Self-Hating Human

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The New Scientist is running an article entitled, "Earth Without Humans." It asks what would happen to Earth if all 6.5 billion of us simply disappeared.

"The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better," says John Orrock, a conservation biologist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, California.

Just how do things get "better" when you've subtracted the only creatures that are self-conscious enough to know better from worse?

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  1. Yeah, too bad we’re not all rocks or something benign like that. He really isn’t going far enough, because if we leave, the squirrels or something else might take our place and engage in evil technology. Therefore, the only solution to protect Gaia is to slaughter every single living organism on her.

  2. Ok then, douchebag. You first.

    Unfortunately, things really will improve once he’s gone, so he’ll think that proves his point.

  3. ploughed-up prairies, razed forests, drained aquifers, nuclear waste, chemical pollution, invasive species, mass extinctions and now the looming spectre of climate change.

    Yeah, until humans got tired of living like animals and got productive forests never burned down, rivers and lakes never dried up, locusts never swarmed, volcanos never erupted creating huge clouds of toxic gasses and asteroids never hit earth wiping out all the dinosaurs.

    God I detest moronic garbage like this coming from allegedly educated people.

  4. Taking Pro Libertate’s point futher, we need to build huge spaceships which will destroy all bad lifeforms across the galaxy.

    Except maybe those lifeforms who agree to helop destroy the bad lifeforms. Those would be good lifeforms.

    hmmmm…..

  5. “There are hidden contradictions within the minds of people who ‘love nature’ while deploring the ‘artificialities’ with which ‘Man has spoiled Nature.’ The obvious contradiction lies in their choice of words, which imply that Man and his artifacts are not part of ‘Nature’ — but beavers and their dams are. But the contradictions go deeper than this prima-facie absurdity. In declaring his love for a beaver dam (erected by beavers for beavers’ purposes) and his hatred for dams erected by men (for the purpose of men) the ‘Naturist’ reveals his hatred for his own race — i.e., his own self-hatred. In the case of ‘Naturists’ such self-hatred is understandable; they are such a sorry lot. But hatred is too strong an emotion to feel toward them; pity and contempt are the most they rate.” -RAH

  6. Imagine the improvement if we got rid of the ecosphere altogether? One asteroid impact or nearby gamma burst could bring about the end all organic matter. Then we’d have a nice stable system.

    No one mourns the loss of magma earth, and the horrible changes wrought by radiational cooling. Or pre-flora anaerobic earth, full of sweet methane and carbon soup.
    Hell, the formation of the planet appears to have been a gravitational abberation.

  7. Their dismissal of Chernobyl is fairly unconvincing. One reactor melting down and then capped in concrete is very different from hundreds melting down with no one to pour concrete.

  8. Wait just a minute here! I’m part of nature myself!

  9. Remember, we need to preserve the purity of a tectonically unstable planet, whose upper crust contains radioactive isotopes, suffocating sulfur pockets, and dozens of toxic elements; whose biosphere has uncountable venoms and toxins lethal to humans, allergens beyond measure, parasites, and viruses; where transplanting a harmless plant from one geographic location to another leads to epidemics like kudzu and creepers; where even a mild volcanic event can cough up enough deadly substances and chemical anathemas from the earth’s mantle to kill a significant number of lifeforms, not to mention alter the weather patterns for years to come.
    Can we rip all this contemptable shit down and build a Dyson Sphere. please?

  10. Fred Saberhagen,

    Sounds like a great idea for a novel or even multiple novels 🙂 I also like the idea of retelling Dracula from the Count’s perspective, but that’s a topic for another thread.

    Here’s a thought: Who–excuse me, what–would win in a battle between a Berserker and the Doomsday Machine from TOS?

  11. Load of shite.

    I care about the environment because, from my “selfish” perspective, it’s a human habitat above all else.

  12. Illogical! Illogical!

    They would join together and defeat the United Federation of Planets.

  13. The Xeelee would dissemble both the Berzerkers and The Doomsday Machine…

    And when will Alan Moore get off his ass and write the story where Buck Rogers, Perry Rhodan, Dan Dare and Barbarella team up take on The Shrike, The Berzerkers, the machine things from the Galactic Center series?

  14. Focus people! Mashing genres is hard enough with just two separate, fictional universes.

    Ahem. I’m thinking that the pure neutronium hull and the technology that would be necessary to support something like that means that the Berserker is toast.

  15. In some countries … there is no longer any night sky untainted by light pollution.

    Damn you, Thomas Edison! You and your artificial light and all the other scientists and inventors who made it possible to read that article online.

  16. …And the Blight gains access to Revelation Space…And citizens of The Culture are posessed by the Souls of the Dead…And the Lensmen and the Dorsai investigate the strange monoliths that have been appearing on Arrakis…

  17. Where’s the Vang when you need them? oh yeah…Starhammer. nm

  18. I dunno, PL. Berserkers are Von Neumann tech. They could just build a few more bodies and stuff the throat of the planet killer. You have to question the design of a large unclosable orifice.

  19. Just how do things get “better” when you’ve subtracted the only creatures that are self-conscious enough to know better from worse?

    You give way too much credit to humanity here.

  20. What a strange idea Mr. Orrock has. “Gosh, the Earth would be a great place to live if no one were living there!” It’s simply awesome in it’s stupidity.

  21. I’ll bet the Earth Liberation Front types are having involuntary orgasms over this bit of “news”…

    Has anyone sent a copy to Al Gore?

  22. You have to question the design of a large unclosable orifice.

    But you can’t question its soundtrack!

  23. Come now, Jeff P. Recall that the Doomsday Machine can destroy planets with, at most, a few blasts out of its large, fusion explosion-vulnerable orifice. Berserkers don’t have that capability, as far as I can recall. Their adaptability would certainly help them in a long-term war, but, for all we know, the Doomsday Machines have that capability, too.

  24. Mike P.
    duh-dut duh-dut DUH-DUT duh-dut.

  25. Well, since Berserkers have goodlife, I think they would beat the hull off of a Doomsday machine.

    However, due to the age of the berserkers they often have programming problems, which means they are not optimal for the ?destroy all life? mission. Doomsday machines have simple On/Off switches.

  26. PL: We’ll have to roll our 12-sided dice to figure out vulnerabilities.

    In the later chronological books the Berserkers could fab war machines pretty quickly. Also, as far as we know the Doomsdays have no FTL.
    And we’ve only seen the one, and puny humans took it out with a crippled ship.

  27. But Spock did speculate at the end of the episode that there might be more of them out there….

  28. Spock is a debasement of logic. Fuck him.

    Maybe if Vulcans took some time out from touching each others foreheads and figured out a cure to the horrible disease that killed Sarek, or planned ahead enough to have the Orion hookers ready and waiting when the Pon Farr took over instead of trashing their room, maybe I’d have a little respect for them.

  29. Jeff P.,

    No doubt that the Doomsday Machine we saw was rather easily destroyed. What was it, a hundred megaton blast that did it in? Jeez, that’s nothing. Why, they didn’t even both trying to rig some sort of anti-matter/matter explosion, which would’ve yield a lot more energy, surely.

    Still, we need more data to render an accurate comparison. Any fan fiction or other extra details on these craft? Didn’t the New Voyages guys do a Doomsday Machine scenario, too?

    Incidentally, I would assume that Orrock would favor the Berserkers, since they just take out life, rather than destroy whole planets.

  30. Berzerkers will have to STFU when we get a few more quibian-kel units online.

    There, I didn’t even have to mash together different universes.

  31. Damn, I didn’t even realize that Zelazny was dead.

  32. Leave it to the Reasonoids to think that 100 species a day becoming extinct is “progress.”

    Man (and esp. the planet itself) would be much better off if we returned to a lower-tech way of life. Technology will ultimately be the doom of this planet.

  33. Whoa, Jeff, hold off on the hatin’! Spock’s mom just died. Wait a week or something.

  34. Any fan-fic or book-based Doomsday Machine info would be non-canon (in keeping with the most recent show-runners’ philosophy).
    Maybe there’s a Mirror Universe Doomsday Machine that actually builds planets out of space rubble.

    Let’s say there are fleets of them, and go so far as to say that they procreate, or perhaps those segments seperate and each segment grows to a whole like some neutronium flatworm. I don’t buy that they would require an entire planet’s mass for fuel. That would suggest that they gather to break up planets for some other purpose. Building the sphere from Relics perhaps?
    Since Trek will never try to tackle anything like macroscale engineering or Type II civilizations, or anything other than spam-with-funny-foreheads in a can, we’ll probably never know.
    I mean, Starfleet’s best and brightest stood there dumbfounded while a mega machine intelligence capable of digitizing organic life, but somehow incapable of wiping the grime off an old NASA space probe, ascended into godhood. Whew. That was close. Roll credits.
    Idiots.

    Berserkers had antimatter weapons in a few of the books.

    Klingons vs. Kzinti. That’s what I want to see.

  35. Jeff P.,

    Klingons vs. Kzinti is legal. Niven’s Kzinti were adopted for the animated Star Trek. Granted, that’s hardly canon, but it’s at least a start.

    As it turns out, I can tell you from experience that the Klingons would win. The Kzinti are part of the old Starfleet Battles universe, and I kicked their ass a few times. I think they were set up as allies of the Federation, though I could be wrong about that.

  36. Man (and esp. the planet itself) would be much better off if we returned to a lower-tech way of life. Technology will ultimately be the doom of this planet.

    So Dan, um, I hate to break it to you but your posts are not being made on clay tablets…maybe you oughta quit posting now and save the planet…what, exactly, is lower tech? Wood burning stoves? Gas lamps? The Feudal system?

  37. Dan: Good. A single planet (as I pointed out before) is a pretty untenable platform for a long term culture, let alone a spacefaring one. Store up the species genomes, build your seed-and-spore arks, rip apart the planets and build something stable. It’d be better than a thin layer of vegetation atop of smouldering toxic ball.

    PL: Yeah, I forgot. Funny how Sarek had a thing for human women, at least two that we know of…

  38. Man (and esp. the planet itself) would be much better off if we returned to a lower-tech way of life. Technology will ultimately be the doom of this planet.

    Andrew Loeb!

  39. Ah, the solution stands before us. Conquer the solar system, terraform everything, and move the entire Terran biota (or copies of it, anyway) to those worlds. Then do whatever the heck we want with Earth.

    There’s always the Dyson sphere that Jeff mentioned earlier, too. Plenty of room for just about anything there.

  40. The Xeelee would dissemble both the Berzerkers and The Doomsday Machine…

    The Xeelee are too busy to bother with such trifles. They’d just seal ’em in a can for a few million years.

  41. Let the luddites and fundies have Earth. Keep it orbiting inside the Dyson (or ringworld, to be more feasable) so we can watch them, like a zoo.

    Left Behind indeed…

  42. Read “The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps” by Marshall T. Savage

    http://www3.sympatico.ca/n.rieck/docs/millennial_project.html

  43. Ya know, I once thought of myself as an Uber-Nerd, a Geek Among Geeks.

    But after having read the comments between Jeff P and Pro L on this thread, I have to admit that I am just a first-year Plebe at Star Fleet Academy compared to those two (and Stevo Darkly).

    I shall kneel in obeisance now…

  44. Man (and esp. the planet itself) would be much better off if we returned to a lower-tech way of life. Technology will ultimately be the doom of this planet.

    Dan T., meet Pol Pot.

  45. There are no ranks or classes in my transhumanist future world, Captain Holly. Just Meme-Tribes, Clades, Upload Clusters, Neuroplexes, Replicant Clans, and the occasional Sim Co-op.

  46. And occasionally Nick Gillespie’s giant floating head flies around Zardoz-like making supscription pitches.

  47. Jeff, I noticed that you left out cybrids. Admit it, you work for the Core. Say, you also left out the Kwisatz Haderach and his descendants.

    After seeing Time Bandits, I no longer fear giant, floating heads.

  48. Man (and esp. the planet itself) would be much better off if we returned to a lower-tech way of life. Technology will ultimately be the doom of this planet.

    Better off for whom?
    My life is dependent upon medical technology. Would you have me die to sate YOUR vision?

    How will we reach our ultimate evolution if we give up technology? Do you think technology is an abberation?

  49. Close. I’m an avatar of Omnius. Like Erasmus, only more charming.

    All sentient beings who claim to be fulfillments of prophecies are subjected to vigorous noogies.

    I cannot believe I left out The Future is Wild, which imagines what Earth is like after humanity leaves:
    http://www.es.com/products/digital_theater/shows/FutureIsWild/

  50. Might as well mention Ray Kurzweil will be on C-SPAN’s In Depth program on Nov. 5th.

    Description: Author, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil will be our guest for In Depth on November 5th (LIVE Noon-3pm ET). Mr. Kurzweil is the author of several books on the subject of artificial intelligence, including “The Age of Intelligent Machines,” “The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence,” and his latest, “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.” His companies have made major breakthroughs in print, sound and voice recognition technologies. As a result of his work, he was awarded the 1999 National Medal of Technology by President Clinton. You can join in this three-hour discussion with Mr. Kurzweil about his life and work by calling in during the program or by e-mailing your questions to booktv@c-span.org.

  51. Jeff P., I’m joining the Second Foundation.

  52. How about the loss of “light pollution”? You can see the stars clearly everywhere now! Well….you can’t, since you don’t exist anymore…but the animals can! Well…I mean, technically they just see some spots, they don’t know what the hell is a star…

    The bottome line is, if we just got rid of all the people, Nature could get back to doing what it does best without interruption: Everything trying to kill and eat everything else.

  53. Dave,

    You’re overreacting to all of this. What Orrock really means is that when all of the people he doesn’t approve of are out of the picture, the remaining 20,000 humans that Gaia can support will be able to enjoy the dark night skies, clean air, and biodiversity that the Mother Goddess intended the elect to have.

    Come to think of it, if I were a member of this elite, I would be able to actually see something out of my 8″ Dobsonian. That would be nice.

  54. The idea of human extintion if appluaded by many big time eco-fanatics like PRINCE PHIIIP and the wackos from GREENPEACE and the zero populationists freaks like PAUL EHRLICH

  55. Jeff P:

    I thought I was the only one who ever saw Zardoz, I love that movie.

    Another great post-apocalyptic story is the novel Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart. It deals with nature’s response to the near-extermination of mankind by a mysterious disease.. There are enough people left alive to keep our species going, but not enough to stop the encroachment of nature into what had been human habitat. I recommend it.

  56. Settle down, people. It’s a thought exercise about our impact on the planet, not a call for mass extermination. There isn’t a single sentence in the entire piece suggesting that such a thing should be done. It’s a description of how the ecology changes when human activity ceases.

    My God, you people are easily manipulated.

  57. Settle down, people.

    Yes, because this thread is just full of frothing indignation against …*reads* Beserkers, doomsday machines, Zardoz

    Well, I can see the indignation against Zardoz. That movie worked really hard to insult its audience’s intelligence. 🙂

  58. Eric,

    And the loathsome Harkonnens. We left them out, earlier.

  59. The most important question remains unasked: Who would win if the planet-destroying doomsday machine from “The Doomsday Machine” fought the planet-destroying immense one-celled organism from “The Immunity Syndrome”?

    (500 points for staying within the Star Trek universe; 500 points for citing a Star Trek episode that nobody ever recollects.)

  60. What Doomsday Machine are you guys talking about? I’m only familiar with the one from Dr. Strangelove

  61. The whole point of Bailey’s excellent dismissal, “just how do things get ‘better’ when you’ve subtracted the only creatures that are self-conscious enough to know better from worse?” is that, in the absence of valuing agents (i.e. humans), it’s nonsensical gibberish to talk about things getting better or worse. Hence, the thought experiment is baseless and facile and fully deserving of science-fiction-laden ridicule.

  62. What Doomsday Machine are you guys talking about?

    The doomsday machine from the “Doomsday Machine” episode of the original Star Trek series. It looked something like an immense, poorly detailed lobster tail made from gray modeling clay, and it ate planets.

  63. An uncircumcised immense, poorly detailed lobster tail made from gray modeling clay that ate planets.

    And William Windom kicked its ASS.

  64. Wow,

    Two of the great New Mexico sci-fi writers posting on hit and run…certainly humans that have improved the planet.

    http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/z/roger-zelazny/coils.htm

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