All posts by vasenj

If a human is accused for killing other species, are all omnivores murderers?

The argument that humans are not meant to consume meat is an argument that is based on the perception that humans are separate from nature. A quote from the reading reads “Humanity’s high esteem for capacities believed to be unique to humans, such as rational thought, justify the superiority afforded to homo sapiens and define autonomy as freedom from nature.” This is the mentality of much of the human race, and it is the result of this mentality that animal agriculture exists in the form it does today. If humans think they are separate from nature, that they have a superiority above the rest of the nonhuman animals, they will not hesitate to control animals in order to provide food for themselves.

However, this is not reality, humans are animals like all the rest of the species on earth. Just because we have dominion over much of the earth doesn’t mean we have any responsibilities for it. Humans are unique in that they take species under their wing and “protect” them from harm (ex. Pets, cows in India) but they are not unique in their consumption of meat through killing other animal species. That is how the food chain works. Just because we are at the top of it does not mean we have to remove ourselves from it altogether.

If this is confusing, what I’m trying to say is that humans as a species are meant to kill other animals for food, but the animal agriculture of today is not the way to do it. Not only is it unethical to the societal norms of today, but it also violates the laws of nature. A single species should not be able to take control of its food sources in a way that does not allow any other animal to benefit from it. The food chain as a whole is balanced, the bird eats the worm, but the bird also gets eaten by something bigger. The world today is very unbalanced, with the overwhelming human population on one side of the scale and all the rest of the species on the other side. The main reasons for most environmental damage humans cause comes from unbalanced systems.

If there was some way for humans to bring balance back into the food chain without hurting our own species too much, that would be ideal, but for lack of a better solution, not eating meat is a good option. It would also lessen the amount greenhouse gas emissions, open up more land, and decrease the large, if not overwhelming, population of cows.

 

 

 

Flow of energy = flow of information?

Nature to me should not be thought of as this great and beautiful thing. The fact that we are capitalizing it and essentially romanticizing it is in my opinion, naïve. Nature is not something to be thought of as separate. Everything on the earth is “Nature,” and there is not a distinct part of this world that is impervious to the forces of it. This being said, I do agree with the thesis when it says “Human beings are a part of Nature, but Nature is not human.” This statement means that we are as much a part of nature as the trees and bugs and wind. We think we are above the forces of nature and that we can take control of it, but it is obvious that this mentality has only put us in a worse position. Nature is unpredictable, as “it can not be reduced to any calculus of probabilities.”

I agree that the flow of energy is an essential process. However, the flow of information was one that stumped me for a little bit. At first I was very skeptical, as information is something I associate with the brain, and consciousness. Thesis 16 gives an example of a tree drawing water from its roots and reacting to an insect eating its leaves. To me, it doesn’t seem to match up in a biological standpoint, as those processes work in a cyclic manner, and it has nothing to do with awareness or information – the tree has no brain, it is not aware that insects are eating its leaves. All of these processes are cause and effect. But, a tree could not choose one day to not draw up water to its roots, unless there was a chemical process that blocked it for some reason. Information processing to me assumes choice. The tree will automatically shed its leaves during the winter if it is deciduous. If it doesn’t, it is the cause of a genetic mutation, not because the tree chose not to.

After reading on to Thesis 17 however, I started to think about it differently, as it mentions that information requires ‘sentience’ which means being ‘able to perceive or feel things,’ instead of consciousness. I agree that sentience would lead to information processing, but I don’t know how sentient much of the natural world is, other than animals of course. If they are able to ‘feel’ things, what kind of reaction would that mean chemically? Personally I think ‘feel’ is the wrong word. They have forces acting upon them, sure, but that is different than the organism ‘feeling or perceiving’ the force.

Whether trees can feel things or not, it is an interesting topic to bring up and it makes me realize how lucky humans are to be able to process information. It is what has brought us to our current level of domination. While that level has brought down some unfortunate negative anthropogenic effects on the earth, perhaps our higher processing power can be the vital savior to our all encompassing, radically open, ever beautiful “Nature.”

Any scientist would be able to recognize that a system with a positive feedback loop usually leads to instability and collapse.

An exponential curve is not something commonly found in nature, and when it is, it is usually dangerous. Just like how populations in an ecosystem have a carrying capacity, our economy should be limited. A lot of times people say that the economy needs to grow to keep up with the continually growing human population, but I would argue that they are less dependent on one another than one would think, and if there is no stabilization factor, they are both going to reach an undeniable, disastrous natural limit or “carrying capacity.” This limit is already being shown, in the very real threat of climate change, deforestation, mass extinction, population density, food scarcity and the list goes on.

This idea of “degrowth” may be radical and non-capitalistic, but the idea of zero/negative economic growth is very appealing. It is clear that as our economy grows, the amount of waste and use of fossil fuels also grows. A quote from the article states that, “to date, there are hardly any countries who can claim an absolute reduction in material use or carbon emissions while growing.” This is very important because while some people would think that we can continue to do what we are doing as long as we just make an effort to clean up waste better or invest more in renewable energy, the reality is that we are already past the point of human destruction. We are in the Anthropocene. We have caused species to go extinct, we have changed the chemical makeup of the atmosphere, we have put so much plastic in the oceans that it has essentially created land mass. We need to stop what we are doing, and so a radical idea actually isn’t so far out of the range of thinking.

I don’t think that the idea of “degrowth” is perfect. The focus on the evils of capitalism seem pointed and accusatory. The article states that ecological technological advancements are not in the scope of degrowth because they also promote growth and consumption, but I would argue that we need more technology to make processes more efficient so that they consume less.  It also assumes that this new society of simplicity and care/education/environment is something everyone would be susceptive to, however I don’t believe that is something our era of humans could transition to, maybe an earlier, more primal era would be. However there are things about degrowth that I find promising. Such as the idea that science should become more political, or the argument that growth can never produce enough for everyone because if everyone is growing, then no one is actually gaining anything. The main idea I appreciate from the degrowth argument is the criticism of the social idea that growth is a good thing. As I mentioned earlier, anything with unlimited growth is bound for an unwanted fate. The idea of limiting our growth before nature does is mature, productive, and maybe even revolutionary.

IF THE WORLD WAS “MADE FOR MAN” HE REALLY SHOULD TRY BETTER TO TAKE CARE OF IT

Lynn White’s The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis gives an opinionated approach to a common question which is what is the root cause of all this environmental destruction? White proposes that it is the Christian/Western mentality that the world was made for man and he is the so called “master” of it. This is a good guess, as it creates a lack of responsibility which leads to decisions being made without thinking of the environmental consequences. As shown in the Pope’s Encyclical Letter, there are many environmental consequences that are being felt all over the world and humans are at the root cause. This is unfortunate because at this point it is hard to fix all of the problems and so people spend time pointing fingers and blaming different parties for the reality we are all facing. The Western mentality may be that the world was made for man, but as shown by the Pope’s Letter, that mentality may be changing. Eventually, things need to be changed and as White states when he says, “we must rethink and re-feel our nature and destiny,” it is not just technological advances and science breakthroughs that will reverse these harmful consequences, it is also an attitude and perspective change. It needs to be switched to “Man may be the master of the world, but he still needs to take care of it.”