- Capitalism and Alternatives -

All I'm asking is a vaguely objective look at the experimental evidence.

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on December 17, 1999 at 16:42:25:

In Reply to: Dr. Farinata appeal to authority. His own. posted by Frenchy on December 17, 1999 at 15:59:59:

: : Habeas corpus, Frenchy and Doc.

Note: no corpus has been forthcoming; until they bring it, their case study is definitely 'illa non habent...'

: : If only it were so. In fact, environmentalists are frequently in the firing line - literally; if they annoy corporations and governments. Look at the deaths of Fernando Pereira, George Adamson, Dianne Fossey, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Hilda Murrell, Karen Silkwood and the like; all of them were killed by unaccountable organisations because their investigations and actions on behalf of the environment and the fauna threatened to expose corruption.

: Conspiracy theory, anyone? Black (or green, possibly) helicopters? Paranoia?

All of them are on record as being killed by governments and corporations, Frenchy; go look them up. Just because it seems paranoid to you doesn't mean it's untrue.

: : Hardly, Doc. The physical evidence says that the human species is screwing up the environmental balance at an unprecedented rate. I don't want to live on a planetary rubbish dump; which is why I oppose those such as yourself who would happily tarmac over the rainforests for 30 pieces of silver.

: Well, yes. But I also know deep in my bones that as a true believer you'll never, never accept anything that I put forward to support my claims.

I'm not a 'true believer' more of a confirmed sceptic. I leave belief to the Christians; my own opinions on the physical world I base on experimental evidence and theory derived thereof.

: Anything I cite will be countered by accusations that the writer is/has been corrupted by corporations, government or the Montana Militia.

Slight unfounded assumption there, Frenchy. I'll view all claims with a critical eye; but that doesn't mean I'll deny a good point when I see one; it's just that you're arguing on a subject I know a large amount about; and you've not yet produced a single point that I'd say is unarguably the case.

: You see me and Doc willing to pave the jungles over for 30 peices of silver.

Doc has declared on numerous occasions that he would happily see the rainforests destroyed in the name of "progress" and profit. You are his acolyte in everything else...

: The flip side is that I see you willing to grant an animal the same ethical and moral status that a person has.

Did I say that?

(Though, for the record, I believe that all lifeforms have the right to live to the best of their abilities.)

: In other words, to me your an envirowacko.

And to me, you're a right-wing religious Yank without a coherent argument; especially on turf I'm actually pretty well-informed on.

Anyway, that's the cheap shots over with; now let's get back to the serious stuff.

: : I have repeatedly told Frenchy that technological problems to social problems are two-edged swords; they generally create as many problems as they solve; pace antibiotics, GM, nuclear power, cars and the like; he maintains that somehow, this time, technology will make everything all right.

: : He's more like Bullwinkle than Einstein; "this time fer sure...!" - both you and he treat technology as a Holy Grail; a religion rather than a tool. Technology is a tool; and it is open to redesign and questioning each time; but it isn't the solution to all problems any more than a monkey wrench is useful as a screwdriver.

: But we look back and we see that somehow man's standard of living has increased with the aid of technology and science.

In some ways; but not in others. Our environment has never been so full of pollutants and carcinogens and the average Western lifespan is less now than it was in the 1950s; incidences of diet-related and stress-related disease are at an all-time high, as is crime, and the economic policies of the last 40 years have caused the social cohesion of countries like the US and UK to break down in large part.

It's a technological improvement that we now have drugs to treat stomach ulcers; but it's no progress when you consider the fact that our current lifestyle leads to unprecedented incidence of stomach ulcers and other stress-related symptoms; the palliative is part of the whole problem.

:Did I say that "This time fer sure..."?

I was citing Bullwinkle, but yes, that's what you've been saying about the nuclear energy industry. I pointed out that our mode of consumption of fossil fuels hadn't changed; you said that nuclear energy was suiting the French just fine. You were positing a technofix; a new-and-improved palliative, rather than a cure.

: What I did say was that we are as powerless to see the future as any generation before us.

Perfectly true. On the other hand, when Lucretius Carus posited the theory of evolution and basic genetics in 55 B.C., he was pretty on the money; because he examined the way the world worked and derived his theories from that.

This was deemed laughable by the Stoics of the time; who thought that pure Platonic forms explained everything just fine and that getting your hands dirty was degrading.

History proved Carus to be closer than they were; because he examined the physical evidence. Examine the physical world and you can get some idea of what *isn't* possible; e.g. continuation of our current consumerist lifestyle

: We have no idea what sort of scientific breakthroughs will occur and how the will be combined with other discoveries. History is filled with examples of this. Who in 1743 could have concieved of a light bulb? There are thousands of such examples and you know it. That's what I said.

And, as I've said repeatedly, it's extremely foolish to throw yourself off a cliff in the hope that a boat will be passing by in time to catch you.

By your reasoning, the converse is also true; that we cannot know what will be invented; therefore we have no real reason to believe that someone will produce a world-saving invention.

To use the smoking analogy again (I like it; it's a good analogy) - are you going to smoke as much as you like in the iron-hard certainty that someone will invent replaceable lungs before you die? Of course not; it's foolish to do so.

Quite apart from all else, as SDF has also pointed out, the transition from an oil-based to a non-oil based economy would require a lot of energy in itself; remaking certain machines and industrial processes; if the most accurate estimates are correct, we should have begun turning our economies over a good 10-15 years ago; we are rapidly reaching the point of no return; where we will no longer be able to switch our modes of industrial production over because there isn't enough in the way of energy reserves to do so. At which point our present society will really be up shit creek...


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