Mr. Teobaldelli incident
Neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk
Wed Sep 10 15:35:25 EDT 1997
In message <Pine.OSF.3.96.970905010608.11982A-100000 at aurora.alaska.edu> fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu writes:
> Neil Jones said:
> >Insects are as highly evolved as any other kind of animal on the planet.
> and objected to the term 'lower animals'--no longer a PC term in these
> enlightened days.
> Of course this is literally true--insects have been evolving as long
> as humans, and are presumably as well fitted to their niches as we are,
> if not (judging from their success) better so. So have plants, and so have
> the major (in terms of numbers of higher-order groups, and in terms of
> numbers of individuals, and biomass) lifeforms on earth: bacteria.
I think Ken understands what I mean by insects being highly evolved but
mistakes it for an "Animal Rights" type argument. I am not saying that
it is utterly unethical to kill insects.
> are two extreme ways to react to this fact as regards collecting (or kil-
> ling, experimenting with, disturbing, etc.)
Collecting is, I believe, fundamentally different to these activities.
other lifeforms. One way (Sin-
> ger might approve) is to say they are all equal, individual for individual.
> A rat has as much 'right' to live as a human. An insect as much as a
> rat, and a bacterium as much as an insect. On this basis, humans could
> barely manage to exist as a very rare organism--no agriculture, no engin-
> eering. Back to hunter-gatherers in small numbers....
> The other way is to be 'speciesist' (an uneuphonious word) and to
> judge the rank of organisms on their closeness or distance from us. Thus
> we would be more concerned about experimenting on (or collecting) chimpan-
> zees than bacteria. If we wish to maintain a high-energy lifestyle I see
> no alternative to this viewpoint.
It is often not what we wish but what we can afford. I often think that the
human race is still in its infancy with regard to its handling of technology,
and like a child it wants things that it cannot have.
The consequence of the increasing pace of technological change is that we
are introducing changes into the ecosystem without knowledge of their
long-term effects. Carbon Dioxide from our "High-energy lifestyle" is
leading to global warming. CFC's from our fridges are destroying the
life giving ozone layer which protects us all.
I realise that these phenomena are not universally recognised by everyone
but the overwhelming scientific consensus is that they do exist.
Even if these particular problems do not exist. It is highly likely
that others will appear. Our reliance on continuous economic growth
is likely to lead to problems. We cannot continue to use up resources
at an ever increasing rate.
I realise that some will argue that technology will provide answers to the
problems as they occur. This however sadly is not the case as it is impossible
to predict the consequences of the changes in technology. We did not,
for example, predict that feeding dead sheep to cows would cause Mad Cow
To live in houses, cities, etc.; and
> use powered vehicles, computers, electronic media; eat food produced
> elesewhere--all this takes an immense toll on insects, bacteria, and
> the smaller vertebrates, even if we were able to preserve the so-called
> 'charismatic megafauna', which we are not doing very well at to date.
> Even under a 'green' scenario--small isolated villages surrounded by
> immense tracts of untouched wilderness, we would still be killing more
> than our share of bacteria and insects.
I think this is rather an extreme view of a green scenario.
> Speaking for myself, I would go out of my way to avoid killing
> most vertebrates (except for food), but when I walk through the tundra I
> don't bother to plan my path so as to take the absolute minimum toll on
> springtails, let alone bacteria. I guess I'm a speciesist at heart...
> However, I love the idea of entomologists as 'lower scientists',
> because the same reasoning allows us to regard chemists as lower still,
> and physicists as even lower. :-) Thanks, Neil.
> Ken Philip
> fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu
Neil Jones- Neil at nwjones.demon.co.uk "The beauty and genius of a work of art
may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a
vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last
individual of a race of living things breathes no more another heaven and
another earth must pass before such a one can be again." William Beebe
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