Environmental Collapse: when and how bad?

linebaugh

Well-known member
I basically don't think species extinction is a big deal like everybody claims. I care quite a bit about the suffering of sentient creatures. But I don't think there's any reason to care whether some particular species is around or not, unless they're so ecologically critical that their loss causes a big domino effect. Like really, why does us not having a sabertooth tiger or woolly mammoth or dinosaur around matter at all other than the fact they're "sick"? Yeah, platypuses are pretty cool, but that's not a moral argument.
cant believe I missed this. legendary suspended post
 

suspended

Well-known member
How many invitations to hang out in Londy you reckon I blew by getting baited by Tea and posting in this thread

Do ya reckon that was part of his secret plan, to sabotage my social life
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Other than Stan's point about us not really knowing which species are crucial, I can't think of a practical argument against extinction. It's all very much to do with how it feels to us and things like morality and ethics.
I think "I would find it very sad" is a reasonable argument in itself. If you want a "practical argument" as to why extinction is bad, then why not extend that to any other event that someone might consider "sad"?

Could you give a "practical argument" why your parents should not be killed? They are, presumably, well beyond breeding age and are just uselessly consuming resources and producing waste at this point, right?
 

suspended

Well-known member
I think "I would find it very sad" is a reasonable argument in itself. If you want a "practical argument" as to why extinction is bad, then why not extend that to any other event that someone might consider "sad"?

Could you give a "practical argument" why your parents should not be killed? They are, presumably, well beyond breeding age and are just uselessly consuming resources and producing waste at this point, right?
I think consciousness and conscious experience is the only end—a belief IMO that's intrinsic to progressive policy, and the particular progressive ideology I subscribe to. Shortening my parents' consciousness, or making the valence of conscious experience negative, would be a bummer, plus the fact that it'd lessen my own conscious experience, and impact their community poorly. (Since me mum's quite involved in prison programs, taking inmates distance running, and works with local parenting centers to assist single parents; me dad's is a teacher and quite a good one, gets voted favorite teacher by the student body often).

But if a species just happens not to exist anymore, I don't think this is any sadder than if it had never existed at all. "Existed" in quote marks—species are just sufficiently distinguished lineages of the same primitive life force. A branch on an enormous family tree. One branch disappears, another branch emerges, but it's all the same "thing," unless you can point to specific features of a particular species that give it moral relevance. It's like thinking there's something inherently bad about "plumber" disappearing as a profession, separate from the conscious suffering of out-of-work ex-plumbers.

If the disappearance of a species causes intrinsic psychic harm to people, that's a different story. But I don't think there's much serious intrinsic psychic harm that comes from a buncha random species that nobody's ever heard of disappearing, or a particularly famous white species of bear disappearing, and getting replaced by a slightly different kind of bear, or a different random set of species no one's ever heard of. Nature is constant flux and becoming. Nothing is sacred.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I think it unequivocally causes psychic harm to people - or makes them sad, anyway, in everyday English. And there's still the point that you can never know which species will turn out to be the lynchpin of a particular ecosystem, which, once removed, could have pretty disastrous consequences for our food supplies.

Also, these species are much more likely to be among the obscure, "random" species that few non-specialists have ever heard of - small plants, fungi, invertebrates, etc. - than the charismatic megafauna (polar bears, tigers and so on) that people actually care about.

But really, to me, it's just self-evidently true that a world with polar bears and tigers in it is a richer world that one without those creatures.
 

suspended

Well-known member
I think it unequivocally causes psychic harm to people - or makes them sad, anyway, in everyday English. And there's still the point that you can never know which species will turn out to be the lynchpin of a particular ecosystem, which, once removed, could have pretty disastrous consequences for our food supplies.

Also, these species are much more likely to be among the obscure, "random" species that few non-specialists have ever heard of - small plants, fungi, invertebrates, etc. - than the charismatic megafauna (polar bears, tigers and so on) that people actually care about.

But really, to me, it's just self-evidently true that a world with polar bears and tigers in it is a richer world that one without those creatures.
Yes but every species that goes extinct opens a niche for a new species. That's what I'm saying. There's nothing inherently sacred about "plumbing" as a profession and there's nothing sacred about "polar bear" as a species. This is just the way of the world. What replaces them may be equally interesting, in a formal intrinsic sort of way; all a polar bear has on its successor is our human sentimentality—a Hallmark card attachment, a series of Coca-Cola ads.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Yes but every species that goes extinct opens a niche for a new species. That's what I'm saying. There's nothing inherently sacred about "plumbing" as a profession and there's nothing sacred about "polar bear" as a species. This is just the way of the world. What replaces them may be equally interesting, in a formal intrinsic sort of way; all a polar bear has on its successor is our human sentimentality—a Hallmark card attachment, a series of Coca-Cola ads.
I think that's fallacious thinking, though. New species don't just "appear" to occupy a niche left by an extinct species. A particular plant or animal might have spent millions of years becoming perfectly tuned to live in a certain ecosystem, but could be wiped out in a few decades. The number of extant species is certainly decreasing.
 

WashYourHands

Cat Malogen
Before I go, I wanna add a bit more provocation so people can yell at me and keep the thread going/board energy up.

I basically don't think species extinction is a big deal like everybody claims. I care quite a bit about the suffering of sentient creatures. But I don't think there's any reason to care whether some particular species is around or not, unless they're so ecologically critical that their loss causes a big domino effect. Like really, why does us not having a sabertooth tiger or woolly mammoth or dinosaur around matter at all other than the fact they're "sick"? Yeah, platypuses are pretty cool, but that's not a moral argument.

The earth has had a lot of extinction effects, and life, in all its complexity and subtlety, always bounces back. I don't see any reason to believe the current batch of biology is "sacred" in any meaningful sense, when we've had so many batches. Humans are special for obvious reasons, nothing we know of has ever been able to do what we can do. But some pretty tropical bird? Really, who gives a shit. The whole anti-extinction fetish, particularly from people who are fine locking up billions of mammals and birds in horrific Holocaust-level conditions for the meat industry, strikes me as a bad & boring take.
CF11636B-FC43-4CB9-878B-09503B318B6D.jpeg
 

version

Well-known member
I think "I would find it very sad" is a reasonable argument in itself. If you want a "practical argument" as to why extinction is bad, then why not extend that to any other event that someone might consider "sad"?

Could you give a "practical argument" why your parents should not be killed? They are, presumably, well beyond breeding age and are just uselessly consuming resources and producing waste at this point, right?
I wasn't arguing that moral, ethical or emotional reasons aren't valid, just that I can't think of any reasons that don't fall into those categories.
 
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