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View Diary: New Curiosity Images Bring Home That Mars is a Real Place, We'll Be Seeing Soon With Our Own Eyes (283 comments)

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  •  Bullshit. Humans are exceptional. (1+ / 0-)
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    We are not only technological, but have the scientific method through which to iterate and adapt our technology on a continuing basis.  That doesn't mean we're invulnerable, but if you think we're not vastly more survivable than species that completely depend on minor fluctuations in the weather to survive, then your opinion is based on ideological hostility to mankind, not honest understanding of what we are.

    Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

    by Troubadour on Tue Sep 11, 2012 at 09:06:11 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

      I don't worship at the church of Frank Tippler any more than I do at the church of Ayn Rand.

      •  You just make use of all the exceptional (1+ / 0-)
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        things previous generations achieved without acknowledging what future ones will.  How convenient, to be a cynic in a world of wonders without relinquishing their benefits.  Are you planning to become Amish or live your life in cave by hunter-gatherer methods?  Didn't think so.

        Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

        by Troubadour on Tue Sep 11, 2012 at 10:30:45 PM PDT

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        •  Since I'm 60 (0+ / 0-)

          I expect not to be around when the human dieback gets underway in a big way. I have no idea what will be the outcome, but I seriously doubt the first response will be to colonize Mars.

          •  Then your pessimism is just self-involvement. (0+ / 0-)

            I have enough health problems to know what mortality feels like, so I feel I can say this without guilt of cruelty: Humanity will continue to grow, evolve, and learn without you.  Your twilight is not the waning of the world.  There are new people born everyday, and new possibilities with them - people for whom this world and all worlds that follow are new and hold boundless promise.  And you are of much less use to them with this shit attitude of yours than if you simply acknowledge that we have a choice in our own future.

            Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

            by Troubadour on Tue Sep 11, 2012 at 11:00:02 PM PDT

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            •  No (0+ / 0-)

              My problem is that what you are dreaming about requires expanding Earth's biosphere to other planets. That is not something SpaceX brings about -- it is a project for millennia. And first humanity has to survive the catastrophe we have arranged for ourselves.

              What you are overlooking is that our technology depends on a complex, delicate and vulnerable infrastructure, and that infrastructure is in no way immortal.

              •  In a nutshell (0+ / 0-)

                Technological optimism has always been a cargo cult. We need to understand nature, yes -- but we need to learn how to live within its limits. So long as we continue to delude ourselves that we are somehow not dependent on Earth's biosphere, we will continue to pursue our own extinction.

                •  We have vast unexplored terrain and (1+ / 0-)
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                  and untapped resources below the surface of the sea, some of which is not mapped at all.

                  When the undersea surface area is eventually measured and totaled it will be some multiple of the surface area above sea level.

                  Most of what we know relies on an oxygen rich atmosphere and photosynthesis.  We have the chemical and engineering capability to build fully functioning colonies in the deep ocean, harvest minerals locally down there, and to synthesize every compound that homo sapiens need to survive and reproduce.  We have growing capability to find or create micro-organisms that do much of that chemistry very well and reliably.  

                  Of course, living in such an environment for an extended period of time would select against traits that are currently very energy consumptive on the surface (strong bones, strong muscles, bright light, loud sounds).

                  •  The oceans will also be affected by global warming (0+ / 0-)

                    Higher levels of dissolved carbon dioxide are acidifying ocean waters and are implicated in coral reef bleaching. The biological productivity of the photic zone will probably be significantly reduced, and that would in turn affect productivity in the lower zones that depend on a rain of nutrients from above.

                    The exception might be hydrothermal vent communities, but I don't see humans thriving on a diet of extremophile bacteria... Even sushi bars haven't yet experimented with that cuisine.

              •  SpaceX brings about mass migration (0+ / 0-)

                of people and materiel to Mars, which produces the kernels from which biospheric transplantation occur and grow self-sustainably.  And not just to Mars - to anywhere that people find a way to operate sustainably.  It enables experimentation and exploration.  And while they're learning how to live on Mars and elsewhere, we'll be learning how to live on Earth in a more dynamic climate picture, and we'll all be learning from each other.

                Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                by Troubadour on Tue Sep 11, 2012 at 11:11:49 PM PDT

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                •  It won't bring about "mass migration" to Mars (0+ / 0-)

                  The place is a dingy, frigid, UV-blasted desert. Yes we might put a base there -- like the bases on Antarctica.

                  But where is the mass migration to Antarctica? It is not impossible for lack of transportation.

                  •  You don't know what you're talking about. (0+ / 0-)

                    You're completely dismissive of even the concept, so it doesn't surprise me that you've never bothered to learn anything about it or what's going on in the field.  Just accept that you're out of your element.

                    Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                    by Troubadour on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 11:17:20 AM PDT

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                    •  I've been arguing with technological optimists (0+ / 0-)

                      since the Internet was email lists and gophers. The debate hasn't changed significantly. The optimists still believe, with Julian Simon, that there are no resource limits to human growth. In fact there are limits to growth, and we hitting against them now.

                      •  And I've been arguing with apocalypticists (0+ / 0-)

                        for years, and their fallacies and ignorance of basic areas of science and economics never change.

                        Take silicon as an example of a "limited" resource: In 2008 there was a major shortage, but guess what - it wasn't a shortage of the resource in absolute terms, but of the manufacturing capacity to extract and process it.  Guess what happened?  As the price of silicon spiked, more money went into building new industrial capacity, which increased the quantity of silicon in the market and reduced the price beneath where it originally was.  Yes, there is a physical limit to the amount of accessible silicon on Earth, but not one that civilization confined to this planet could ever practically approach (do the math).  And once not confined to this planet, the underlying resource base increases orders of magnitude.

                        Or take energy: All the fossil fuels in all the world put together, both utilized and in reserve, add up to only a tiny fraction of the accessible solar energy from Earth's surface, never mind once you're talking about space-based solar power.  You just don't understand technology or economics - they evolve fluidly, around single-resource obstacles.  Or water: The oceans have more of it than humanity could ever hope to consume, and all it takes to access it is the energy needed to extract and desalinize it - and as I just mentioned, the available energy resources of planet Earth are far beyond what the world is consuming today.

                        By your logic, the resources available inside your house will be exhausted within a few days, so you're going to die of thirst or starve within a few days.  Hell, the oxygen in your house can't last much longer than that either, so you're approaching multiple resource limits!  You're doomed!  The things you're saying are so unbelievably dimwitted and ignorant without the excuse of lacking intelligence - you're obviously smart enough to know better - I just don't know what to do for you.  Planet Earth is not its own separate universe, its metal/mineral resources and renewable energy sources are not even remotely reflected by current industrial capacity, and the current configurations of economies by which we exploit terrestrial resources are not set in stone.

                        You're welcome to crawl in a cave and contemplate the imminent Apocalypse, but you'll have to excuse the rest of us while we focus on building the future.

                        Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                        by Troubadour on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 11:52:32 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  The resource limits we are hitting first (0+ / 0-)

                          are climate stability and the amount of arable land.

                          Despite your dreams, humanity is dependent on Earth's biosphere for the foreseeable future. Our technology is a fragile, delicate result of human activity and it could easily be disrupted by climatic and social chaos.

                          Technology and economics are living systems , and like all living systems they have a range of conditions within which they can adapt, but when presented with conditions outside that range, they die. They are not immortal or exempt from their biological foundations. The notion that they are derives historically from the Christian belief in an immortal soul separate from the material body.

                          •  "Climate stability" is not a "resource." (0+ / 0-)

                            And as arable land becomes scarce, its price increases and causes greater investment in efficiencies that make better use of that land - e.g., vertical farming.  You don't understand even the most basic economic principles.

                            Our technology is a fragile, delicate result of human activity and it could easily be disrupted by climatic and social chaos.
                            Yes, yes - we're all completely helpless, delicate, gossamer beings who can only survive in a padded playpen and would be stamped out of existence by the slightest disruption.  That's how we've gone from being a few thousand survivors of the Toba supervolcano 75,000 years ago - survivors who had no technology more advanced than chipped stone tools and fire - to covering the entire Earth in every conceivable climate.

                            We're so weak and delicate that a plague that exterminated a third to half the population of an entire continent led to the Renaissance within a few generations, and a 20th-century war that destroyed almost an entire continent's productive capacity was recovered from within a decade.  So pitiful are we puny mortals.  That's why Hiroshima and Nagasaki are thriving cities today.

                            I'm not claiming that nothing can render us extinct, just that it's extremely improbable to occur soon enough to prevent us from spreading into the rest of the solar system.  And not only improbable, moot.  Even bringing it up is the worst kind of useless apocalypse porn fetishism.  Why are you even at your computer typing instead of being in deep spiritual contemplation 24/7 about the fact that you could die at any moment?  Why eat?  Why sleep?  Why have sex and watch movies?  It's very simple: We choose to live, and grow, and evolve.  To create the future, not pusillanimously sit around waiting for it to happen to you.

                            Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                            by Troubadour on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 12:41:31 PM PDT

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                          •  Climatic stability is a biological resource (0+ / 0-)

                            regardless of whether current mainstream economists consider it one. It is a characteristic of a habitat on which humans depend, and one which is limited by the climate systems limited capacity to buffer our waste products. That buffering capacity is a limited resource.

                            I don't intend to respond to the ad hominem stuff. It's my observation that technological optimism is a religious faith -- the sort of faith people organize their identities around, and defend when challenged as if they themselves were somehow being attacked. From my point of view, technological optimism is a dangerous illusion fostering denial. We cannot run away from global warming by moving to another planet. We have to deal with it here. So far, we have shown no sign of willingness to deal with it intelligently, and that does not bode well for the human future.

                          •  It's frankly ironic to hear the charge (0+ / 0-)

                            that optimism - the overwhelming lesson of human history - is a "religion" from someone who simply ignores all of that history because it doesn't agree with their apocalyptic views.  I know it makes people feel special to imagine that their experiences hold special significance to history - that they stand at the pinnacle of history, and all eras that follow, if any follow at all, will be just pale imitations at best.  It's the same self-involved nonsense that drives people to believe in religious apocalypse fantasies, and why "The End" has been "nigh" for 2,000 years.  Why we've been just on the cusp of radical resource scarcity since 1979.  

                            You're welcome to your negativity, and you're welcome to take any survivalist measures you see fit to endure the coming zombie apocalypse - in fact, feel free to unload your soon-to-be-worthless dollars on me - but you're not entitled to your own facts or to project the irrationality of your views on to me.  I'm not proposing we leave Earth, just that we add more places and more resources to the human repertoire.  There is no downside to doing so, because you know damn well the money "saved" from not doing so would not be devoted to saving "the" planet while everything learned from surviving on other planets would be directly applicable to making this one more livable.

                            Just give it up already.  No one is going to stop building the future because you tell them it's pointless.  

                            Everything there is to know about the GOP: They're the Bad Guys.

                            by Troubadour on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 01:22:57 PM PDT

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                          •  More ad hominem (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm in favor of increased funding for research in basic science generally -- basic biology (as opposed to biomedical areas) are severely underfunded, and I'm favor of increased spending on robotic planetary exploration and astronomy.

                            If I wanted to play the ad hominem game, I could say that you "obviously don't understand economics", because in your "analysis" of market responses to decreasing arable land, you took economic concepts that apply at best to small local perturbations around an equilibrium and applied them to a global stability problem: what happens if large tracts of the planet become unsuitable for agriculture over socially short time scales?

                          •  Human population of Antarctica in 2012 (0+ / 0-)

                            "There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. "

                            And this is after a century of exploration and good sea and even air transportation... where are the teeming millions of permanent migrants?

        •  We are indeed standing on the shoulders of giants! (1+ / 0-)
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    •  And one of those adaptive capabilities, (0+ / 0-)

      which is currently a moral and political hot potato could come in to play if there is any threat to total homo sapien extinction.

      We already have the capability to selectively combine, donor egg nucleus, with different donor mitochondria, and a sperm.

      It's within the realm of possibility that if the survival of a species is at stake it becomes not only acceptable but imperative to use cloning to sample a large number of  combinations and use artificial natural selection to choose known properties, then release adult organisms into specific environments to "naturally select" which ones can adapt.

      We already know that monoculture will REDUCE long term survival so I think selection for a single superhuman species will not become a goal.  I think that preservation of genetic diversity will remain a highly valued store of adaptability, even if the exact reasons change.

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