    Yeah, we can feed 'em, but can we actually all live together, and get along, without destroying nature? I don't think so. Population control needs to be a thing.

    Just don't ask me about fair and equitable ways of enforcing population control. I know that my own government doesn't have a very good track record with it. Forced sterilizations among the darker skinned populations is NOT the way to go. Unless - maybe - possibly the dark skinned people enforce it upon themselves. THAT wouldn't be racist, would it?

    --
    “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” ― George S. Patton on Ukraine
    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:26PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:26PM (#1211847)

      Forced sterilizations among the darker skinned populations is NOT the way to go. Unless - maybe - possibly the dark skinned people enforce it upon themselves. THAT wouldn't be racist, would it?

      Hahaha and you wonder why leople call you racist? So obviously you know yoy are and just don't want to face the repercussions for being a shitty person.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:05PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:05PM (#1211918)

        Standard response from a retarded leftist/marxist/dumbocrat. Wake up and see your own racism.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @01:34AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @01:34AM (#1211986)

          Die in a fire nazi, knowing your types you'll trip into the oven when trying to load all those murdered bodies. Poor innocents, forced to be within 20 ft of you.

    • (Score: 2) by Michael on Tuesday January 11, @06:52PM (3 children)

      by Michael (7157) on Tuesday January 11, @06:52PM (#1211856)

      You don't mention money or societal change among your speculated costs. Is your basic assumption that only possibilities which don't disrupt economics and politics are in the running? Is it preference or prediction?

      There are an enormous amount of physical resources being outright wasted to avoid wasting symbolic resources. When looking for something to change, I suggest it should be things we've made up in our imaginations rather than the laws of physics. Reality should take precedence over public relations.You mentioned air conditioning as an example of why black countries want to be like you, but you didn't mention insulation, home layout, ventilation heat exchangers, efficiency regulations, advertising standards, subsidies etc.

      Which part do you think the third world are most keen to emulate, the physical consequences of a first world lifestyle on their health and comfort, or how much of their allocation they end up wasting to line a ceo's pockets or prop up declining industries?

      Products are available right now which make many of the major energy consumers much more physically efficient (for either the same or a modestly increased cost) compared to the brute force and ignorance approach.

      • (Score: 2) by Michael on Tuesday January 11, @06:57PM

        by Michael (7157) on Tuesday January 11, @06:57PM (#1211857)

        are enormous amounts / is an enormous amount. Should have picked just one.

      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday January 11, @09:19PM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11, @09:19PM (#1211923) Homepage Journal

        I didn't mention money because all we have is meaningless fiat money. Real things like the nature outside my door can't be assigned a monetary value. "The economy" means little to nothing when clean water in the rivers is gone, and there are no more bunnies, no more deer, no more birds in the yard. Real costs - we've pretty seriously fucked up huge swaths of the world feeding the billions we have already. What are the real costs of producing a few more billions?

        The rest of your post is on point, and reasonable. But, surely you know that people aren't reasonable. Right here in the US, people are still lining up to buy McMansions, shoddily built of cheap material, and piss poor thermal efficiency. Maybe we're slowly improving. Maybe. Mostly, I see the same old shoddy construction that American have grown used to.

        So, introduce enough wealth into the poorest of African countries that half or more of the population can afford the stupid McMansions, what do you think they'll buy? You really think they'll hold out for real quality, real thermal efficiency, real durability? Nahhh, I don't think so. They're people after all, and hardly any different that the average dumb American who falls for marketing hype.

        Given equal wealth, I think they'll prove to be just like us, squandering that wealth on useless shiny disposable crap.

        --
        “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” ― George S. Patton on Ukraine
        • (Score: 2) by Michael on Wednesday January 12, @08:57AM

          by Michael (7157) on Wednesday January 12, @08:57AM (#1212055)

          The shoddy nonsense popular in the usa is cultural. It seems narrow minded to assume that third worlders with access to first world options would automatically become as dumb as many Americans. Who is to say they won't become as parsimonious as many Swedes? (Apart from, say, anthropologists in 1890.) Taking the most extreme example of how far you can propagandise a population into an obsession with expressing status through wastefulness as the baseline seems like a mistake.

          And lets say 'giving them wealth' was literally that - rather than the systemic changes to international finance and foreign relations it would probably be achieved by - there's no reason that wealth has to be currency. It might just as well be materiel and training to start up a factory making foamed glass insulation bricks or heat pumps.

          Human beings, as you alluded to, do share common drives. What they don't all share is common expressions of those drives, and even when they do it is amenable to change (or decays away on its own if only you stop putting immense effort indoctrinating everyone to conform). Humans want whatever gives them physical safety and comfort, social status, emotional freedom etc. That can look a lot of different ways, and doesn't have to be a carbon copy of the fictionalised golden days of any specific culture.

          If having the highest energy efficiency on the block is seen as the thing to squabble over, instead of the car with the highest BHP or lawn with the neatest monoculture, that's what a society will automatically organise to pursue. It can't not, because that's what it fundamentally is. It may be quite true that anyone lifted from grinding poverty would immediately resort to pointless greed and gloating. Probably not to the extent you seem to think, but lets say they come from a culture where that's seen as acceptable without having to propagandise it into them.

          People are capable of making anything into an excuse for that sort of behaviour. Look at specialised subcultures from your own country if you're not familiar with foreign places. Compare the affect, tone and whatever emotional state proxies you favour between a drag racer and an eco-nut when lording their one over the other people who are nuts about that thing. As examples of primate social behaviour they're near indistinguishable, just different styles of the same thing.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Tuesday January 11, @07:46PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday January 11, @07:46PM (#1211875)

      Just don't ask me about fair and equitable ways of enforcing population control.

      See, we actually don't need to do that: There's not much need for draconian 1-child policies, definitely no forced sterilizations, or anything like that.

      All available statistical evidence suggests that these do the job pretty darn well:
      1. Make child labor illegal, and actually enforce those laws.
      2. Make sure all children have comprehensive sex education, so they know all about the birds and the bees and how babies happen by the time they've reached puberty.
      3. Give out free and discreet birth control to anybody who wants it. Make abortion legal and also discreetly available to anybody who wants it.
      Useful added bonuses include enough gender equality that women have jobs they want to focus on, and shunning religious doctrines that heap praise on people for having lots of children.

      The reason this works is that kids are expensive, risky to the parents' health, and a general pain in the ass, and while there are some people that really enjoy parenting there are an awful lot of people who really rather wouldn't go through all that. So you make it as easy as possible to not have kids, and enough people will choose that route to reverse the population growth or at least flatten that curve a lot.

      --
      Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:46PM (21 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @05:46PM (#1211830)

    We just have to prevent the population explosion of an estimated 2-3 Billion people that will take place in Africa this century. In fact it's actually already taking place, as in just a few decades Africa went from 200M to over 1Billion. This, in a continent that is quite arid in most places.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:13PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:13PM (#1211842)
      So the problem will solve itself as famine, war, and pestilence make them die off. So remind me how that's my fault or my responsibility?
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:28PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:28PM (#1211849)

        It isn't, but do your part as a responsible citizen and stop taking up planetary resources.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:49PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:49PM (#1211915)

          Another AC: I am not a member of some "one world govt", so the concept of taking "more than my share" of the world's resources does not apply to me. Go pound sand.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Tuesday January 11, @06:47PM (17 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Tuesday January 11, @06:47PM (#1211854) Journal

      Instead of doing that, we could come up with more efficient ways of producing edibles. Which we could then use to feed ourselves and everyone else. There are solutions, generally, they cost a bunch of money and would need a bunch of someones in charge that want to see the end goal. Not rake giant piles of money into their own pockets.

      --
      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 11, @08:19PM (16 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 11, @08:19PM (#1211894)

        We've been coming up with more efficient ways of producing edibles for centuries.

        We need to come up with more efficient ways of distributing edibles, not wasting what we produce, not producing what we don't need, not producing edibles on one continent and shipping them to another because "it's profitable" with the current cost of fuel.

        --
        Україна не входить до складу Росії.
        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday January 11, @09:33PM (14 children)

          by Freeman (732) on Tuesday January 11, @09:33PM (#1211928) Journal

          It's going to be much easier / efficient to produce Coconut in the tropics, than to produce Coconut in Canada. Some things make sense to produce in one area of the world and ship-to other areas of the world.

          While waste is good to try and prevent, it's also why the global chip shortage is a thing. Just In Time manufacturing works, when it works. I'd rather have a bit of excess food or even a lot of excess food produced and wasted, than to be stuck on a JIT kind of crazy scheme. Perhaps the biggest problem in overcoming starvation on a global scale, is distribution. Getting the food into the hands of those that need it most. As opposed to into the hands of X group that's in power.

          --
          Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 12, @02:56AM (13 children)

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 12, @02:56AM (#1212007)

            I seem to recall a lot of guff about wheat shipments here and there back in the 1970s. Wheat, meat, etc. is a lot more significant than the more visible things like coconut and bananas.

            Also: do Canadians really need to eat so many bananas? Do Costa Ricans really need Maple Syrup?

            --
            Україна не входить до складу Росії.
            • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @03:24AM (12 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @03:24AM (#1212015) Journal
              "Need" is a useless way to look at things because everyone's idea of need is different. For most of the world, you, me, Canada, and Costa Rica don't need to exist. If we're basing things strictly on need, well sucks to be the people not making the decisions on need.

              The better approach is want. And well, Canada wants some bananas and Costa Rica wants some maple syrup. So that box is checked, as far as I'm concerned.
              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 12, @02:57PM (11 children)

                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 12, @02:57PM (#1212108)

                Canada wants some bananas and Costa Rica wants some maple syrup. So that box is checked, as far as I'm concerned.

                As far as I'm concerned, we're borrowing from the future with every ton of CO2 we are emitting today. Until the cost of a banana in a Canadian grocery store reflects the net global impact of what it took to get that banana there, I say that Canadian banana eaters are drowning the homes of helpless children in Bangladesh - among thousands of other highly populated low lying places around the globe. Costa Rican maple syrup consumption isn't quite as impactful, but the same "discounts" on global shipping are still being applied, unfairly for all those who are already and will soon be impacted by them.

                --
                Україна не входить до складу Росії.
                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @03:28PM (8 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @03:28PM (#1212124) Journal

                  As far as I'm concerned, we're borrowing from the future with every ton of CO2 we are emitting today.

                  A lot more than that was borrowed when we created almost 8 billion people, mostly poor and higher than replacement rate fertility, and the infrastructure to support them. Sorry, I don't buy that the optimal way from under that obligation is to look at CO2 emissions.

                  Until the cost of a banana in a Canadian grocery store reflects the net global impact of what it took to get that banana there

                  Sounds like it does to me. If we're going to play that game you have to weigh the global impact of that emitted CO2 against the global impact of better off Canadians and Costa Ricans.

                  I say that Canadian banana eaters are drowning the homes of helpless children in Bangladesh - among thousands of other highly populated low lying places around the globe.

                  You have evidence that climate change is more relevant to that than poor disaster preparation? My bet is you can get one to two orders of magnitude improvement in that metric just by instituting proper disaster response systems in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

                  This is classic climate change myopia. The effects of small emissions of greenhouse gases are exaggerated while the benefits of the human activity that was derived from that are heavily discounted. You're just paying attention to one side of the balance sheet.

                  Here's my take. The developed world is the best game in town. They figured out all the big problems, including overpopulation. I think we're in a unique opportunity to turn the entire world into developed world territory with uniform negative population growth. Sure, that means somewhat higher pollution and resource consumption in the short term. But until you tame population growth, any solutions you find are just one global disaster away from huge human die-offs with serious environmental impact.

                  For me, climate change just doesn't rate as a serious problem. I'm not even going to consider it as such until we're seeing significant adjustments needing to be made per decade rather than per few centuries.

                  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 12, @08:56PM (7 children)

                    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 12, @08:56PM (#1212205)

                    CO2 emissions is just the big one that has been semi-quantified. What it's really representing is externalized costs. Like a factory that gets built beside a river, discharges waste and kills all the fish - all the while being given tax breaks by the locals government officials so they can get their slice of the pie. Lots of externalized costs are willfully ignored, and some were genuinely unknown at the time the business was planned. Both should be factored into the cost of operations, and if that makes a business unprofitable- then it shouldn't be run, because in the bigger picture it is unsustainable, even if it will turn in big quarterly bonuses for a year or 30.

                    --
                    Україна не входить до складу Росії.
                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 13, @03:16AM (6 children)

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @03:16AM (#1212303) Journal

                      CO2 emissions is just the big one that has been semi-quantified. What it's really representing is externalized costs.

                      Lose the big one and you've lost the argument. The rest of those externalities can be mitigated at the source. And the US has done a good job of reducing those externalities.

                      Both should be factored into the cost of operations, and if that makes a business unprofitable- then it shouldn't be run, because in the bigger picture it is unsustainable, even if it will turn in big quarterly bonuses for a year or 30.

                      Unless, of course, it is the externality that should be disregarded. Just because you think an externality is a big deal, doesn't mean the rest of us should.

                      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @02:25PM (5 children)

                        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @02:25PM (#1212409)

                        the US has done a good job of reducing those externalities.

                        Last I checked, every river and stream in the greater Houston area (and much of the Texas coast from Galveston into Louisiana) has a fish eating ban due to mercury toxicity. Birds and other predators of course don't respect the ban, so they get mercury poisoning - it has been going on so long that the top level predators aren't dying of it anymore, they're mostly already dead in those areas.

                        --
                        Україна не входить до складу Росії.
                        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14, @04:59AM (4 children)

                          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @04:59AM (#1212610) Journal
                          Last you checked... is mercury released over the past century somehow nicer than mercury released now? I'll just note that it takes a long time for environmentally mobile mercury to get locked up. In the meantime, it's going to kill birds for a long time to come.
                          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14, @02:29PM (3 children)

                            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @02:29PM (#1212667)

                            Until population gets too big, the solution to pollution really is dilution. The bottom of the Miami river is not being dredged and is only open to shallow draft ships because of all the toxic waste locked up under the silt. The reason mercury is circulating in the environment is because we dug it up and released it. It does re-bury itself, slowly. Our switch from coal to natural gas has dramatically reduced mercury emissions, but we're still far from "doing a great job" about taking care of the environment. 2006 Houston was blanketing the town in soot and all kinds of crap from the fuel refinery that got on-shored after the offshore platforms got wiped by Katrina/Rita. All that crap was being dumped in the Gulf when the offshore refineries were running. It's well known among local anglers that snapper and other species of desirable food fish gather at the drill sites, but when you catch them there you can literally taste the crude oil in the meat.

                            --
                            Україна не входить до складу Росії.
                            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 15, @01:30PM (2 children)

                              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 15, @01:30PM (#1212904) Journal

                              Our switch from coal to natural gas has dramatically reduced mercury emissions, but we're still far from "doing a great job" about taking care of the environment.

                              Ok, you just complained about mercury as an example of how the US wasn't doing a great job about taking care of the environment and now, we see it wasn't a good example.

                              2006 Houston was blanketing the town in soot and all kinds of crap from the fuel refinery that got on-shored after the offshore platforms got wiped by Katrina/Rita.

                              How often do emergencies like Katrina and Rita happen to the oil industry? Sorry, just because an emergency happened doesn't mean that the US isn't taking care of its environment.

                              It's well known among local anglers that snapper and other species of desirable food fish gather at the drill sites, but when you catch them there you can literally taste the crude oil in the meat.

                              Maybe shouldn't do that then.

                              • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday January 16, @05:59PM (1 child)

                                by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday January 16, @05:59PM (#1213176)

                                the US wasn't doing a great job about taking care of the environment and now, we see it wasn't a good example.

                                Depends on your definition of "great job" better than flaming rivers and 100% of lakes 100% dead from acid rain, yeah, we're beating that standard - now.

                                --
                                Україна не входить до складу Росії.
                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @04:27PM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @04:27PM (#1212151) Journal
                  I find it bizarre how you transitioned from the concern of your earlier post "We need to come up with more efficient ways of distributing edibles" to the present complaints about Canadians not needing bananas and the global impact of climate change. My take is that we need that distribution of edibles, we don't need to perfectly freeze climate change.

                  There are other things missing from your considerations. Even if Canadians don't need bananas and Costa Ricans don't need maple syrup, they do need food. So these wants, you described, displace needs. Second, people really do need a varied diet even if they don't need these particular things - it remains far easier to deliver a varied diet by shipping it from overseas with different growing seasons than to grow everything locally. Third, the inefficiencies in the edibles supply chain aren't the shipping to and from Canada. That's really efficient.

                  Fourth, you're proposing various ideas that would lower the efficiency of international transport of food. If we don't ship food that is merely wanted instead of needed, for example, then we greatly increase the cost of the needed food since the cost of edible-specialized transportation systems are distributed over far less goods than before. If we surcharge for some imaginary high cost of CO2 emissions, we also lower the efficiency of transportation systems that depend on fossil fuel burning.

                  This thread is the usual weird stuff, Joe. You said something was important earlier on. But now you're throwing that away for something else more nebulous. And we have yet to see a problem in the things you're complaining about. So what if Canadians and Costa Ricans get exotic food for a small amount of CO2 emissions? Stopping that won't make distributing edibles more efficient and have no detectable effect on greenhouse gases emissions.
                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @01:50AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @01:50AM (#1213052)

                  Offtopic, but I read your linked Galt story.

                  Are you proposing this as sanity, or a sort of cautionary tale about incoherence? Because it's like watching one side of an argument between a pair of lunatics. What the hell is the point?

        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:51PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @09:51PM (#1211936)

          Growing food in the most productive area for it and shipping it (as in literal ships) to where it is needed has been going on for thousands of years.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Barenflimski on Tuesday January 11, @05:55PM (1 child)

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday January 11, @05:55PM (#1211834)

    I love these articles. They're always full of so many assumptions. The people that write these articles love to put things into pretty little boxes that "make sense." And in their perfect worlds where these articles are written, I'm sure it all does make sense. My point is that for most places I've visited outside of the "western world", these things are all just dreams that have a close to zero chance of being implemented locally.

    They assume that people have any view outside of their local system.
    They assume that the governments and people of the world are connected.

    When you travel around the world, you quickly see, that outside a few western countries, government is hardly a thing. Having an organization to depend on is something most people (billions) have never and will never experience. I'm not convinced that air dropping food to sustain populations that don't have a way to produce their own, is a healthy or good way to deal with the situations.

    The reality on planet earth is that a large portion of the population still farm and gather food on their own. These are likely the people that will carry on the human race, when the rest of us that depend on them vanish due to starvation.

    From the individual perspective on the ground, it would be nice if we could keep things night and tidy and clean. From the reality of the human race over time on planet earth, we are just another creature that mother nature threw on the face of the earth, that is going to completely change how the planet looked before they discovered 'modern technology.' Think roaches, or rats left to populate until their environment is no longer stable enough to support the current population.

    I'm all for cheery articles and fun forward thinking, but outside of putting the entire world under one umbrella, this is all fantasy outside of a few cases. Regardless, lets do it. I'm sure there is away to make money on this somehow.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @04:31PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @04:31PM (#1212154) Journal

      When you travel around the world, you quickly see, that outside a few western countries, government is hardly a thing.

      There's a lot more western than there used to be.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:12PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @06:12PM (#1211840)

    Any time anybody talks about "justice" and they aren't talking about a criminal case, you know they're spouting garbage.

    When it comes to food, it's always extra fun because the stuff they want to do is obviously and directly counterproductive. Usually a grab bag of :
    More locally grown food (transportation is only about 2% of the cost of food and usually actually increases carbon footprint because transportation is more efficient than growing food where it doesn't want to grow)
    More organic food (organic is basically code for "less efficient")
    No GMOs (ditto)
    Less meat (livestock eat food that humans can't, mostly byproducts or grown on land that isn't suitable for growing human food)

    It's all just a bunch of la-la hippie nonsense designed to force everyone except them to make "sacrifices". Remember, it's not about making things better, it's about making them worse (for everyone else) to show how wonderful you are.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:22PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:22PM (#1211895)

      Pesticides have decimated very necessary ecologies, when someone calls something lala hippy stuff it is rarely a comment worth making. Bio-diversity is important, crops that produce sterile seeds are bad, widespread chemical pollution is bad. It is called science, not lala hippy crap. Your comment about livestock feed shows how little you actually understand the topic which is why you resorted to a lame near political insult. Be best my d00d.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:31PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @03:31PM (#1212125)

        Sure. Pesticides have done a lot of damage. But not doing some kind of serious pest control means no crop to speak of. Bio-diversity is important, sterile crops suck, pollution bad.

        Tadaa, you win! ... against that strawman you just erected.

        The GPP was pointing out that the prescriptions described in the actual article are largely counterproductive, often badly so. The article was all noisy about sustainability but proposed exactly, precisely no substitute for fossil fuel sources for NPK fertilisers to maintain anything resembling current productivity.

        If you can't even meet that standard of demonstration, you're firmly in the realm of hippy crap, not serious crop science.

        There's plenty more wrong there, but a lack of strawmen wasn't it.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @04:35PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @04:35PM (#1212155) Journal

          but a lack of strawmen wasn't it

          But what will my straw cows eat?

  • (Score: 2, Disagree) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @07:01PM (67 children)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @07:01PM (#1211860) Journal

    There's lots of empty land and plenty of water. The engineering is trivial. Our only issue is corruption

    --
    Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday January 11, @07:11PM (2 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Tuesday January 11, @07:11PM (#1211862) Journal

      Well, money, the will to do something about it, and a lack of corruption, so the project can succeed. It's somewhat solvable, but there has to be enough investment in the idea as well as money. Who will it benefit, will it be used as a tool of manipulation, and how will you get the goods (food) to those that need it (starving people), instead of the hijackers (Warlords/Corrupt Government).

      --
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      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @07:22PM (1 child)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @07:22PM (#1211867) Journal

        The problem arises from active blockades, fences, centrally controlled rationed finance and other necessities. People just have to be allowed to produce what they need, without screwing over their neighbors or fear of attack

        --
        Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:30PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:30PM (#1211904)

          1 cant we all just get along,
          2 profit

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday January 11, @07:53PM (8 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday January 11, @07:53PM (#1211879)

      plenty of water

      Umm, not so fast there. One of the major effects of climate change has been fouling up the fresh-water cycle in major ways in a lot of places. Combine that with plants losing water faster due to the heat, and cheap water pushing farmers to less water-efficient products like almonds and beef and you have a real water problem.

      Desalination might be able to counteract some of those problems, but desalination takes energy, and energy isn't free.

      --
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      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @07:59PM (4 children)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @07:59PM (#1211882) Journal

        and energy isn't free.

        Yes it is. And we can make even more "free" energy. All the engineering problems have been solved. It's all politics now

        --
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        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday January 11, @08:12PM (2 children)

          by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday January 11, @08:12PM (#1211888)

          Yes it is. And we can make even more "free" energy.

          Oh really? How's that perpetual motion machine working for you?

          If you're talking about windmills, solar collection, or nuclear power plants, all of those involve mining materials, refining, manufacturing, several steps of transportation, assembly and installation, and of course ongoing maintenance. Ergo, they aren't "free".

          --
          Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:18PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:18PM (#1211893)

            I think thst is what the quotes were for, aside from Runaway1956 and some other anti-science bums you can safely assume everyone understands TANSTAAFL. Well, not on the universe scale anyway, but one day maybe we can park a solar array to convert energy to matter and get plenty of free-to-us stuff.

          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @08:29PM

            by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @08:29PM (#1211901) Journal

            Well gee, nothing is free but the time given us, meter's running... Consider motivation if nothing else. We are just supposed to do it in the least offensive way, nukes will cover a lot of territory in that department. You build out wind and solar for local needs. Mining can be done with tunnel boring machines, we can do it "arthroscopically", lay some rail in the empty tunnel for cargo transport, or pipe water from east to west through it.

            I can assure you politics is the only obstacle

            --
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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:15PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, @08:15PM (#1211891)

          Hey look, fusty made a useful comment! Not too far off his normal message, but we can see he is a "big picture" kind of guy.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @04:47PM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @04:47PM (#1212158) Journal

        One of the major effects of climate change has been fouling up the fresh-water cycle in major ways in a lot of places.

        Show it, don't just feel it. My take is that virtually all of that can be explained in other ways such as observation/confirmation bias and poor water management.

        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday January 12, @05:48PM (1 child)

          by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday January 12, @05:48PM (#1212174)

          No matter the specific cause of the problems, the belief that fresh water isn't a valuable and important resource to be managed somehow is very flawed.

          --
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          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @06:06PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @06:06PM (#1212177) Journal
            fusty is post-scarcity ideology. I guess if we got rid of the banks, then everything would be too cheap to meter.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 11, @08:22PM (54 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 11, @08:22PM (#1211896)

      Corruption isn't the only issue.

      Sure, there's lots of land, and even fresh water, still untapped. Problem is: most of it is crappy land, not very useful water (overabundant in some places, too thin in others.)

      He's dead now, but he wasn't wrong: https://www.half-earthproject.org/ [half-earthproject.org]

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      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Tuesday January 11, @09:59PM (53 children)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday January 11, @09:59PM (#1211939) Journal

        not very useful water (overabundant in some places, too thin in others.)

        Well, if we can pipe oil across Alaska, we can pipe water across the Rockies. Mr. Musk's machine should be hard at work already. More energy is spent on making excuses than it would take to just do it

        --
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        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 12, @02:59AM (51 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 12, @02:59AM (#1212009)

          Pipelines leak, and massive redistributions of fresh water generally massively screw up the environment on both ends of the distribution.

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          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Wednesday January 12, @03:56AM (50 children)

            by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday January 12, @03:56AM (#1212021) Journal

            Yeah, fresh water leaks would be devastating

            --
            Ok, we paid the ransom. Do I get my dog back? REDЯUM
            • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @12:05PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 12, @12:05PM (#1212077)

              We could use concentric pipes, put the water in the central one and crude oil in the outer one. That way if there is an inner pipe leak, the water can be easily contained in the oil (from which it is easily removed), and if there is an outer pipe leak at least it isn't that nasty water getting into the environment.

            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 12, @03:01PM (48 children)

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 12, @03:01PM (#1212110)

              The Myakka River basin is regularly flooded by agricultural runoff. The "swamps" around the river used to be seasonal with several dry months a year. The centuries old trees of the swamps, and the whole ecosystem that grew up around them, slowly died out over a couple of decades of constant innundation from the tomato field waste water, not due to pesticides or even fertilizer - which were monitored and controlled, just a slow death by suffocation of the root systems which evolved to have dry seasons that didn't happen for 20 years in a row thanks to "beneficial" runoff of clean water. But, hey, at least we had cheap tomatoes.

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              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 12, @04:53PM (29 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 12, @04:53PM (#1212159) Journal

                But, hey, at least we had cheap tomatoes.

                I sense you're trying to be sarcastic. Amazing how often that fails. A vast amount of efficiently created and distributed food versus a small patch of land that has to adapt to unusual circumstances. At least we got something extraordinarily valuable from that slightly impairment of nature!

                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 12, @08:58PM (28 children)

                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 12, @08:58PM (#1212207)

                  There are lots of ways to grow tomatoes. The biodiversity of that swamp is gone, lost forever in exchange for a couple of decades of low value food that could have been gotten other ways.

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                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 13, @03:17AM (27 children)

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13, @03:17AM (#1212304) Journal

                    The biodiversity of that swamp is gone

                    Much more accurately, the biodiversity of the swamp has changed. And they can keep growing tomatoes for more than a couple of decades.

                    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @02:28PM (26 children)

                      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @02:28PM (#1212411)

                      Much more accurately, the biodiversity of the swamp has changed.

                      Yes, it has. From 274 identified species to 32.

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                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday January 14, @05:32AM (25 children)

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 14, @05:32AM (#1212615) Journal
                        Reading over this thread again, I see so many problems. First, it's not tomato crops, it's flood control. Second, even if we allow for the species count (more on that later), we still have that you haven't counted it more recently and seen the pickup in number of species as the ecosystem adapts to the new normal and species move into the new habitat. After all, it didn't go away, it just changed.

                        Third, I don't buy that the river is somehow only able to support 32 species. My take is that a flooded drainage ditch could do much better than that, much less a 70 mile river with ample neighboring swamps. Florida has a lot of living stuff, and it gets around.

                        This link indicates that 32 bird species [ebird.org] were observed in July of last year in the Myakka River State Park. While that includes potential observations off of the river and swamp, I think it illustrates the fundamental frivolousness of your complaint. That's just bird species seen in a single four hour period (by a lot of bird spotters).

                        And finally, just consider the story itself. The idea is that this Florida river was converted by man from a river that had a rather extreme wet/dry cycle to one where it's almost always flowing. That's it. So while I can see a short term reduction in species present due to the radical changes in water flow, it's still a nice river with a lot of habitat. Life will move back in, assuming it hasn't already (or rather never left in the first place). The above link indicates to me that birds already have, as well as their food sources.

                        Is this really a narrative you want to push? My take is a far better example of the harm of transporting water is Owen's Valley in California. Basically, Los Angeles turned the place into a desert. Even if that situation continued for a thousand years, you won't see a lot of biodiversity.
                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14, @03:07PM

                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @03:07PM (#1212674)

                          The crops are tens of miles away from the swamps they are keeping innundated year round, the well established maximal yield minimal cost tomato growing method is called flood-runoff irrigation, like the trees but on a shorter timescale, the roots of the tomatoes need to alternate between wet and dry. It's the same for almost all crops, particularly the oranges - they use "microdrip" irrigation which flows hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per acre per day from the deep potable water aquifer up into the roots of the trees where it then drains off through the surface sands into the creeks, rivers, and swamps.

                          Before the advent of irrigated agriculture, the swamps dried on an annual cycle with the rains. Now crops are grown during the dry season with deep aquifer pumped water, dozens of farms across tens of thousands of acres. When it was a few cattle ranchers tapping the naturally flowing aquifer to make new springs for the cattle to drink from, the streamflow could handle it without overly wetting the swamps during the dry season, but today it's a completely new hydrodynamic, and that kind of basic resource shift is like pushing the reset button on the ecosystem. We're back from a stable, evolved, diverse community of mutually beneficial species to an invasion of a few pioneer species that can handle the new environment. Give them a few million years and they will evolve to work in the new system, but in the meantime the pioneers are going to be roughing it in a relatively very non-diverse community of species.

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                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14, @03:13PM (22 children)

                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @03:13PM (#1212677)

                          it's still a nice river with a lot of habitat.

                          That's mostly because you never saw it before the change. In the 1800s the river supported many species of fish up to very large (good to eat) sturgeon in the thousands. Today, you're lucky to see one a year.

                          On the riparian land in the 1800s, small to medium sized mammals were abundant enough to support thousands of panther. The deer are coming back, and we can't get rid of the wild boar, but they're hardly anything to be proud of by comparison.

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                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday January 15, @04:58AM (21 children)

                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 15, @04:58AM (#1212863) Journal

                            That's mostly because you never saw it before the change. In the 1800s the river supported many species of fish up to very large (good to eat) sturgeon in the thousands. Today, you're lucky to see one a year.

                            So 2000s tomatoes killed off 19th Century fish diversity? Sounds like we need to rethink what we're blaming here.

                            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday January 16, @05:54PM (20 children)

                              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday January 16, @05:54PM (#1213174)

                              The tomatoes have been killing the swamps since the 1960s, heavily by the 1980s, by 2000 the damage was nearly complete.

                              Fish diversity took a dive with the population boom, overfishing, ag runoff pollution, strip mining of phosphates, you name it, it all had a hand. Biodiversity on the land, in the alternately wet/dry lands, is what was hammered by never letting the land get dry.

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                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday January 16, @06:59PM (19 children)

                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 16, @06:59PM (#1213195) Journal

                                The tomatoes have been killing the swamps since the 1960s, heavily by the 1980s, by 2000 the damage was nearly complete.

                                In other words, most of the damage done by the time environmental regulations kicked in. I also see that we have somewhere around 60 years of tomatoes which is up to three times the duration of tomatoes you claimed [soylentnews.org] we would have for this environmental impairment.

                                Fish diversity took a dive with the population boom, overfishing, ag runoff pollution, strip mining of phosphates, you name it, it all had a hand.

                                Elsewhere you mentioned [soylentnews.org] other environmental problems that are pre-green such as mercury emissions, acid rain, and burning rivers in a discussion of the US's current environmental progress. My take from all this is that it's a classic way that environmental problems get grossly exaggerated and all the blame dumped on modern, developed world people even though they're solving most of those problems (when they are problems, I might add) rather than making them worse!

                                Not much to fixing the world when you don't understand what's broke.

                                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday January 16, @10:49PM (18 children)

                                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday January 16, @10:49PM (#1213268)

                                  most of the damage done by the time environmental regulations kicked in.

                                  Environmental regulations have been "kicking in" since the 1960s, and even before in egregious cases where people couldn't deny direct harm easily witnessable.

                                  I also see that we have somewhere around 60 years of tomatoes which is up to three times the duration of tomatoes

                                  60 years of tomatoes, 600 years of tomatoes, both a relative blink in comparison to the evolution of ecosystems.

                                  pre-green such as mercury emissions,

                                  What's your line for "pre-green"? My parents were eco-weenie science majors in college in the 1960s.

                                  Mysterious mercury emissions were killing alligators in the Everglades in the 1980s, and had been ever since a later acquaintance of mine installed Dutch municipal waste incinerators in Palm Beach County in the late 1970s. Turns out the Dutch are better about not chucking batteries and other toxic waste in their kitchen trash than South Floridians. Greenpeace (active since 1972) managed to elevate that to public attention in the 1990s and get action taken to stop the waste incinerators relatively quickly - then they went right back to excacerbating climate change by crying NUKE NUKE! at every opportunity.

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                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17, @06:26AM (17 children)

                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @06:26AM (#1213340) Journal

                                    Environmental regulations have been "kicking in" since the 1960s

                                    So what? It remains that you're taking a really bad time in US history and claiming it happened recently.

                                    60 years of tomatoes, 600 years of tomatoes, both a relative blink in comparison to the evolution of ecosystems.

                                    Except, of course, that ecosystems don't need 60 years, much less 600 years to evolve.

                                    What's your line for "pre-green"? My parents were eco-weenie science majors in college in the 1960s.

                                    1960s definitely is pre-green. Nor does this need to be a hard line.

                                    Mysterious mercury emissions were killing alligators in the Everglades in the 1980s, and had been ever since a later acquaintance of mine installed Dutch municipal waste incinerators in Palm Beach County in the late 1970s. Turns out the Dutch are better about not chucking batteries and other toxic waste in their kitchen trash than South Floridians.

                                    Sounds like a very relevant anecdote. /sarc Notice two factors: first, that mercury emissions were monitored, and second, tracked to sources. That wouldn't have happened in the 1960s. There's also the possibility that someone added some other mercury waste to those incinerators. It may not be just sloppy south Floridians with batteries.

                                    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 17, @01:52PM (16 children)

                                      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 17, @01:52PM (#1213381)

                                      The Cuyahoga river caught fire at least 13 times before they addressed it, most dramatically in 1969. Acid rain was still a serious problem in the 1980s and didn't get adequately addressed until the shift to natural gas for power generation after the advent of fracking, and what did fracking bring? Most dramatically: flammable residential tapwater, and there are still unaddressed negative effects of fracking today, as much being quieted with buyouts of affected people as measures to stop the negative environmental effects. Again, such wildlife as remains in Texas and other well field areas is underrepresented in the courts.

                                      Evolution of fruit flies can be observed in 6 weeks. Rebuilding of endemic food webs which have suffered mass species extinction takes millions of years. Pioneer species start the process within a season, but that is like a scum of algae replacing a rainforest.

                                      Mercury emissions at the source affecting the everglades were not adequately monitored to prevent catastrophic damage to the top level predators. It was successfully caught and addressed, but there was a decade of predators dying of mercury toxicity, and it was the unusual level of predator deaths that led to testing and investigation, not monitoring, which caught the problem.

                                      We are improving, but your perspective lacks a good baseline. We are still far from good, and such sustainability as we may have achieved continues to exitnct species at catastrophic rates.

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                                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 17, @03:36PM (15 children)

                                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @03:36PM (#1213394) Journal

                                        The Cuyahoga river caught fire at least 13 times before they addressed it, most dramatically in 1969.

                                        Fixed problem number one.

                                        Acid rain was still a serious problem in the 1980s and didn't get adequately addressed until the shift to natural gas for power generation after the advent of fracking, and what did fracking bring?

                                        You just stated that fracking brought end of acid rain. I would note that chemical scrubbers [wikipedia.org] really are the reason that acid rain ended. Fracking however did greatly reduce the consumption of coal.

                                        Most dramatically: flammable residential tapwater, and there are still unaddressed negative effects of fracking today, as much being quieted with buyouts of affected people as measures to stop the negative environmental effects.

                                        Must not have been much in the way of environmental effects, if that worked. Flammable tap water doesn't register with me as a serious environmental problem, even if it's due to fracking.

                                        So here you already mentioned directly or indirectly multiple ways that things got better as I noted.

                                        We are improving, but your perspective lacks a good baseline.

                                        Really, then why is it that you're the one with the trouble distinguishing between baseline and today?

                                        We are still far from good, and such sustainability as we may have achieved continues to exitnct species at catastrophic rates.

                                        Maybe so, but there should be evidence for that, right? What I find in practice is that while there is a considerable amount of local extinction going on, due to some continued habitat destruction (which incidentally does not include the Myakka River), the big extinctions are in the developing world (mostly because that's where the poor people are). No amount of complaining about how the developed world isn't quite perfect is going to change that. As I've noted before, it's time to look at what's working. Those tomatoes are working. A slight impairment to natural ecosystems for many decades of tomatoes and counting.

                                        Going back to the original story, your anecdote about the Myakka River misses the point. The environment changed, it didn't go away. Thus, species can and probably by now have returned to make the place a diverse refuge, just with a somewhat different species mix.

                                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 17, @09:58PM (14 children)

                                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 17, @09:58PM (#1213479)

                                          I have lived too many places where the chemical scrubbers were operated as an optional nice to have instead of a necessary feature of the plant to call them a solution. They make things better when they work, but are far too easy to turn off, and incidentally they cost a lot of money to operate, so excuses to operate without them seem endlessly abundant.

                                          Flammable tap water (from private wells) is a huge deal when it is in your house, and it is less than a tip on an iceberg compared to the list of harmful groundwater contaminations associated with the fracking process.

                                          1950 isn't a good baseline. 1492 might be a reasonable baseline to consider, but even then pre-Columbian residents had extincted a lot of megafauna and scary predators. Ecological damage isn't exclusively a modern thing, we have just accelerated the situation dramatically.

                                          Extinction isn't a slight impairment.

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                                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18, @12:14AM (13 children)

                                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18, @12:14AM (#1213501) Journal

                                            1492 might be a reasonable baseline

                                            No, it wouldn't be a reasonable baseline because it's three centuries before even the creation of the US and hence, absolutely useless as a guide to how the US has improved its environment impact since the 1950s and 60s which are the worst point of US environmental harm.

                                            It's also worth noting that the pre-Columbian residents created a bigger extinction than modern man has (I'm of the school that humans caused these extinctions - just about everywhere they went - rather than just merely being around). Perhaps we ought to think about why a bunch of spear chuckers were able to cause so much damage while modern society hasn't?

                                            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 18, @02:48AM (12 children)

                                              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 18, @02:48AM (#1213520)

                                              National boundaries in time and space may excuse your conscience, but they are entirely irrelevant to damage done to the ecosystems of the world. Saying that we are better than the 1950s is like saying the slave trade of the early 1800s was less brutal than what was practiced in the 1600s.

                                              Pre-Columbians did indeed kill off a lot of large animal species, and that loss is inherited by all who follow. There's no bankruptcy laws wiping the slate clean.

                                              By comparison, modern society is an absolute horror show in terms of species and ecosystem loss. We're on par with a major asteroid strike already.

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                                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18, @05:32AM (11 children)

                                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18, @05:32AM (#1213535) Journal

                                                National boundaries in time and space may excuse your conscience, but they are entirely irrelevant to damage done to the ecosystems of the world.

                                                Your disinterest in time and space indicates my conscience has little to excuse. If you're not interested in who did what when, then that indicates you have a similar disinterest in our attempts to fix the harm we've done.

                                                Saying that we are better than the 1950s is like saying the slave trade of the early 1800s was less brutal than what was practiced in the 1600s.

                                                And that's supposed to be bad why? I think this shows the utter bankruptcy of your argument. We can't magically end environmental harm because we can't magically make almost 8 billion people disappear. The analogy above hides the enormous positive nature of that observation. We are indeed much better off just as 1800s Earth was much better off in terms of slavery. And just as parts of the world led the way in abolition of slavery, so does the developed world lead the way in abolition of unnecessary environmental harm. Hopefully, some day you'll let go of these poisonous narratives and learn who really is making the world better today.

                                                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 18, @11:14AM (10 children)

                                                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 18, @11:14AM (#1213556)

                                                  The point is, at this juncture we are no longer the relatively powerless Pre-Columbians who rightfully feared the large predators for the survival of their own species. We are no longer an insignificant bit player in the planetary ecosystems. But we are mostly still acting like we are, and if that rate of adapting doesn't pick up, it will be more disasterous than it already has been.

                                                  In as much as the US is a world leader, we bear that responsibility for leading the necessary positive changes. While we are changing in the right direction, the magnitude of our change is insufficient, by a wide margin. The carrot of "just be rich like us, prosperity solves everything" is ultimately just as hollow as social solutions based on the "just don't be poor" philosophy.

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                                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 18, @05:29PM (9 children)

                                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 18, @05:29PM (#1213613) Journal

                                                    The point is, at this juncture we are no longer the relatively powerless Pre-Columbians who rightfully feared the large predators for the survival of their own species.

                                                    I quite agree.

                                                    But we are mostly still acting like we are, and if that rate of adapting doesn't pick up, it will be more disasterous than it already has been.

                                                    You've already given many examples of how that isn't true.

                                                    In as much as the US is a world leader, we bear that responsibility for leading the necessary positive changes.

                                                    That box is checked.

                                                    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Tuesday January 18, @06:18PM (8 children)

                                                      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Tuesday January 18, @06:18PM (#1213619)

                                                      if that rate of adapting doesn't pick up, it will be more disastrous than it already has been.

                                                      You've already given many examples of how that isn't true.

                                                      Your naked assertions imply nothing about my agreement or disagreement. Assume when I don't answer your disagreements, I remain unconvinced and stand by my statements.

                                                      In as much as the US is a world leader, we bear that responsibility for leading the necessary positive changes.

                                                      That box is checked.

                                                      The expression: "Checkered past" comes to mind in this situation. Policy waffling, open political hostility to environmental progress and science in general, fig-leaf regulations cast aside when the price is right and openly flaunted for decades. With this kind of leadership it's no wonder that practices like dynamiting fish habitat for a cheap/quick single harvest, and similarly use of habitat destroying poisons (cyanide in particular) to collect ornamental pet fish are still practiced around the world.

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                                                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 19, @02:46AM (7 children)

                                                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @02:46AM (#1213757) Journal

                                                        [JoeMerchant:] if that rate of adapting doesn't pick up, it will be more disastrous than it already has been.

                                                        [khallow:] You've already given many examples of how that isn't true.

                                                        [JoeMerchant:]Your naked assertions imply nothing about my agreement or disagreement. Assume when I don't answer your disagreements, I remain unconvinced and stand by my statements.

                                                        They don't have to. You've granted many such examples whether you intended to or not, or agree or not. Just in this particular thread:

                                                        Our switch from coal to natural gas has dramatically reduced mercury emissions

                                                        While we are changing in the right direction, the magnitude of our change is insufficient

                                                        not due to pesticides or even fertilizer - which were monitored and controlled

                                                        Moving on, we have appeals to the distinct past - because you can't find enough environmental harm in the present to sell us.

                                                        In the 1800s the river supported many species of fish up to very large (good to eat) sturgeon in the thousands. Today, you're lucky to see one a year.

                                                        1950 isn't a good baseline. 1492 might be a reasonable baseline to consider, but even then pre-Columbian residents had extincted a lot of megafauna and scary predators. Ecological damage isn't exclusively a modern thing, we have just accelerated the situation dramatically.

                                                        Not extinction of megafauna though!

                                                        The deer are coming back, and we can't get rid of the wild boar

                                                        Back to acknowledging progress in the backhanded Joe way.

                                                        Saying that we are better than the 1950s is like saying the slave trade of the early 1800s was less brutal than what was practiced in the 1600s.

                                                        Depends on your definition of "great job" better than flaming rivers and 100% of lakes 100% dead from acid rain, yeah, we're beating that standard - now.

                                                        Repeatedly, you've had to acknowledge the great progress the US has made environmentally. Sure, I'm not quoting the many subsequent "buts" where you say. But that's because I think your buts are dishonest.

                                                        My take is that you are heavily invested in ideologies and narratives that force you to treat the developed world as the bad guys, environmentally. This is a lot like the "What did the Romans ever do for us" [youtube.com] Monty Python skit where a rebel Jewish group bellyaches about the Roman oppressors and then comes up with a large list of positive things that the Romans did.

                                                        My take on this is that if you can't see who is doing the right thing here, then you can't have an informed opinion on environmentalist matters.

                                                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 19, @02:55AM (6 children)

                                                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 19, @02:55AM (#1213762)

                                                          you can't find enough environmental harm in the present to sell us.

                                                          https://www.sciencealert.com/new-evidence-confirms-the-sixth-mass-extinction-has-already-begun-scientists-warn [sciencealert.com]

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                                                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 19, @03:35AM (5 children)

                                                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @03:35AM (#1213774) Journal
                                                            First, where is most of the species extinction happening? My bet is the developing world.

                                                            Second, the present bout of extinctions is not being accurately compared to the big five. When all you have is a fossil record, you'll get a much lower extinction count than we have here.

                                                            Finally, a big indicator of mass extinction is twofold: extinction of genus level or higher classification, not just species, and the extinction of large organisms. IF this really is the sixth mass extinction, it started 10k years ago, not 500 years ago.

                                                            Sorry, this is hysterical hyperventilating based on really poor comparisons to true, environmentally dangerous periods of time. The narrative needs work.
                                                            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 19, @04:49PM (4 children)

                                                              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 19, @04:49PM (#1213872)

                                                              First, where is most of the species extinction happening? My bet is the developing world.

                                                              First - what does this do to the argument: "The solution is to promote economic development everywhere."?

                                                              When all you have is a fossil record, you'll get a much lower extinction count than we have here.

                                                              Second - dem scientist types is moar clever then yew giv um credit fer. Ratios are a thing, and they know how to use them. Arguments like: "We'd have lower COVID rates if we did less testing" only work on the weak minded.

                                                              Sorry, this is hysterical hyperventilating

                                                              Sorry, but this isn't a new story, nor is it hysterical, it continues to be re-confirmed by every group who studies the situation with no credible opposition for decades now. A lot like climate change was 20 years ago.

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                                                              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 19, @05:36PM (3 children)

                                                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @05:36PM (#1213881) Journal

                                                                First, where is most of the species extinction happening? My bet is the developing world.

                                                                First - what does this do to the argument: "The solution is to promote economic development everywhere."?

                                                                It strengthens the argument since the developing world would then be transitioning into a part of the developed world with its greater care for the environment - such as much lower pollution, growing land set aside for wilderness and habitat, and all the things that Joe cares about like CO2 emissions or the broad list of stuff mentioned in this discussion.

                                                                Bottom line is that poor people can't afford to care about the environment or the future.

                                                                When all you have is a fossil record, you'll get a much lower extinction count than we have here.

                                                                Second - dem scientist types is moar clever then yew giv um credit fer. Ratios are a thing, and they know how to use them. Arguments like: "We'd have lower COVID rates if we did less testing" only work on the weak minded.

                                                                Ratios only are relevant, if they know what the ratios are and actually use them. Here, I see a huge case of not comparing like to like. You're the first to mention those alleged ratios.

                                                                Sorry, but this isn't a new story, nor is it hysterical, it continues to be re-confirmed by every group who studies the situation with no credible opposition for decades now. A lot like climate change was 20 years ago.

                                                                Well, it's getting opposed now. And yes, it is hysterical - if you look at those past extinctions, they are huge with large percentages of genus level groupings going extinct. Sorry, we don't have anything comparable here.

                                                                The weakest (ignoring that there are probably a bunch of others of more serious nature than today's wave of extinctions) of the five great extinctions, the Triassic-Jurassic [soylentnews.org] extinction event is thought to have killed somewhere in the neighborhood of a third of all species. Even at the worst alleged rate of 13% since 1500 CE, that's another thousand years before the total number of extinctions can match the level of the weakest of the five big extinctions.

                                                                I find it interesting how once again, your only argument is a sad argument from authority. Fallacy once again is your go to argument.

                                                                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday January 19, @06:09PM (2 children)

                                                                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday January 19, @06:09PM (#1213891)

                                                                  transitioning into a part of the developed world with its greater care for the environment

                                                                  Greater care = greater extinction of species? I think you mean greater short term exploitation. Short, in this case, being ~100 years or less.

                                                                  poor people can't afford to care about the environment or the future.

                                                                  Agreed there. UBI would solve that.

                                                                  You're the first to mention those alleged ratios.

                                                                  I'm sure you've read the statistical methods of the underlying research thoroughly. /s Popular press is incapable of expressing anything as sophisticated as a ratio.

                                                                  Well, it's getting opposed now.

                                                                  Not by anyone credible.

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                                                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday January 19, @06:47PM

                                                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday January 19, @06:47PM (#1213900) Journal

                                                                    Greater care = greater extinction of species?

                                                                    You really think I said that? Reread it again.

                                                                    I'm sure you've read the statistical methods of the underlying research thoroughly. /s Popular press is incapable of expressing anything as sophisticated as a ratio.

                                                                    So you haven't actually read the research. Not my problem.

                                                                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 20, @01:31AM

                                                                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 20, @01:31AM (#1214022) Journal
                                                                    More on this:

                                                                    You're the first to mention those alleged ratios.

                                                                    I'm sure you've read the statistical methods of the underlying research thoroughly. /s Popular press is incapable of expressing anything as sophisticated as a ratio.

                                                                    So why quote the popular press rather than the underlying research in the first place? And then foist off the work of showing your correctness onto me when the going got hard?

                                                                    My bet is that the popular press sold a sexy narrative while the underlying research does not. Moving on, I've actually parsed the research and well, it doesn't have that ratio you claimed it would have. For example, the authors of the research just took the background species extinction rate at face value - likely because it showed a background rate two or more orders of magnitude lower than the estimated modern rate.

                                                                    When I read the actual research [wiley.com] on background extinction rates, it's remarkably useless. They don't take into account the narrow habitat range of most species on Earth. Widespread genuses are much more likely to be fossilized than a collection of species on a small island. Similarly, narrow niche species would be far less likely to leave a fossil record and far more likely to go extinct for any reason.

                                                                    Based on these data, typical background loss is 0.01 genera per million genera per year. Molecular phylogenies are available for more taxa and ecosystems, but it is debated whether they can be used to estimate separately speciation and extinction rates. We selected data to address known concerns and used them to determine median extinction estimates from statistical distributions of probable values for terrestrial plants and animals. We then created simulations to explore effects of violating model assumptions. Finally, we compiled estimates of diversification—the difference between speciation and extinction rates for different taxa. Median estimates of extinction rates ranged from 0.023 to 0.135 E/MSY. Simulation results suggested over- and under-estimation of extinction from individual phylogenies partially canceled each other out when large sets of phylogenies were analyzed.

                                                                    Notice the boilerplate. They've got models and simulations galore, but no estimate of the island effect in there at all or any factor between fossil-based estimates of speciation creation and extinction and modern ones. The fundamental problem is that islands (both natural ones and the metaphorical ones of niche ecological zones on the continents) have exaggerated species creation and extinction rates - almost none of which will show up in fossil records.

                                                                    In your article, the island effect is exaggerated for effect.

                                                                    Most estimates of extinction rates, including ours (Régnier et al., 2009, 2015a, 2015b; Chiba & Cowie, 2016; Cowie et al., 2017), indicate that island species have suffered far greater rates than have continental species, a fact that is widely acknowledged (Manne, Brooks & Pimm, 1999; Stork, 2010; Triantis et al., 2010). However, Briggs (2017) discounted this as not representative of a Sixth Mass Extinction, focusing on continental faunas with much lower extinction rates. But ignoring island species downplays the seriousness of these losses, with figures such as 2,000 bird species extinctions on Pacific islands after human colonisation beginning just a few thousand years ago (Steadman, 1995), that is, the loss of almost one sixth of the current worldwide bird fauna. While it has generally been thought that the vast jungles of the Amazon Basin and Central Africa may not be populated by extremely narrow endemic species, at least not on the scale of island endemics inhabiting only a few square kilometres, there are nonetheless many habitat islands within continental regions that do indeed support relatively narrow endemics that are just as threatened as those of oceanic islands (Manne et al., 1999).

                                                                    Golly, 2000 bird species gone extinct! Almost one six of the current worldwide fauna! Sounds like a lot, until you realize it's bird species that have almost no habitat and hence, little impact environmentally and would be on the razor's edge anyway. Even primitive humans can easily drive extinct birds in that situation. As can volcanic eruptions, well-placed hurricanes at the wrong time, unusually large tsunami, wildfires (for continental niches) and other perfect storm disasters.

                                                                    My take is that this research exaggerates the extinction rate by playing the sort of games I've noted before. Such as comparing geological continental rates of species extinction to modern island extinction rates. Or ignoring the spottiness of fossil records of extinctions, assuming all extinction rates must be lower because the ones you can see are lower.

                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14, @04:08PM

                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @04:08PM (#1212686)

                          Is this really a narrative you want to push? My take is a far better example of the harm of transporting water is Owen's Valley in California.

                          Yes. All the stories need to be told, and this is one I have actual firsthand experience in. When we bought our land on the Peace River, first day after closing we just laid down under the trees after lunch and rested. We had been on the land 100 times before, but never really stopped and just rested there. Something was making a big racket in the leaves just behind us, it wouldn't stop so eventually I went to see what it was and it turned out to be a little funny colored skink. I took a picture and looked him up on the internet later. Turns out his coloration nailed him down as a very specific species of skink with a known range that stopped about 100 miles north of where we observed him back in the woods. It's not surprising that a lizard is found outside its known range in Florida, but it does tell you something about the state of "science" and the description of the species. All it took to observe him was sitting quietly in the woods for 15 minutes, but I'd bet that no scientist had done that in that area in a long long time.

                          If I wanted to tell a story of a massive hydrological fuckup, I don't have to leave Florida. Just lookup the Everglades Restoration Project, it's a slow motion train wreck 100+ years in the making, and they still aren't on a good course for making things even close to right. Just because the Myakka river basin is less than 5% the size of the Everglades doesn't make it less important. If anything, it needs more attention because it is representative of hundreds of similar situations scattered around the SouthEast US which all are basically ignored and unaddressed because they're "insignificant" compared to the poster-children ecological screwups.

                          Basically, Los Angeles turned the place into a desert. Even if that situation continued for a thousand years, you won't see a lot of biodiversity.

                          Desert has its own biodiversity, and being different from the environments we normally inhabit that diversity is, if anything, more important than making more habitat for golden retrievers and Holstein milk cows. I'm sure the people who lived in Owen's valley before the change could list a huge inventory of the value that was lost, and if my Grandfather's conspiracy theory that fusion power has been "in reach" since the 1960s but funding for its development has been suppressed by petro-energy concerns, then it is a true tragedy that Los Angeles was built on the desertfication of Owen's valley and so many other places like it, instead of being hydrated by fusion powered desalination plants.

                          One of the biggest problems about man-made shifts in hydrology and similar bio-resources is that we are fleeting little flits in the bigger picture of evolutionary time. We may well start supplying Los Angeles' water from desalination by the 2050s, so then the "desert reset" in Owen's valley will have lasted just 100 years or so, long enough to wipe out the endemic species and push "reset" on evolutionary biology there that may take a million years to rebuild to something on the level of what it once was. Same for most of the U.S., really. South of the 49th parallel, we've wiped the continent clean down to maybe 1% "virgin" lands, except in the deserts and extreme swamps, and even they have huge problems from the changes that have taken place around them.

                          Stocking a lake with Rainbow Trout and stocking a prarie with grazing cattle may look all rosy and productive, but it's not the same thing as naturally evolved communities. Will we ever "grow up" enough to not be afraid of large apex predators (lions, tigers and bears?) Probably not, and more's the shame for future generations.

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              • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 13, @04:45AM (17 children)

                by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 13, @04:45AM (#1212328) Journal

                Ok, so you have to control the runoff too. I'm just saying a leaky water pipeline is less offensive than a leaky chemical pipeline. On the other hand, more agriculture puts more moisture into the air, and water vapor is a helluva greenhouse gas..

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                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @03:00PM (16 children)

                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @03:00PM (#1212418)

                  Oh yeah, I'd much rather have potable, or near potable water leaking from a pipeline under my land than petrochemicals, or worse - and there are worse pipelines out there.

                  However, the major irrigation projects that make those pretty green circles in the flyover states, many of them are not long-term sustainable and they're hurting the ecosystems they take the water from, and while you can argue that agriculture "improves" the ecosystem that gets irrigated, other than the people eating (and profiting from) the food, pretty much everything else that just got displaced by the agriculture is suffering, suffering hard on the farmland itself, and even around it.

                  As for controlling runoff - they grow tomatoes by flooding the fields, we're talking about several (like 10+) feet of water being used over the course of a single crop, so 100 acres of tomatoes will consume ~1000 acre-feet of water in the space of a few months. One acre-foot is 325851 gallons. There's really not much way to deal with three hundred million gallons of runoff other than letting it flow into the existing streams and rivers.

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                  • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 13, @06:16PM (15 children)

                    by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 13, @06:16PM (#1212452) Journal

                    There's really not much way to deal with three hundred million gallons of runoff other than letting it flow into the existing streams and rivers.

                    Aren't they taking their water from those same streams and rivers?

                    Our methods are not sustainable, the ideas are not. All water is ultimately just circulated, With the right priorities I'm sure we can put it anywhere we want without wrecking the planet

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                    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @06:54PM (14 children)

                      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @06:54PM (#1212479)

                      Aren't they taking their water from those same streams and rivers?

                      No, those are too unreliable as a water source, and far too visible when they run dry and agriculture is pulling water from them.

                      They pull their water from underground - the Hawthorne aquifer in the case of Sarasota County where the Myakka problem is. The Hawthorne originates at the Okeefenokee swamp in Georgia and flows through limestone formations all the way down the state. Water from the Hawthorne is directly potable, it has some H2S content that makes it unpleasant when it first comes from the ground, but if you let is stand and offgas for an hour it is high quality drinking water without further treatment. They hook multiple 1000hp pumps to multiple 12" boreholes down to the 200-300' range and they suck the water out of the aquifer at such rates that where it used to flow out as natural springs, it will drop 15-20' below ground almost beyond the range of shallow (suction based) well pumps.

                      While the citizens of Sarasota County are on water restrictions, only allowed to wash cars and water lawns on alternate days based on address and license plate number, building codes requiring low flow showerheads and won't completely flush in one try toilets, the tomatoes of Sarasota County are blowing water out of the same aquifer the people drink from at a higher rate than the people. Maybe more clearly: in a given year, Sarasota County puts more water on tomatoes than ALL of their citizens consume through municipal sources plus estimates of private (residential / non agricultural) well usage.

                      With the right priorities I'm sure we can put it anywhere we want without wrecking the planet

                      Yeah, except that the existing ecosystems have evolved over hundreds to millions of years, and when you go mucking about with one of their primary resources either too little or too much of it will unbalance the system which may or may not recover gracefully. Plus, any man-made change to the primary resource supplies is likely to be unreliable in the extreme, like warm water discharge from power plants providing safe winter haven for Manatees, until the plant shuts down in January and the Manatees sheltering there die of hypothermia before they can find a new safe harbor.

                      One problem is that even the best scientists don't fully understand how ecosystems work, even today. A bigger problem is: even where the scientists do have practical understanding of the situation the businesses and politicians who mostly direct development don't care. Most "eco friendly" development legislation is used more for competitive advantage, creating a restricted supply of developable land driving prices & profits of available developments higher. Not to mention when it is pushed through by players holding resources that won't be impacted by new "eco friendly" rules to cut down on their present and future competition.

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                      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 13, @06:58PM (13 children)

                        by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 13, @06:58PM (#1212484) Journal

                        Most "eco friendly" development legislation is used more for competitive advantage, creating a restricted supply of developable land driving prices & profits of available developments higher. Not to mention when it is pushed through by players holding resources that won't be impacted by new "eco friendly" rules to cut down on their present and future competition.

                        And we've circled back to corruption... the real problem

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                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @08:28PM (12 children)

                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @08:28PM (#1212512)

                          The problem I see in fixing corruption is that it's so damn much work for so little reward.

                          I mean: who would bother getting into politics in the first place, unless they planned to profit from it?

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                          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 13, @08:34PM (11 children)

                            by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 13, @08:34PM (#1212514) Journal

                            who would bother getting into politics in the first place, unless they planned to profit from it?

                            That issue is solved by conscription, like jury duty, in and out, nobody gets hurt

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                            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday January 13, @08:38PM (10 children)

                              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday January 13, @08:38PM (#1212516)

                              That was the Arthur C. Clarke solution - sounds nice, but would require significant restructuring to avoid the crackpot at the top problem, so recently demonstrated.

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                              • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Thursday January 13, @09:00PM (9 children)

                                by fustakrakich (6150) on Thursday January 13, @09:00PM (#1212521) Journal

                                Without reelection, it will be a small problem, and besides, you will need a congress (half) full of them

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                                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14, @03:24AM (8 children)

                                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @03:24AM (#1212589)

                                  I think about my neighbors, and I think the country could survive four years of most of them as President - most. That 1/100 is going to get in sometime and as bad as 2017-2020 was, it could have easily been much worse - and I know that 1/100 neighbor who could and likely would have made it worse.

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                                  • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Friday January 14, @04:10AM (7 children)

                                    by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday January 14, @04:10AM (#1212602) Journal

                                    We really don't have to worry about that, a president has no power without a congress to back him up, and that we paralyze by keeping it conveniently divided right down the middle, but that just slows down the destruction a bit, it's still a "ship of fools", as the story goes

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                                    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday January 14, @02:24PM (6 children)

                                      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday January 14, @02:24PM (#1212666)

                                      CinC of the armed forces? I know the people just under the cabinet were developing contingency plans for how to deflect an order to nuke China as the 2020 election was wrapping up, they didn't have really good legal ground to stand on, but regardless - that kind of chaos at the top severely undermines national security.

                                      It could work with some structural changes, but even 1/3 of my neighbors between the ages of 35 and 60 would be as harmful to social progress as the orange trust fund baby was.

                                      The current structures implement lots of (undesirable, but it's how it is) quid-pro-quo cooperation among the representatives. The representatives don't directly represent their electorate very well, but they do each represent certain power factions in the country - large businesses, etc. The shrub years (Bush W) showed what happens when one group (petrochem energy) gets a rapid boost in government representation. The blue party is just as much in the pockets of business, they just put up a better front about also trying to occasionally represent "the common man."

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                                      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Friday January 14, @08:34PM (5 children)

                                        by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday January 14, @08:34PM (#1212755) Journal

                                        CinC of the armed forces?

                                        Technically only congress can declare war, and theoretically they can impeach and remove a president that violates the rules.

                                        It could work with some structural changes, but even 1/3 of my neighbors between the ages of 35 and 60 would be as harmful to social progress as the orange trust fund baby was.

                                        Exactly, the corruption is much closer to home than it appears (takes corrupt voters to reelect corrupt politicians), but we still put them on juries, so why not give 'em a whack at politics? But without the perks...

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                                        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday January 15, @01:11AM (4 children)

                                          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday January 15, @01:11AM (#1212816)

                                          Check out what all Obama did without declaring war.

                                          I don't know that the voters all know what they're voting for. I'd be surprised if even half know what the candidates they're voting for do, much less their stated policy stances or voting records.

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                                          • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Saturday January 15, @01:51AM (3 children)

                                            by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday January 15, @01:51AM (#1212831) Journal

                                            Check out what all Obama did without declaring war.

                                            Obama/Bush/Reagan... Because congress allows it, but they don't have to. We have the tools to prevent all this, just takes the simple will to apply them

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                                            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday January 16, @05:51PM (2 children)

                                              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday January 16, @05:51PM (#1213172)

                                              Because congress allows it, but they don't have to.

                                              Um... the law as it was taught to me is that the President has authority to take military action, but not to declare war.

                                              Congress ultimately controls the budget, the only way for Congress to stop the President from taking unilateral "less than war" military actions is to defund the military, or rewrite the laws as they have been since Vietnam.

                                              Vietnam (I believe) was a result of Congress giving even MORE power to the President through the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, etc. which they finally took back after Nixon resigned.

                                              Of course, the system is "flexible" enough to reshape itself into anything on sustained support of a massive majority of the electorate - historically, we haven't shut down Presidential authority to take global military action - ever.

                                              Can you imagine requiring Congressional approval to launch ICBMs with nuclear warheads? So far, no superpower has implemented anything like that.

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                                              • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Sunday January 16, @06:15PM (1 child)

                                                by fustakrakich (6150) on Sunday January 16, @06:15PM (#1213181) Journal

                                                Can you imagine requiring Congressional approval to launch ICBMs with nuclear warheads?

                                                Well, I do know that we should never let just one person decide to launch. With sane people at the helm, the lead up to war is very slow, and even insane people can't hide much. Right now, we are way too permissive with that kind of authority

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                                                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday January 16, @10:41PM

                                                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday January 16, @10:41PM (#1213267)

                                                  Dr. Strangelove assured us that the chain of command could not be subverted like shown in the movie.

                                                  There was a Russian field officer back in the 1980s (I think) who subverted chain of command and procedure to NOT launch when all his orders told him to do so.

                                                  Neither of these situations address the "madman at the top" scenario. In 2020 the madman ordered an underling to go ride herd on a Carrier captain, and the underling did so - then resigned after he thought better of the situation (possibly after his PR team told him it would be to his advantage to do so), but in any event - the moment of sanity came far after the transit time of an ICBM,

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        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday January 12, @05:53PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday January 12, @05:53PM (#1212175)

          Well, if we can pipe oil across Alaska, we can pipe water across the Rockies.

          Pump water across the Rockies from what source, and in what direction? It's not like there's sufficient water in the Colorado River to meet demands within 200 miles of it right now.

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