Banner
    Mother Nature Is Ruining The Earth
    By Hank Campbell | September 17th 2012 04:18 PM | 56 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0® and co-author of "Science Left Behind".

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone...

    View Hank's Profile
    Anti-science people with a 'natural' fetish don't understand that the random and unpredictable nature of...nature...is a bad thing.  All of the funding campaigns and Internet rants of environmentalists are only possible because scientists and engineers harnessed the power of dangerous, unpredictable nature at one point in time - we don't try to power our homes and business with all-natural lightning bolts, we instead generate electricity synthetically and we do so as safely as possible. It can still hurt you but no one is waging a campaign against electricity today.

    But in the early days of commercial electricity, a public relations campaign against one competing technology was in full force. Who manipulated public sentiment about new alternating current (AC) electricity generation for their own gain, much like organic soap peddlers are doing today with their efforts promoting scare journalism about genetically modified food?  Thomas Edison was the US 'conservative' populist who told consumers they would all be electrocuted by the progressive, futuristic, scientific, new and unproven refinements developed by Nikola Tesla and others at GE rival Westinghouse.  Was he right?  Sure, technically.  AC power could be dangerous - so could DC.  But Edison left out that DC part and got busy electrocuting dogs to scare the public about a competitor.  Potential in physics is how we get electricity and thus electric potential can do good or bad things. So it goes with the potential of food science and inciting public fear and doubt; genetically modified foods have harmed no one while organic processed foods have sickened tens of thousands and killed hundreds. Yet the public is being deceived into believing food science is a problem rather than a gateway to the future.

    Who wants to live without alternating current and instead have a power station every 500 feet today?  No one, but modern-day progressives are ironically conservative and easily scared about science much as people of the late 1800s were, insisting that the future is too terrifying and we should retreat to the comfortable past.

    Sticking with our Tesla metaphor, modern activists of today would basically ban modern electricity if they could - but they know they can't do that with GM foods, since science has shown GM foods haven't harmed anyone, even pets. Instead, they want to create warning labels, but only for the foods they want to penalize. There is no corporate organic brand in restaurant food that can be helped by penalizing GM food, for example, so the lawyer who wrote the Proposition 37 language exempts restaurants - they can serve all the GM food they want - and taking on alcohol would quickly doom the legislation in the minds of voters, so that is wisely avoided as well.   Also exempt from 'truth in labeling' and transparency about what we eat?  Organic food.

    Instead, the only products with warning labels will be in stores where - surprise - you will see one of the competing exempt organic brands that the Prop 37 PR campaign financiers sell for a higher cost.  They want you to buy food that has been shown to have no nutritional benefit over traditionally farmed produce and no environmental benefit over traditional farming.  Organic is just a different process, like being kosher, but with a lot better marketing.  Like being kosher, organic food simply has its religious adherents.  Even Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the Four Horsemen of the Alternative, can't find a reason to say kosher food is better for you, though. 

    Mother Nature is random. Mother Nature is fickle. Mother Nature is, basically, kind of a bitch. 

    12,000 years ago as the Ice Age ended, we suddenly had a lot more water.  Mankind adjusted to that. Climate continues to change, and certainly mankind has helped move that along - in Haiti, there is only 2 percent of the forest cover left, not because of corporations but because people whacked down the trees to make charcoal to try and live better lives. Deforestation has also hit more than 20 percent of the Dominican Republic.  As a result of a confluence of some man-made and numerous whammies from nature, lakes are growing and forcing people from their homes. Knowing that the problem exists, should we do nothing and let nature take its course? 

    It is positively anti-science to assume that if nature does something nasty, we cannot undo it.  It is unnatural for people to live where many live in New Orleans yet when flooding happens during wonderful natural hurricanes, who do people blame?  Well, a lot still blame former President George W. Bush whenever possible, he apparently invented hurricanes, but more generally we blame people, not nature. And we don't even blame people for living in risky places, we blame people in government for not holding back natural events.

    Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic has had a lot of rain the last few years - some environmentalists will blame climate change by default but it is pointless to do so and make political hay out of the plight of poor people.  Global warming did not cause heavy rains a few years ago nor did it cause Tropical Storm Isaac this year - it was fickle Nature and the largest lake in the Caribbean undoing the plans of men just as she has throughout history. In 2006 it had receded to 1984 levels but now it is much larger.


    Science is all about not forcing people to stand outside on a rock in a lightning storm. Photo: Shutterstock

    Who do we blame, then, if not George Bush or BP? Heavy rain has aggravated the problem of sediment that can fill the lake - canals that drain it are not enough. Haiti's 2010 earthquake could also have shifted faults and altered the hydrology of the area. We can't blame humans for earthquakes, they don't even have fracking in Haiti. We can blame humans for blocking science with lawsuits in the US or, in the case of Haiti, for propping up corrupt governments that do nothing about an obvious problem that science can fix.

    Food, energy and engineering a better world are all manageable science problems, not reasons to abandon science and go back to sacrificing people and animals to natural gods and hope for random results.  Nature doesn't listen to public relations efforts.

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Ha ha, quite a rant, do you feel better now Hank? What's even funnier is that you have somehow succeeded in convincing me, an organic food growing hippie, into agreeing with much of your content! Yes, I even agree that organic food should have labels too, not just the GMO foods! 

    What I really want to know though, is how did someone get Andrea Kuszewski to pose for that death defying photo and where is she these days, not still standing on that rock out at sea  I hope?

    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Hank
    Nah, it is a shutterstock photo.  She is too smart to stand in a lightning storm holding a metal rod.
    While I agree organic food isn't actually healthier, I would contend that it does have benefits over other produce. It's less damaging to the environment for one thing. Also from my own anecdotal experience, I've found that a lot of the fruits actually taste better on average.

    Also, there's this: http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm

    I know it's just one study, but clearly there are some risks with certain genetic modifications. A blanket labeling of anything that has had recombinant technology used isn't the answer, but there isn't a robust enough regulatory scheme in place to parse "good" genetic modifications from "bad." Just some food for thought...

    Hank
     It's less damaging to the environment for one thing
    Well, it isn't. Numerous studies have shown that is just clever marketing.  As noted, if you use 80X the organic fertilizer and organic rather than synthetic pesticides, you are not improving the environment.  It just requires belief that organic fertilizer pollution runoff is better, but it isn't.

    The taste issue I will concede, because taste is subjective.  But I can also go from one organic farm to a different one a mile away and get better tasting berries, so it doesn't have anything to do with the organic food process.  The process does not control anything about the taste.  
    Hank
    http://www.biolsci.org/v05p0706.htm was written by an anti-GMO book author - in Europe, where even their own EU Science Advisor says they are anti-science - using data from one study he sued Monsanto to get because he knew it contained what he wanted to write about.  Picking the result and then doing statistical analysis until it shows up is not science.
    California needs to put a warning label on their voting ballots stating that voting for the wrong idiot is far more dangerous and deadly than any GM food they ingest.

    Hank
    The Sacramento Bee (paper in the state capitol of California) editorial board recommends a 'no' on Prop 37. Not because they are against labeling or awareness or transparency, but because they are against crappy, poorly-worded law that is a subsidy for lawyers. 
    Proposition 37 is a classic example of an initiative that shouldn't be on the ballot. It is an overreach, is ambiguous, and would open the way for countless lawsuits against retailers who sell food that might lack the proper labeling.

    Its proponents made no effort to push the concept through the Legislature. While such a bill might have failed, at least the Legislature's attorneys and analysts could have refined ambiguous provisions.
    It doesn't take being good law to get on the ballot.  You just need a rich alternative medicine crackpot to spend $500,000 to gather signatures and then even more to fool people into thinking this is about honesty in food.
    JohnK.
    This goes right in line with another article I recently read about Golden Rice.  Humans have been breeding crops and animals for thousands of years to improve the attributes that are best suited for us.  Dogs are a plentiful example of genetically modified animals that are far more numerous than they would ever be naturally in the world.  The only difference between GM food and selective breeding is how long it takes to get the results you want.

    We could allow children to go blind from lack of vitamin A or we can support groups that oppose science.  Hank nailed it on this one and I would also like to congratulate him on his book that is right in line with this article.

    As for prop 37, California has managed to get itself into an amazing mess with the proposition system.  If this passes it will certainly make organic cost competitive, but really everyone not in the organic food industry will lose.  I believe the correct term for that is crony capitalism.
    Hank
    This goes right in line with another article I recently read about Golden Rice. 
    A few of us discussed that article this morning and felt like it should have been called "Greenpeace hates poor people."

    Blind kids are a great way to raise donations. No one is anti-science like Greenpeace. Except maybe Sierra Club and Discovery Institute.
    Hank, in reading your truly contemptuous rant, I have to say that for me to hold graduate degrees in both Technology and Mechanical Engineering (with an MBA as an afterthought)...you sure do give me reason to jump over to the 'Organic Growers' side of the equation, here.

    Seriously...you need to reconsider Malcolm's treatise from Crichton's 'Jurassic Park...that went something to the idea of:
    "Scientists have not done the preponderance of their work themselves, but have compounded work upon work, with synergy to produce a monster. They have raced towards knowledge with the speed of the gods, wanting to see if they could do this thing, never once stopping to ask themselves 'should they?'

    After nuclear power was discovered, wasn't it said in sadness, "now that it is out, we cannot put the genie back into the bottle" (referring to the nightmare of nuclear power and the related controls or 'undiscovery' of it)?

    Face it...we create things all the time we wish we hadn't...we always make money on it...we always commercialize it and sell it and grow rich on it...and in the end, we never 'unlearn' bad things...we perfect them and either mass-commoditize them, or restrict them to ONLY GOVERNMENT USE.

    We are our own worst viruses...and while the earth is our petri dish, we most-assuredly will go the way of any biogenesis experiment where exponential growth leads to saturation of media, followed by overpopulation and eventual self-genocide. Bacteria do it, viruses do it, and we are not only 'no better' than them...but behave like perfected samples.

    Generations ago an author, N. Hawthorne, wrote about mandatory labels and the our right to know. In our age, Monsanto and the big GMO food industry have offended our traditions and threaten our deeply held moral values. Like Hester, they'll be forced to wear the Scarlet Letter so that the community can avoid the polution of sin. We, like the Puritains in the story, like to blend punishment with precaution. Proposition 37 even provides specific exemptions, so that, like the Reverend Dimsdale, certain ones are not required to label their product.
    Proposotion 37 is modern politics is acting out an old story: it's a pretense to do good in the community but is really just an example of religious hypocrisy.

    With condolences, only deniers sell ad space on the backs of the dead, disabled, and damaged. Somebody needs to google the big catastrophic nouns to make sure they weren't AGW predictions.

    Gerhard Adam
    Mother Nature is random. Mother Nature is fickle. Mother Nature is, basically, kind of a bitch.
    Actually she's not.  She simply doesn't favor humans at the expense of everything else.  If we were going to be clear about this, then the majority of the problems we face is because we refuse to curtail our population growth.  We think that we can simply breed until we run out of room and then "nature" is still supposed to accommodate us.

    Humans are the only species that has managed to produce plenty of food and still starve.  In short, we haven't learned to solve any of our problems, because those "problems" are invariably the product of wanting the "rules" to not apply to us. 

    This isn't to say that we have to live like a wombat, but there's a difference between utilizing our abilities to make life simpler for ourselves, versus feeling compelled to compete with nature because we don't want to live by the rules of "science" [i.e. biology] that govern life. 
    Well, a lot still blame former President George W. Bush whenever possible, he apparently invented hurricanes ...
    I don't believe anyone actually made such a claim.  Instead the blame was placed because of poor response and poor planning knowing full well the science of hurricanes.  Whether you wish to blame local politicians or FEMA, the result was the same.  Billions of dollars spent on governmental organizations that are simply incompetent.  It is no different than the governmental response to the anthrax scare and virtually everything else they've been engaged in "planning" for.
    ...but they know they can't do that with GM foods, since science has shown GM foods haven't harmed anyone, even pets.
    You also know that's an unscientific statement, since no such claim has ever been made.  The science simply says that GM foods aren't any more harmful than ordinary foods, so to claim that they do less harm is simply wrong.
    ...genetically modified foods have harmed no one while organic processed foods have sickened tens of thousands and killed hundreds.
    Again ... not a true representation.  Organic foods have done no such thing.  What has happened is that contamination of foods has occurred and therein lies the risk.  The same would occur for GM foods.  So if the caveat is that foods need to be handled properly to avoid contamination, or to consider the risks of how such contamination might be introduced, then you'd have a valid point.  However in making the statement about food, it's simply wrong.

    I happen to agree that Prop 37 isn't going to achieve what it should and one can certainly argue the merits of the law, but I don't think it's reasonable to argue that foods [ALL foods] shouldn't be properly labeled.  It is clear that even plant hybridization has produced potential problems and there is simply no excuse for the lack of information being available, whether it be for consumers or future scientific studies.  There is no valid reason to intentionally avoid collecting data on something of this nature.  We should be getting better informed, not less.

    You also left out one other trait that "nature" has besides random, fickle, and bitchy.  Nature is also impartial.  She doesn't play favorites, and you can't command a preferred place simply because of money or power.  Nature may have droughts and famines.  Nature may have severe storms that destroy your home.  But only man can ensure that you are both homeless and starving for no good reason.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Look, you say this on every article - 'organic foods have not made people sick' - and you are in defiance of every analysis that shows the thing that made people sick was organic food and the shit they leave on it.   You then are forced to assume the shit on organic food and not on GM food came from somewhere else, like someone only handling organic food with shit on their hands. It's a real leap of the imagination to assume all of the illnesses causes by organic food were just bad luck and an outside cause rather than a sloppy, unmonitored, subjective approach to how food is grown.

    You also say I can't claim GM foods have not harmed anyone since...they haven't harmed anyone.  Well, that is how things get penalized, they have to show harm.  No GM food has been recalled because of its GM constituency, not once, yet organic foods get recalled all of the time because they make people sick.

    I also never argued against truth in labeling about food, I argue against bad law that will penalize a type of food which has done no harm and establish a false veneer of purity on organic food.
    Gerhard Adam
    You also say I can't claim GM foods have not harmed anyone since...they haven't harmed anyone.
    That's right.  You can only claim that, to the best of anyone's knowledge, they haven't been shown to be any more harmful that conventional foods.  That's what substantial equivalence is all about.  Your claim makes them even safer than conventional foods, which is not true.
    It's a real leap of the imagination to assume all of the illnesses causes by organic food were just bad luck and an outside cause rather than a sloppy, unmonitored, subjective approach to how food is grown.
    Whether you want to attribute it to bad luck or sloppy production, it isn't the food itself [since that is also conventional food], but rather the means of production.  It's no different than the case regarding cattle deaths against Syngenta.  If it turns out the farmer had some other problem with pesticide or something else, you certainly wouldn't say that GM foods can be blamed, simply because he handled them poorly.

    It's no different than someone alleging that there's something fundamentally wrong with beef, because of an E Coli outbreak.  The problem is in the post-production status, where many things can go wrong or be mismanaged, but that isn't sufficient reason to blame the food itself.

    Just as with GM foods, there's no reason to treat your claim that organic food is somehow more harmful with any more credence, since that is clearly not true.  The food is the same in all three cases; GM, conventional, and organic.  Whether there are factors in how that food is handled is a separate and distinct issue, and you can certainly raise the point that some methods of production are more lax or sloppy or prone to problems, but you can't blame the food.
    You then are forced to assume the shit on organic food and not on GM food came from somewhere else, like someone only handling organic food with shit on their hands.
    If that's going to be your argument, are you going to be prepared to handle the criticisms when someone comes along with pesticide residue?  Should having a diseased cow in a herd that contributes E Coli be treated as a criminal act? 

    On the one hand you're basing your assessment of GM foods safety on "substantial equivalence" and then trying to deny the same equivalence to organic foods [again, I'm not referring to post production handling, i.e. the producer can't be responsible for someone failing to wash their vegetables].
    Mundus vult decipi
    UvaE
    in Haiti, there is only 2 percent of the forest cover left, not because of corporations but because people whacked down the trees to make charcoal to try and live better lives.
    I didn't realize that Haiti's deforestation occurred in at least two phases; the more recent one was caused, as you mentioned, by the reliance on charcoal after there had been an intense effort to plant trees. The common problems in the Caribbean include basic overpopulation due to a history of slavery  and a lack of natural resources.  But Haiti's issues are far worse because dictatorships have not made infrastructure a priority. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, tourism and banking have brought in some wealth, and education has given people the option to leave islands that for a large part are, as the cliche goes, nice to visit but...
    Hank
    Not sure how long we have been attempting to fix Haiti, it is certainly a cottage industry. Natural events have certainly made the issue worse and we will spend tens of millions of dollars trying to protect a few hundred homes from a lake instead of a sustained effort (without cameras or celebrity publicity) to make the whole place sustainable.
    Gerhard Adam
    It is positively anti-science to assume that if nature does something nasty, we cannot undo it.
    I also found this statement to be quite interesting and contradictory.  I noticed that you mentioned poor people in the article, and yet that condition exists solely because of human society and organization.

    Yet, what struck me about it was that if humans cut down all the trees, or destroy something in the ecosystem, and then attempt to live beyond the means of the environment, then nature is being a "bitch" and it is "scientific" to try and rectify the situation.

    Interestingly, if the same situation were man-made, no one would feel that way.  If people live beyond their budgets and go into debt, then if they lose their homes, then everyone says that they were irresponsible.  There are all manner of laws to ensure that people live up to their economic obligations.  There isn't any "scientific" excuse for simply wanting to make your life better that justifies robbery, for example.  Yet, somehow it does when it comes to "nature".

    So irresponsibly cutting down all the trees is just an attempt to make one's "life better", but spending beyond all your means is irresponsible.   Apparently as long as the entity being exploited is "Mother Nature", then everything can be rationalized.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    There is no point to an article whose theme is 'we can't change the human condition' - but we can fight against nature, including the nature of people.  
    If you are going to comment on current conditions of poverty and destitution in Haiti, it would behoove you to see what the United States involvement in Haiti looks like historically, Hank. Haiti didn't find itself in the current state of poverty and destitution overnight, nor is it in the tragic shape it finds itself in, without European and US involvement.

    January 1, 1804: Haiti Declares Independence
    General Jean-Jacques Dessalines declares Haiti’s independence, after crushing the French army sent by Napoleon to re-enslave it following the world’s first successful slave revolt. Dessalines quickly makes himself emperor. [ROGOZINSKI, 1992; DUNKEL, 1994]
    Entity Tags: Jean-Jacques Dessalines

    1806: US Places Embargo on Trade with Haiti
    Fearful that the Haitian revolution might inspire enslaved Africans in other parts of the world to rebel, US Congress bans trade with Haiti joining French and Spanish boycotts. The embargoes cripple Haiti’s economy, already weakened by 12 years of civil war. The embargo will be renewed in 1807 and 1809. [DUNKEL, 1994] The embargo is accompanied by a threat of recolonization and re-enslavement if Haiti fails to compensate France for losses incurred when French plantation owners lost access to Haiti’s slave labor. [NEWSDAY, 12/3/2003; MIAMI HERALD, 12/18/2003; BOSTON GLOBE, 1/4/2004]
    Entity Tags: US Congress

    1820: Senator Says US Will Never Acknowledge Haiti
    Robert V. Hayne, a senator from South Carolina, summarizes US policy toward Haiti: “Our policy with regard to Haiti is plain. We never can acknowledge her independence.” This position reflects the United States’ fear that Haiti’s example would inspire slave revolts in other parts of the world and bring an end to slavery worldwide. [DUNKEL, 1994; LOUISIANA WEEKLY, 3/8/2004]
    Entity Tags: Robert V. Hayne

    1825: France Recognizes Haiti in Return for Massive Compensation
    Haiti is forced to pay 150 million gold francs to France to “compensate” French plantation slave-owners for their “financial losses.” The amount demanded by the French represents more than twice the value of the entire country’s net worth. In exchange, France agrees to recognize Haiti’s independence. Years later, the amount is reduced to 90 million gold francs, however it will take Haiti close to 100 years to pay off this debt and only with the help of high interest loans to French banks. [ROGOZINSKI, 1992; NEWSDAY, 12/3/2003; MIAMI HERALD, 12/18/2003; BOSTON GLOBE, 1/4/2004]

    1862: US Recognizes Haiti
    The US recognizes independent Haiti for the first time and sends Frederick Douglass as its Consular Minister. [DUNKEL, 1994; HAITI PROGRES, 9/24/2003; CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 3/4/2004]
    Entity Tags: Frederick Douglass

    July 18, 1915: US Sends Troops to Haiti
    US President Woodrow Wilson sends US forces to Haiti in an attempt to prevent Germany or France from taking it over. Haiti controls the Windward Passage to the Panama Canal and is seen as strategically critical. The Haitian government is near insolvency at this time and is significantly in debt to foreign corporations. German companies control almost 80 percent of Haitian trade. US forces will occupy the country until 1934. [ROGOZINSKI, 1992, PP. 238-239] A few weeks later, the US State Department installs Senator Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave as the head of state. “When the National Assembly met, the Marines stood in the aisles with their bayonets until the man selected by the American Minister was made President,” Smedley Butler, a Marine who will administer Haiti’s local police force, later writes. [ROGOZINSKI, 1992, PP. 239; COMMON DREAMS, 3/10/2004]
    Entity Tags: Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, Smedley D. Butler, Woodrow Wilson

    November 11, 1915: US Pressures Haiti into Signing Disadvantageous Treaty
    Under pressure from the United States, Haitian President Sudre Dartiguenave signs, and the Haitian senate ratifies, a treaty legitimizing the US occupation and putting Haitian finances and government under the control of the US for the next 20 years. The act also disbands the Haitian army, creating in its place a single US-led, 3000-man police force known as the Gendarmerie d’Haiti which answers to the US Secretary of State. [ROGOZINSKI, 1992, PP. 239; COMMON DREAMS, 3/10/2004] The Gendarmerie oversees the implementation of a US law reviving the practice of conscripted labor, or corv�e, which requires Haitian peasants to work on roads for three days a year. However, in some cases workers are forced to work bound with ropes for weeks and even months. The practice reminds Haitians of their slavery under the French and inspires a rebellion in 1918 (see Late 1918-1920). [HEUVEL, 1990; ROGOZINSKI, 1992, PP. 240]
    Entity Tags: Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave

    Early 1917: US and Haitian Lawmakers Argue over New Constitution for Haiti
    The US drafts a constitution for Haiti, which notably excludes a provision from the country’s previous constitution which had prohibited foreign ownership of land. Under the US-drafted constitution, foreign investors would be able to purchase fertile areas and establish sugar cane, cacao, banana, cotton, tobacco, and sisal plantations. But the Haitian legislature finds the US-proposed constitution unacceptable and continues working on a new document which would reverse the terms of the 1915 treaty (see November 11, 1915), giving control of Haiti back to its own government, and which would leave the previous constitution’s land restrictions intact. When a copy of the document is sent to Washington, it is quickly rejected by the US State Department which complains that it is “unfriendly” and instructs that its passage be prevented. But the Haitian lawmakers continue their work with plans to quickly ratify the new constitution and then impeach Haitian President Dartiguenave on the basis of the new document’s provisions. To prevent its passage, Dartiguenave orders US Marine Smedley Butler to dissolve the Haitian legislature, which he does as they are preparing to vote on the new constitution. Smedley claims that the measure is necessary in order “to end the spirit of anarchy which animates it [the Hatian legislature].” [ROGOZINSKI, 1992, PP. 240; COMMON DREAMS, 3/10/2004]
    Entity Tags: Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, Smedley D. Butler

    http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=haiti
    -----------------------

    PS... there is no way to comment on safety of GMOs in pet food, as there is not a single controlled feeding trial in cats or dogs. I challenge you, Hank, to post a Single link to a cat / dog --food controlled feeding trial.

    Hank
    I'm quite certain GM foods are safer for pets than they were when Thomas Edison electrocuted them to debunk AC power.
    I'm quite certain GM foods are safer for pets than they were when Thomas Edison electrocuted them to debunk AC power.

    I, unlike you---don't have a luxury of being certain in the Absence of Scientific Evidence.

    Do you have Any Scientific Evidence, Hank?

    PS.... love the censorship.... it is the highest honor you can pay someone--Phobia of Alternative Ideas which expose yours as an absolute Fraud.

    One More interesting side note on US Marine Smedley Butler, in his own words:
    :" I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested"

    http://www.fas.org/man/smedley.htm

    I encourage you to read another fascinating historical side-note involved Maj. General Smedley Butler, and great enterprises-- Morgan, Dupont, Remington, Anaconda, Bethlehem, Goodyear, GMC, and FDR.

    Gerhard Adam
    Just FYI, for anyone interested.

    Smedley Butler rose to the rank of Major General, and is the most decorated U.S. Marine in history.  He was awarded TWO Medals of Honor [obviously neither, posthumously], so he's not someone that people can just blow off as being some radical.
    Mundus vult decipi
    I am glad that you are certain. What Scientific Evidence does your certainty rest on, Hank?

    You are quite Certain?

    Certainty depends on Scientific Evidence evaluated by medical professionals. Do you have a medical degree, or do you have any Scientific Evidence to cite, Hank?

    Hank
    No, nor do I have evidence that can prove you are not an alien from Mars.   So, by all means walk around Crackpotville stating that GM foods are worse for pets than being electrocuted.
    ROFLMAO, Hank.

    I am a missionary from Mars.

    Who told you, Hank?

    Typing with my 68 long green tentacles is quite the challenge here on Earth... they get tangled on this thing you homo sapiens call "a keyboard" and the sticky discharge they exude to help us navigate on Mars makes the keys stick.

    ^ ^
    ( o o )
    > <

    How about that link to a single controlled feeding trial in a cat, Hank?

    John Hasenkam
     It's less damaging to the environment for one thing. Also from my own anecdotal experience, I've found that a lot of the fruits actually taste better on average. 

    Ya think? More transport costs and hence carbon issues, less effective use of agricultural land, more labor intensive, more expensive for consumers, completely unviable as a means of mass feeding. Get real, organic farming is not good for the environment, nor is there sufficient evidence it is better for us. They use copper as a fungicide in some organic farming. Great, it was an Aus neuroscientist who established that copper is a greater promoter of protein misfolding. Organic farming is narcissistic environmentalism, yet another example of the stunning contradictions humans can entertain and be proud of promoting. 
    Hank
    'Narcissistic environmentalism' is a good phrase.
    Ever since I've lashed out at you, I've taken the time to read some of your articles. I don't know how you come to your conclusions. Do the potential negative effects of "progress" even cross your mind? For instance, GMO through cross pollination will eventually ruin all our natural crops! All of our natural seeds as we know them today, will go extinct over time, unless locked and stored in a vault. A lot of this GMO garbage is only good for one year and will not reproduce...Don't you find that frightening? Nuclear power is a bad idea too..(LOOK AT JAPAN) One natural disaster can be a national/world emergency! Unless you believe radiation is a good thing. Fox pundit Ann Coulter believes that, but unfortunately not enough to take my offer of a one way ticket to Fukishima so she can help clean up the toxic mess. Anyway Hank, the science you speak of to me is mad science. We don't even have all the answers and yet you believe we should "play God" and see what happens. This is like creating a monster that you cannot control...This is the mindset spinning this world out of control! Speaking of, just take a good look at our wonderful foreign policy Hank! We supported Gaddafi, Hussein and Bin Ladin...now look! You think our problems are going to go away by killing these people? It's not that easy..You know, a wise person once told me, an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. I'm starting to realize that there is much truth in simplicity Hank. Do you feel the same? I don't know, maybe we all should just abandon all that is "human"? Maybe someday, we'll be able to merge with machines and be able to live without food or a planet...Do you like that idea Hank? I know I don't...Unfortunately it seems as if that is the direction we are headed...and mad men are driving.

    Hank
    Do the potential negative effects of "progress" even cross your mind?
    All of the time, we just have two different mentalities.  You seem to think science is out to kill us, and you ignore all of the good science has done and forget that in 'the past' that you idealize the world was far more dangerous. 

    I admire your conservative nature, and that has to be factored into policy decisions, but nothing would ever get done in science if scientists were as conservative as you.  
    MikeCrow
    I admire your conservative nature
    I might if it wasn't all based on idiocy.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    Doesn't anyone ever think there is a middle ground here?  Without having to regress to the past, is it really necessary to rush headlong into the future?
    You seem to think science is out to kill us, and you ignore all of the good science has done and forget that in 'the past' that you idealize the world was far more dangerous.
    This statement doesn't actually make any sense, because "science" is fundamentally neutral.  It only represents knowledge.  The ability to "kill" or do "good" is a function of application and policy.

    So, if your point is that science can be used to do bad things or good things, then the answer will depend on who's wielding it.

    What is so wrong with our lives that we have to push so hard to solve all these "problems"?  It certainly isn't to address the situations in countries where people may have serious issues to contend with, because that isn't the purpose of most of this scientific work.  We already know how to solve most of those problems and the difficulties lie with politics and not scientific knowledge.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    ...you ignore all of the good science has done and forget that in 'the past' that you idealize the world was far more dangerous.
    Actually that's kind of a strange view to hold, because while we may personally be ignorant about such a lifestyle, it isn't a coincidence that those living it don't wish to change.

    Time and again throughout history and even modern times, people that are living more "primitive" lives strongly resist any effort to integrate them into modern society, so there is a real sense that we haven't necessarily improved our "lives", except as it perhaps applies to large collections of humans in our "civilization". 

    You'd be hard pressed to argue that the 925 million starving people in the world today (13.6%) are living a "better" life.
    http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Barry, You are an idiot, why don't you remove the shackles of modern society and go live without.

    You wouldn't last a day, let alone a week. Idiot!
    Never is a long time.
    Well I appreciate your civility Hank, I understand that my first impression wasn't the most civil one. Mi Cro, I have lived without, that was quite the assumption. I could have been an army ranger for all you know....Anyway I have lived completely off the grid before, and at the mercy of others. I do appreciate modern society from this experience. I just do not believe that all "progress" is good. Sometimes moving "forward" to me, is moving backward. Time is not the end all be all, in the matters of what is right and wrong. If the Nazis would have won WWII they still would have been WRONG. My sense of self comes from something other than culture and time. If that makes me an idiot, I am proud to be one! ; )

    MikeCrow
    You could have been, but I bet you're not. Even if you were, you didn't do it without at least some modern tools. And most peoples living off the grid are still surrounded by stuff made by modern tools and technology.

    Look, if you want to go live in the woods, feel free, but unless you forge your own steel into axes, plows and knifes, or weave your own cloth, you're not living without the benefits of modern technology.

    We're not going to maintain civilization based on solar and wind power, at least not anytime soon. And while I don't agree that co2 is a problem, we are going to run out of fossil fuels at some point, if we want to maintain modern society we need nuclear energy, since we still can't build a fusion reactor, that leaves fission. We should be starting a new plant every week. I'd rather we develop single home reactors, but we could never allow radioactive materials throughout society because of the people who would turn it into bomb material.

    While Gerhard is correct that the big issue is population, who gets to decide how many kids people can have? We can't force people to have only 1 (reducing population), or 2 (maintaining population) kids in the US, and even if we did, what gives us the right to tell, say the people of Africa they can have only 1 or 2 kids? But there is a way to get people to reduce the number of kids they have, and that's to raise them up to 1st world living standards (which BTW is the opposite of espousing a party like it's 1899 life style).
    Never is a long time.
    Hank
    Indeed, Thoreau's family was rich enough to let him live 'off the grid' in his estimation.  He didn't need a job to afford the house and clothes and utensils and everything else that made him able to get 'back to nature'.   As I have said many times, going 'natural' is more for the 1% than it is for poor people who are closest to living a low-stuff lifestyle.  Poor people can't afford it any more than they can afford organic food.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...who gets to decide how many kids people can have?
    "Mother Nature".  This is precisely where one faces the hard decisions and has to examine the philosophical positions.  No one has to decide, because those "decisions" are already occurring and being made without man-made intervention.

    The problem is that we keep trying to postpone the inevitable by ensuring that people don't have to deal with the consequences of those choices.  So, the simple answer [which leads to the moral dilemma] is that "nature" already determines how many kids people can have.  So the problem is when humans determine that they can allow exceptions, and then find themselves in the moral quandry of recognizing the problem but lacking the will to enforce solutions.


    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    In part, the reason(or so I've read) why villagers and tribes men have some many children is because infant/child mortality rates are so high, if 2 in 3 die before adulthood, you have to have 6 just to maintain population.
    I think the man-made intervention you mention is that we've reduced that mortality rate. It might not be natural, but isn't it humane?

    And as I mentioned, we are fortunate(sort of) that women in 1st world societies don't want to have a lot of children.
    If we increased standard of living faster than we reduced mortality rates, we might not have a population problem.

    But even with all of this, IMO we can provide a first world standard of living for the entire population of the world.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...IMO we can provide a first world standard of living for the entire population of the world.
    Mike, not to pick on you, but ... oh what the hell, I'm going to pick on you.  Judging from the political and economic positions often argued in these blogs, I find that to be about the most "socialist" comment I ever expected to hear from you.

    So, should I ask ... who is this "we" of which you speak?
    Mundus vult decipi
    MikeCrow
    Lol
    Lone Ranger: "Tonto, we're going to storm that house fully of angry, armed bad guys!"
    Tonto:"Who's this "we" white man!"

    The resources available in the world are sufficient to allow everyone to live a first world lifestyle if they wish to put in the appropriate effort to do so. This is not to say working hard will always pay well, it as you've seen before from me, a matter of working hard providing value into the market place (as it's always been), and if you do, you can get all of the trappings of wealth you'd like. While there are many things in the US to complain about, you (yourself) can make something for yourself, if you provide value. The 2 biggest impediments to increasing your wealth are yourself, and the government.

    IMO much of the strife in the world is because many think there's only so much wealth to go around, when in reality there's a near limitless amount of wealth to be generated.

    I was thinking earlier today, that people living in slums in the US, for the most part live better and longer than the Kings and Queens in Medieval Europe.

    Now, all this doesn't say much for the people living in Africa, but the process is the same, bring capitalism to them, give them jobs making stuff, earns them a wage, they can then buy stuff (starting with food) improving their lives. At some point they have enough purchasing power to buy the stuff they make.
    Never is a long time.
    Gerhard Adam
    ...bring capitalism to them...
    We already did that.  Why do you think they're living in poverty?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Mi Cro it is pretty obvious from your comments and your avatar that you must be living on a different planet to the rest of us. How can you possibly think that to 'bring capitalism' to these 'people living in Africa' who are starving and dying in their millions in capital;istic societies, even often being shot and killed for just striking for a fair wage, can possibly improve their lives? Are you mad?
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    MikeCrow
    I must be, and because of that, let me ask you what you think the best course of action would be to give them a decent standard of living?
    Never is a long time.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    let me ask you what you think the best course of action would be to give them a decent standard of living? 
    Well Mi Cro, I think that the best course of action can probably be derived from looking at the main reasons why Africa is so poor. This BBC article is rather simplistic but outlines these problems :-
    Why is Africa poor? By the year 2000, half the world's poor were in Africa.
    It is the only continent to have become poorer in the past 25 years.This is because of several reasons:
    • Borrowing money
    • Growing cash crops
    • Dictatorship
    • Fighting
    • Population growth
    • Land ownership
    • Climate change
    • Dirty water
    So, in order to improve the situation in Africa, they need to be somehow let off by the World Banks from paying back such enormous amounts of interest from loans taken out decades ago and given new, more serviceable loans, they then need to grow less cash crops and more food crops for their people. Wherever possible they need to remove bad dictators and end all the fighting and spending of enormous amounts of money on weapons, that are often being supplied to them by the rich developed nations. 

    They also need to be given free contraception and education for all, women need equal rights so that they are able to inherit land and be educated and there needs to be much better water and cheaper medical supplies for everyone. 

    The developed world should be helping African nations to overcome all of these poverty problems wherever and however possible, by somehow supplying them with free education and internet access, low interest money, cheaper medicines, free contraceptives, better infrastructure and water purification and supply systems, seeds for crops and political and financial support for democracies and disincentives for dictatorships.



    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    MikeCrow
    Why do you think all of these things are not already being done?
    Never is a long time.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Why do you think all of these things are not already being done? 
    Because it requires help and capital investment from the developed world as well as help and capital investment from within, but capitalists don't like risk so it won't happen. As this article explains :-
    Africa ought to be one of the richest continents in the world in terms of mineral resources and arable farmland. So what is the problem? Internal factors and self-inflicted problems have been the major causes of poverty in Africa in recent years. For example, the rate of capital flight in Africa is more than any other continent. How can the continent develop when Africans are unwillingto invest their own money in their own countries?
    Above all, corruption and lack of effective rule of law present huge hurdles to would-be investors. In many countries, much local economic activity is under the control of the state, which necessarily leads to political influence and favoritism. Many government officials, both important and petty, believe that their position allows them to harass business people and extort outrageous feesa nd bribes. This corruption, combined with excessive regulation, deters both local and foreign investment. It is a problem that must be addressed not onlyby legal measures but also by the inculcation of a culture of personal moral responsibility that recognizes the damage done to the common good by corrupt exchanges.

    Capitalism has its uses but without being combined with democracy, education, equal rights and some form of 'socialism' it just maintains and even thrives on poverty. Capitalism is making a lot of money in Africa from supplying weapons and from cheap cash crops, minerals and labour.

    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Mi Cro, your thoughts on population reduction are intriguing....You realize we've been on the combustion engine for over one-hundred years. Don't you find it odd that we can send a man to the moon, but yet we are all still using fossil fuels and using the same engine that was invented in the early 1900's! The problem is not population, but rather the powers that be who are not allowing the real truth out. I mean, the working week has not changed since the 1900's as well, but yet we have had a huge increase in productivity due to advances in technology, but yet we work the same hours as we did 100 years ago? So what is going on here? To me, everything is about control, and maybe you've hit the nail on the head. After all, maybe this GMO food is just that...a means of controlling world population. The next logical question would be why?

    MikeCrow
    Ugh, really?
    We use fossil fuels to power internal combustion engines because the technology is easy to reproduce and it's the least expensive solution to producing mechanical work.

    There is no other "real" truth. There's no engines that run on water, there are no 100 mpg cars hiding out in Detroit. There might be a way to break the bonds between hydrogen and oxygen with out consuming the same energy as you get when they combine, and if you find it, you can be as rich as you want to be.

    GMO foods are the attempt to produce more food for more people on the equal or lesser amount of land, for equal or lesser amounts of work. Nothing more.

    BTW, we send men to the moon while sitting on top of an exploding rocket.
    Never is a long time.
    John Hasenkam
    But even with all of this, IMO we can provide a first world standard of living for the entire population of the world. 

    What "we" can do is largely irrelevant. The problem is not what we can or cannot do, the information and technologies we have developed are not hidden from view, they are available to all. But with the adoption of those things there must be certain cultural and institutional changes otherwise it won't work. I'm no friend of libertarians and certainly don't embrace the free market spirituality which dominates some economic thinking but the simple truth is that a market based economy is the best way. That's one issue, then there is property law and rule of law, education etc etc. 


    It is naive to think we can just transplant technology into a culture that does not have the relevant institutions which facilitate the utilisation of that technology. We evolved into our cultural state yet we think other cultures can leap frog their way to our state. Well to some extent that is possible but only when those cultures appropriate many of our cultural motifs which are supportive of our way of life.  


    BTW, some months ago an economist crunched the numbers on all peoples enjoying our standard of living. Estimates was that we would run out of resources in months. We can NEVER hope to have the rest of the world live like us. We are the lucky ones. We will need a very fast evolution in our institutions, our methods of production, our environmental safeguards, before we should even consider trying to achieve such a lofty, idealistic, and dangerous goal. We are going to have that evolution in our structures, it will be forced upon us. 




    MikeCrow
    I agree, we can't just drop our culture on a country. But we can give them a path to follow.

    As for
    BTW, some months ago an economist crunched the numbers on all peoples enjoying our standard of living. Estimates was that we would run out of resources in months. We can NEVER hope to have the rest of the world live like us.
    I think by the time we get there, much will have changed on how we can deliver that kind of life style, and that still doesn't account for all of the resources of the solar system we can have access to, if we stop looking at the ground, and instead turn to our gaze to the sky.
    Never is a long time.
    @John, I'm aware (economist crunched the numbers on all peoples enjoying our standard of living.) But this is to say our standard of living is 100% the way to go. This line of logic comes from what is called normalcy bias and American exceptionalism. This line of thinking is straight up haughty and ignorant. By the way we do not have a free market and never did. When the government can subsidize commercial farmers and we can bailout companies who have failed due to bad policy, that should be self evident. There are many things that our out there, that are used in other parts of the globe that 1. we don't know about 2. Are kept hidden from us. 3. Would force change on much of what we are doing that is not sustainable and thus hurt the power structure. We really do have the technology and the knowledge to live like Kings. We really do...Commercial farming is a thing of the past. I've been to small, sustainable farms that produce 100% organic produce. If you would take the ratio of size vs production, between these small sustainable farms (with the right technology like aquaponics) WOULD CRUSH ANY dinosaur commercial farm! Granted these small farms have better biodiversity, but that should be a good thing. Cows are not even designed to eat corn....I mean, this entire way of thinking we have built into us, via our arrogant culture is plain stupid. This old world view is falling and the establishment knows it. I don't understand how all you "educated people" can sit here and defend these dinosaur establishment views.

    John Hasenkam
    I don't understand how all you "educated people" can sit here and defend these dinosaur establishment views. 

    I don't, I made it clear our institutions are past their use by date. Last sentence of my prior post. But Barry, most people are loathe to question their cultural institutions. I used to say to people that we in the West are the princes of the World, we enjoy a standard of living that if sustained through our current technologies is doomed to fail. So before we start entertaining dreams of turning everyone into princes and princesses, we need to think about radical news ways to live our lives. But the odds of that are very remote. History offers absolutely no support for the idea we can willingly radically transform our way of life. As Schopenhauer might argue: can we will what we will? No! It's dead easy to come up with alternative approaches to technology, it is impossible to implement not because of powerful lobby groups but because people in general trust powerful people and hate change. Crises make people change, very few people change by reason. 

    The challenge for people like yourself is not to challenge the powerful(you can't) but persuade the not so powerful to stop being persuaded by the powerful. Good luck with that. Seriously, that is an incredibly difficult thing to do. 

    PS: yes I know we have never had truly free markets and thank common sense for that, hence I refer to "free market spirituality". If people want to believe in invisible hands(Smith) and spontaneous orders(Hayek) they can kiss my ass. I was simply saving words: the markets we have are much better than state planned economies, barter, etc. 
    MikeCrow
    the markets we have are much better than state planned economies, barter, etc.
    Indeed!
    Never is a long time.